This is the fifth home we have owned and while each house/property presented unique challenges this property has presented the problem of over growth. The landscaping is mature as far as trees, bushes and shrubs. There really is too much! Compounding the problem are several perimeter, pocket garden beds planted willy nilly with everything imaginable. Despite moving here the end of June 2007 we are still in the tear out mode. At the same time we are doing a fair amount of pruning because we want to keep the look of the gardens without the wild, unkept look. It is obvious that some plants have to go. In order to do this I have been identifying what is growing on the property then eliminating the problem plants while keeping or transplanting those plants that give us the look we want.
A sidewalk runs from the driveway to the back steps leading to the lower covered patio. On the house side this forms one small flower bed about 2' x 6' that would be perfect planted with a low growing ground cover. Also bordering the sidewalk on the house side is a L-shaped bend actually more like a P-shape with a narrow tail and wide bed in front of the kitchen window. On the other side of the sidewalk is a meandering garden bed with various plants that in most cases need to be moved. On of these plants is Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) identified with the help of one of my kids. There is a good size patch of this plant along with a smaller one.
and in various edible products (May wine, sausage, jam, jelly and soft drinks) however high levels of Sweet Woodruff is a very pretty, low growing, mat forming ground cover popular for shady locations. It has small, white, four petal flowers formed in cymes (each flower on one stem with stems joined together on a single stem) in the spring. The simple leaves form whorls of six to nine giving this ground cover a unique, delicate look. Sweet Woodruff is said to be slightly invasive but I have not found that to be the case. If anything I would like it to spread a bit more. Propagation is by division. When dried, Sweet Woodruff resembles fresh mown hay or slightly vanilla scented. Dried Sweet Woodruff is used in potpourri and it has both culinary and medicinal uses. Coumarin (a blood thinner) that gives this herb its scent can cause headaches while very high doses can cause vertigo, central paralysis and apnea while in a coma. Sweet Woodruff has not been used as a flavouring in Germany since 1981 however, home growers continue to use dried Sweet Woodruff for flavouring a variety of foods. I am going to stress the high levels as you would have to eat a lot of Sweet Woodruff to experience the negative side effects. Normal culinary levels of dried Sweet Woodruff is unlikely to cause any negative side effects.
I would like to establish a second patch of Sweet Woodruff. It would be a perfect ground cover for the first small garden between the sidewalk and house. Not only would it be pretty and delicate looking, it would be maintenance free. The plant will be ideal for potpourri as well. This will be one herb that I will be growing indoors as well.