When a gardener finds a plant that solves a multitude of landscape challenges with style, she wants to share it with the world. Get ready, world…you are about to add European ginger to your must have plant list.
Landscape Challenge #1: Shade
Asarum europaeum, the botanical name for European ginger, prefers a spot in the shade where it slowly spreads by rhizomes to carpet areas in the garden. It also surprises gardeners from time to time when it self-seeds itself nearby.
Landscape Challenge #2: Gardening with Tree Roots
Although it would choose moist soil rich with organic matter if given the choice, European ginger grows happily in the dry shade created by the thirsty roots of silver maples in my landscape. For the years I was working up to 80 hours each week, I never watered – ever. I didn’t have time. Only the strongest survived my inattention, and European ginger was one of the plants that not only endured, but thrived.
Landscape Challenge #3: Weeds
What gardener doesn’t battle weeds in her gardens? European ginger grows densely enough to thwart attempts by weeds to find a home within their foliage.
Landscape Challenge #4: Hardiness
Asarum europaeum is tough. Cold hardy in Zones 4 through 8, it doesn’t miss a beat in late spring snows in my Zone 5 garden. When temperatures rebound and snow melts, the foliage is unscathed.
Landscape Challenge #5: Season-Long Good Looks
The flowers of European ginger are insignificant. They are small, purple-brown, and hide underneath the leaves in early summer. No matter, this plant is all about the foliage. Glossy, leathery, rich green, rounded heart-shaped leaves are lovely all season long. In mild winters, foliage remains evergreen.
Landscape Challenge #6: Plant Partnerships
Some perennials are difficult to buddy up. Their flower color or foliage may require extra design consideration, but I can’t imagine another plant that wouldn’t be a suitable companion for Asarum europaeum. Fine-textured perennials like bleeding hearts, corydalis, and ferns are enhanced by its bold foliage. Its shiny, dark green leaves boost variegated neighbors like Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’, Carex ‘Ice Dance’, and Pulmonaria ‘Bertram Anderson’ and enriches the color of plants with vibrant foliage like coral bells and hostas. Let bulbs or wildflowers pop up through European ginger in spring or allow it mingle with other ground covers.
Have I convinced you? Add it to your list of perennials to add to your garden next spring and garden with me!