Monday, July 5, 2010

Unlikely Neighbors

Just off the side of the front porch, I have Lily of the Valley (convallaria majalis). It likes moist, fertile, well drained-soil to grow in. It will grow in partial shade but prefers complete shade.

Hello from me and my shadow!

Right next to the Lily of the Valley, I have Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia) It grows well in any sunny, well-drained location.

The only thing these two plants both seem to want is well-drained soil. So, why do I have them next to each other? Well, it sorta just happened.

The Russian Sage plants were here when we bought the house. We didn't know what they were. They were planted in nice straight rows from the porch to the fence along with some autumn sedum and arborvitae. Most of the arborvitae died. We rescued a few and moved them to the back yard where they are now keeping me from my previous rain gauge post. I knew what the autumn sedum was and that it needed more sun. It was moved to the back yard and seems to be happy there. Getting rid of the straight lines, we moved all the Russian Sage together in between the two windows and waited to see what it would do. It grew and bloomed. We never watered it. Great! We found out later that Russian Sage is suppose to have more sun, but since it seems to be doing well where it is, we're not moving it. It gets sun almost all morning. We leave it up all winter to catch snow and cut it to the ground in the spring. It spreads and it seeds. I have to dig up and pull out Russian Sage plants around the edges to keep it contained.

Now, what to put between the Russian Sage and the porch (I knew it needed to be something low growing so it wouldn't flop onto the porch). There was Lily of the Valley at a house we rented once and it smelled so nice. I thought the little space by the porch would get shade most of the day and it would get extra water from the porch roof. I put in a few Lily of the Valley plants that have now filled in the space they share with daffodils.

Sometimes, the Russian Sage and Lily of the Valley grow in each other's spaces. Apparently, they're friendly neighbors!


  1. I like BOTH of them. I also inherited some Russian Sage which I unsuccessfully tried to transplant when new sidewalks were poured in front of our house. I'm not sure what I did wrong, but none survived. I bought a couple of new starts and they are doing fine.

    Your L.oftheV. are thick! They must have been growing for a few years.
    Fine neighbors indeed.

  2. Looks great!! I am sure loving my Russian sage--and can't wait till it is full size! I think the spires make a great addition to my vases inside!! Do you cut a lot of your flowers for inside? Loved the moon flowers too--Those are something that I have had difficulty with-but plan to get more serious about finding a good place for some one of these years--I LOVE their fragrance in the evening!

  3. Looks like a great combination to me. I bet it smells heavenly!

  4. ~Rebecca
    I've found Russian Sage can be difficult to transplant when it's big. We were lucky when we moved ours as they hadn't gotten established well yet. Glad you got some more. They are a hardy plant. The L.oftheV. looked a bit sparse for a few years. It's filled in well just these last couple.

    Russian Sage does last well in a vase and it seems there is always plenty to cut. I don't bring them in as much as I should. Since ours grows near the front door, we can smell it when it rains!
    I had trouble getting a moon flower to start too but I'm hopeful now that this one returned from last year that I can keep it going. They can get kinda big!

    The smell is nice.
    Lily of the Valley in the spring.
    Russian Sage in the summer--especially when it rains.


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