Calling all Gardeners

I need some help, and it is the kind that you are qualified for.

If you look at this picture, you will see a mass of blue muscari, running the length of my Lime Walk. I love it when it flowers, not so much after. The foliage hangs on forever, not to mention sending up fresh leaves in the fall.

And looking the other way.

 I am looking at planting something over top of the muscari, something that will come up a bit late and hide the dying leaves. But I do not want it too tall, I do not think the hydrangea will every grow and I do not want to compete  with them.  And I prefer one type of plant to run the whole length, I do not want to get into mixing perennials. I trialed a Nepeta last summer, but all the neighbourhood cats, came and went into ecstasy, rolling over it, and killed it. I do not want to run a halfway house for drug addicted cats!

Any thoughts?

37 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    gardeningasylum said,

    Not sure how much shade you have there, but the smallish chartreuse hosta gold tiara spreads very quickly and looks neat all season.

    • 2

      Great idea Cyndy, hostas come up quite late so the muscari would have a chance to flower unobstructed. I think that the chartreuse ones can take a bit more sun then the others. It was quite dappled shade there, before the maple lost one of its limbs late last summer. I will have to monitor it this year, I am not sure how the sun will fall now.

  2. 3

    It’s always tricky to suggest something for other gardeners just because we all have such different conditions. One of the first plants that sprang to mind is Lady’s mantle, which makes a love bordering plant, with its scalloped leaves that catch the dew and its froth of chartreuse flowers. It will take sun or partial shade quite nicely–I have it planted in an assortment of locations. Perhaps one of the lower cranesbills, or even a medium-height one like Geranium phaem ‘Summertime’ or ‘Samobor’, which has gorgeous foliage even when not in bloom? I could rattle on for days…I also concur with Cyndy about ‘Gold Tiara’ hosta, which tolerates sun or shade nicely.

    • 4

      I do love ladies mantle, have it on other parts of the garden. I just have to make sure that it comes on late enough that the muscari still shows. The same with the geraniums. The best part about the hostas for this edge, is their late arrival.

  3. 5

    Edith Hope said,

    Dear D, I am really troubled. I think, perhaps in your asking for help, that you may be too. What are you wanting from your lime walk? Is it to be totally formal, a contrast to more romantic plantings elsewhere, or is it to be rather in the manner of, but not a copy, I know, of the one at Sissinghurst?

    If it were mine, then I should:
    a) remove and replant the Muscari in a less formal situation – perhaps drifting through the Flora Glade or at edge of woodland;
    b) transfer the Hydrangeas to large containers and place in, on or near to your verandah [for these I would buy big, cheap terracotta pots from a DIY store and PAINT an interesting colour with masonry paint];
    c) edge all sides of the border with, say, Alchemilla mollis [Jodi’s suggestion] – easy to raise from seed and/or cheap to buy;
    d) infill between the Alchemilla, and under the limes, to form undulating platforms with Lonicera nitida;
    e) plant ‘thousands’ more Allium to rise up through the clouds of Lonicera;
    f) a mowing strip at the edge of the grass would be perfect as the Alchemilla could then be allowed freer reign without spoiling the grass.

    These are only my immediate thoughts. Do not hesitate to shoot them down. Certainly they require much in the way of work but I do believe that a complete reappraisal will, in the end, give you much greater satisfaction.

    Now, pour a large glass of wine, relax and do your own thing!

    • 6

      Edith, thank you so much for all your suggestions. Unfortunately Lonicera nitida is not hardy in my part of Canada, a shame it is a lovely plant. And hydrangeas will not winter over in pots here as well, and I am not there to water the pots all week, sometimes it is a two week period before I can visit again.
      I will probably transplant the muscari at some point, I have an area where I want to make a woodland walk, but that will not be for a few years yet. I seem to remember Rosemary Verey having a “river of muscari” somewhere at Barnsley House, I shall have to see if I can find out what she used to cover it up.
      Thousands more alliums sound just the ticket, I shall make a not to order them this autumn, and the edging strip hopefully will be in place this summer, I just have to put it on Ian’s (everlengthening) list!

