Friday, June 24, 2011

Variegated Aegopodium - don't even think about it, ever


Variegated ground elder reverts often back into the common, all green version; both turn easily into an invasive nuisance in a garden.

Browsing The English Garden magazine July 2011 issue for a dose of old European garden charm, I was surprised to learn that it recommended the variegated ground elder, Aegopodium podagraria 'Variegatum', on a list for 'pale and interesting plants for a star role in the garden'. With a dreamy picture of its creamy-white leaves, the article promotes it as 'a pretty and useful perennial for narrow borders or to edge a scheme', advising that it is less invasive than its non-variegated brother.


The same plant, happily strangling a Viburnum davidii in my front yard...

I do not agree for a split second with this choice. Instead, I would loudly advice everyone against including an Aegopodium into any kind of a garden scheme that cannot be mown down with a strong lawn mover or some other power tool. And unfortunately I have the proof for this from my garden in Seattle, where an unsuspecting landscape architect planted it a couple of years ago as a contrast to some bold-leaved shrubs and perennials (this was before we moved here). At the same time, he managed to create a lasting problem for all gardeners to follow. Just look at the pictures, and take my word for it: Don't plant it. Never. Ever. If you don't want it to take over and strangle everything on its way, covering the soil with an impenetrable mesh of wiry roots on its wake. The only way to get rid of an Aegopodium is a considerable squirt of Roundup, and that's not the kind of plant a gardener wants to live with. 

Here, it has crept into another area in the garden, easily taking over the blue star creeper, Pratia pedunculata, if not treated carefully with some very inorganic gardening methods...

5 comments:

Gardener in the Distance said...

I know this thing, Liisa, but only by sight, having never grown it. Sounds like a monster, better not to make acquaintance with it...

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

It is a monster, and you are happy knowing it only by sight. I wish I could say the same...

Michael B. Gordon said...

Liisa,
I try not to use Round Up but this is one of my few exceptions. I have been battling it in my garden for 20 years and still haven't totally eradicated it. I am going to work on it agin today. Nurseries shouldn't even sell it. Good thing Miss Willmott didn't push the wiry roots into the soil as she visited gardens or all of England would have a white ground cover by now.

The Intercontinental Gardener said...

Hello Michael, good to hear from you. I don't like using Roundup either, the latest NY Times article about birth defects confirms it all... But these guys increase from the tiniest root bits, so brushing their leaves with Roundup is the only way, unfortunately. I completely agree with you that it should not be even sold. I'm afraid that the whole neighborhood will have it growing long after we have left!

Megan Seagren said...

In our old house, I planted a little tiny pot of it in my shade garden. A few weeks later my husband noticed it and warned me that it was a biohazard. I promptly pulled it out, but -- you guessed it -- it was a never-ending battle to rid the garden of it. Fortunately, it isn't my problem any more. :)