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Black Scallop Bugle Plants

Ajuga reptans Black ScallopFeefo logo

The details

Ajuga reptans, Ornamental Bugleweed

  • Colour: Blue
  • Flowering: May-June
  • Foliage: deep green/purple, glossy, evergreen
  • Height x Spread: 20cm x 90cm
  • Position: part to full shade
  • Soil: well drained, moist
  • Native
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Description

Black Scallop Bugle

Bugle, Ajuga reptans, is a really useful garden plant, and the variety Black Scallop adds welcome drama to that utility. The reason being is it's a tough, hardy and really rather lovely ground-cover perennial that prefers a shaded spot. Plant it around a group of deciduous shrubs or trees and it will thrive (if the tree's roots are abundant, digging in some leaf mould or garden compost as you plant will make Bugles even more at home). As well as being a solution to one of the garden's most common problems, it is also a lovely plant in its own right. The dark green, purplish leaves are – surprise – loosely scallop-shaped. They're glossy and evergreen too, so that mat of colour will be there right through autumn and winter. The flowers start to open from late April, upright little spikes of electric blue-purple, like plump, dark lavender stems atop a shimmering ocean of deep moody green. 

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Studies in light and shade

Because Black Scallop has such dark, dramatic leaves, it pairs beautifully with plants that have paler foliage, or bark. Obviously you'll need another shade lover to make a good companion plant for bugle, perhaps Euonymus fortunei Emerald Gaiety, which will creep along the ground alongside the ajuga, its cream and pale green variegated leaves contrasting dramatically with that dark scalloped foliage. Or consider planting under a pale variegated dogwood such as Cornus Alba Elegantissima. Another elegant contrast is with the glowing trunks of silver birch. A copse of these, underplanted with Black Scallop makes a wonderful spring feature.

This is a ground cover plant, so it will spread out, sending out stolons that soon put down roots and make new plants. If it spreads too far, just pull out anything you don't want – it's not invasive or deep-rooted, so it's easy to do. Being low growing, it makes a good softening edge to a pathway, where you could combine it with soft, bouncy green hummocks of mind your own business (Soleirolia soleirolii). Wherever you plant it, do make sure it's kept well watered; dry and in too much sun, it can suffer from mildew. But generally, it's a low maintenance plant that will thrive in a bit of shade, giving you year-round foliage colour and a dramatic shot of blue from late April to early June. If you like, cut back the flower spikes after flowering to neaten things up.

Features

  • Colour: Deep blue/purple flower spikes
  • Flowering: May-June
  • Foliage: deep green/purple, glossy, evergreen and scallop shaped
  • Height: 20cm
  • Spread: 90cm
  • Spacing: 50cm
  • Position: part to full shade
  • Soil: well-drained and moist

A native creeper

Ajuga reptans (meaning 'creeping') is a native wildflower, most often found in UK gardens in cultivars such as Black Scallop, Caitlin's Giant and Burgundy Glow. It's also known as bugle or carpet bugle.

Cultivation Instructions

Plant in shade or part shade, about 50cm apart. Dig in some garden compost or leaf mould if the soil is particularly poor or dry. Water well until established.

Water well until established, feed with a general-purpose fertiliser in early spring, if needed. Cut back faded flowers in summer, if you like.