  4. 7

    teza said,


    Ahhh, the Muscari, daintily beautiful and of a most charming hue, but similar methinks to that blessed Scilla, that one you give it an inch it tears throughout the garden with Herculean force. It too leaves ratty foliage in it’s wake.

    I concur whole heartedly with Jodi’s suggestion of the perennial Geranium. There are some smashing examples available from fabulously chartreuse to near back (Victor Reiter Jr is a fave) and G.p ‘Springtime’ with its marbled, green, pink and white foliage is simply to die for! I am also a fan of some of the more showy Saxifraga species – S. fortunei makes a lovely presence with its pewter infused foliage and hundreds of flowers that look like white moths. I love S. ‘Silver Velvet’ but find that mine has not spread much in two years, but an equally striking foliage.

    Just my two cents worth!


    • 8

      Thanks Teza, I will take your two cents anyday! Everyone seems to hate my muscari, it is one of my favourite flowers,(although I guess a bit weedy). And I love the “blue” lawns, that scilla produces!
      I do like perennial geraniums, have a few in the garden already, I just need to make sure that they do not hide the muscari.

  5. 9

    To keep a similar look colour and heightwise, you could try a Campanula carpatica in blue, or platycodon. This will sound wild, but what about strawberry plants?

  6. 11

    Melissa said,

    After reading all these ideas I find they have covered any I could offer in terms of low-growing plants (when I first read that you had trialed Nepeta but had found it was cat heaven I thought, maybe Caryopteris for the same look – but it needs a fair amount of sun). And you definitely want something low enough not to compete with the hydrangeas. Edith’s suggestion of an edging strip of brick would define the bed line more clearly and if you are after a formal design then I would try to incorporate that. But geraniums do seem a good idea. I’ve found that G. macrorrhizum (sp?) are semi-evergreen here and don’t run rampant, plus they flower well in shade.

    • 12

      Melissa, I have g. macrorrhizum already in the Flora Glade, a lovely plant, but a bit ungainly for the formality that I want for this area. I wish that I had more sun, would like to try the Caryopteris.

  7. 13

    fairegarden said,

    At first thought, small hostas, like Golden Edger. But another good one could be ferns, such as Japanese painted fern, or a mix of both. I have the same problem with the muscari, and am not willing to give up that sea of blue in spring. We have a short sedum, whose name escapes me at the moment, in a sunnier portion, alchemilla in the shadier. There are many plants that would work, it depends on the look you are going for.

  8. 15

    Heather said,

    I agree totally with Jodi’s idea of the lady mantle or cranesbill geranium. But my first thought was forget-me-nots – it’s light blue flowers would work really well with the hydrangea – if you can stand the unruliness of them and the fact that they like to selfseed ALL over the place.
    But I really think the lady mantle would be your best choice – great chartreuse to complement the hydrangeas.
    Good luck – whatever you choose it will be beautiful, I’m sure.

  9. 17

    Hi Deborah – I’d say foam flower (saxifrage as Teza suggested). I’ve got them both in my front garden and I especially like the contrast in their foliage. The foamflower’s foliage is sort of evergreen all year long here (6b), which is a bonus, don’t know what it would do for you. Can’t wait to hear what you come up with! Kelly

  10. 19

    Kathleen said,

    Wow, you have so many great suggestions to choose from ~ I hope there’s something here that will work for you. I had to click & see what everyone was offering up since I have muscari that needs a mixer too. Thanks for letting me glean some insight from your posting. I am now thinking perennial geraniums for my spot…. Good luck making your decision.

