The calendar says spring, but meh. Here in the upper Midwest, spring is a cruel tease, a trollop with a come-hither gaze who doesn’t actually put out until you’ve all but given up.
As I write this, it is a miserable 32 degrees. Spring threw us a couple of much warmer days last week—enough to encourage my four (count ‘em) hyacinths to poke through. A handful of daffodils have emerged, but they’re a mere fraction of what I planted, because the squirrels keep digging them up. (The lovely springtime photo at the top of the page isn’t from my neighborhood, alas, but that of our talented Webmaster, J.C. Lucky guy—he lives in Atlanta, where spring arrives when it’s supposed to. In March. Not that I’m bitter.)
I’ll be pleased enough to see the daffodils bloom, but what I’m really waiting for is the sweet woodruff. I can’t sing its praises enough. It’s an incredibly hardy groundcover that spreads with absolutely no effort on my part, which is exactly how I like it. (I’m a survival-of-the-fittest gardener; my motto is Grow or Get Out.)
When we were preparing to move three years ago, I dug up a few clumps of sweet woodruff from my established beds and just left them in pots on the patio until I could replant them. They seemed perfectly happy with this turn of events, and took hold immediately when I transplanted them a couple of months later.
Sweet woodruff spreads freely, yet it’s easy to trim back if it strays out of bounds. When mine starts encroaching on the lawn, I just dig it up and replant it somewhere else. Timing doesn’t seem to be particularly important; I’ve done this from spring through fall with excellent results.
Sweet woodruff will grow in moderate to deep shade, but doesn’t seem to mind sun, either. It’s a fine choice for bare spots beneath trees and shrubs, and pairs nicely with bulbs and hostas. In spring, it produces small but fragrant white flowers with a scent usually described as “vanilla,” which I don’t find entirely accurate. Whatever you call it, the scent is absolutely lovely but never overpowering. Easy-care, self-propagating, a delightful scent—really, what more do you want?