    • 20

      I am glad that this is helping you as well. It is interesting to see what everyone suggested. As this is such a long area, approx 100 feet, I need to make sure that I have the right plant before investing in so many. I think that I will get one of each and trial it for a year, just to see what looks and does best. Please let me know how the geraniums word out for you.

  11. 21

    fairegarden said,

    Sedum ‘Vera Jameson’

    Better late than never.

  12. 22

    Rosie said,

    Hi Deborah I was going to suggest Heucherellas as most are shade loving and they have some nice markings on their leaves. I too grapple with the muscari foliage each year and keep them near the backs of my borders but with your garden its a lot more difficult to suggest a plant cover when they are in such a prominent position. The hosta is a good one too.

    I should have been over here earlier to thank you for suggesting placing the little aconite tubers in water – I never knew that! that probably explains why I have never succeeded with the tubers. Thankyou so much for that great advice. 🙂 Rosie

    • 23

      Rosie, if you want to grow Anamone blanda, you need to soak those tubers as well. It really “plumps” them up.
      THanks for the advice about the muscari border, hopefully one of my trial plants will be the ticket.

  13. 24

    commonweeder said,

    I love the idea of the Lime Walk, underplanted with hydrangeas and muscari. All the suggestions point out to me that I must be unsuited to the kind of controlling that must be done in the spring. I have lady’s mantle and geraniums, tiarella and sedum but they all work as groundcovers really, and grow so thick and densely that cutting them back becomes a real problem. Is this a common state of affairs, or am I just growing the wrong varieties?

    • 25

      I think that you are one of the few that like my combo. Truth be told, they are only together as they were free plants, needs must, as the expression goes.
      I think that you must have very fertile soil, to get such great results from your “groundcovers”, and weeds shouldn’t be able to grow through them, a real bonus.

  14. 26

    I have my violets planted with my muscari…

    • 27

      I have violets everywhere, along with forget me nots, through the lawn, along with any unweeded spot. They are beautiful when they are flowering in the spring.
      Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I hope to see you again soon.

  15. 28

    Wow, the amount of kind response… amazing and nice!

    I am browsing through your blog for the first time. Nice blog! I am a gardenlover from Stockholm, Sweden looking for inspiring blogs, like yours:-)

    Cheers from Hillevissan

  16. 30

    Grace said,

    Hi Deborah~~ Ooh, I love posts like this! I didn’t read all of your replies but it looks like you’ve got a plethora of advice to sift through. Aren’t garden bloggers great?

    I like the hardy geranium idea but the edging would need to be wider to keep the lawn and the geraniums from mingling. Sun tolerant hostas are another great way to camouflage bulb foliage.

    Whatever you choose, I hope you’ll keep us posted and have fun. 🙂

    • 31

      Grace, I got tons of great ideas. I am going to trial them all for a year(maybe two is I am lazy) and see what does and looks the best. It is wonderful to have such a great network to turn to when you need advice and ideas.

  17. 32

    Ceara said,

    How about a dwarf Calendula?

    • 33

      I will have to check into their growing habits, I have never grown one myself.
      Thank you for visiting my blog and making a comment, I hope to see you again soon.

      • 34

        Ceara said,

        Calendula officinalis are amazing, easy to grow plants. Once they start flowering in summer with light green foliage, and you dead head, they will keep blooming all the way until they get buried in snow. While only annuals, they serve multiple functions. Pretty, medicinal (great for minor skin issues in homemade salves, creams or oil) and edible. You can get them in yellow, orange, dark orange/almost red, or mixed. They’ve been grown and used for a few thousand years. Calendula is also called Pot Marigold, although not a true Marigold (Tagetes).

      • 35

        OK, I know what you mean now. I thought that they needed sun. They are quite a lovely plant. Thank you for the suggestion. I will trial one and see how it does with the limited light.

  18. 36

    If you can handle more suggestions, how about Heuchera? While there are many foliage colors to chose from, there are at least three cultivars with lime-colored leaves.
    I find that they add elegance because they are so disciplined.

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