Saturday, May 7, 2011

GREAT NAME, GREAT PLANT!


I not sure which I like most, the flowers or the name…Gill-Over-the-Ground—which, for whatever reasons, always strikes me as vaguely Irish. Certainly the tiny lavender-blue blossoms, rather orchid-like in appearance, could have been fashioned by a leprechaun.  

Yet for many lawn owners and gardeners, this plant—also called Ground Ivy, Creeping Charlie, and at least a half-dozen other names—is the scourge of their backyards. Nothing more than a sneaky weed to be yanked, poisoned, and cursed unmercifully. Personally, I think they're the sort of folks prone to believe the only useful plants are purchased in containers from big-box retailers. 

A member of the mint family, Gill-Over-the-Ground is easily cultivated, forms a sturdy ground cover, grows great in shade, is pretty in appearance, blooms well, smells good, while its leaves make a tasty addition to salads, and can also be brewed into a fair cup of tea. What more do you want from a plant? Plus, not only is it lovely and edible, it's medicinal—with a long herbal history of use in treating everything from stuffy head colds to lingering coughs to scurvy, thanks to its high vitamin C content. Which is why Gill-Over-the-Ground was among the first plants to be brought to this country by European settlers, who did know the difference between a an all-around panacea and a vile weed.

Alas, nothing I say is apt to change anyone's mind. Its detractors see only a vining invader, a nefarious slinking purple plague, sending out its loathsome tendrils in the dark of night in a covert attempt to take over their manicured bluegrass. You either like it or hate it. And I like Gill-Over-the-Ground…both plant and name.
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26 comments:

ellen abbott said...

well, I think it's beautiful and it would be more than welcome to spread over my ground.

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ_
Great name - great pictures. They are lovely.

I am on hte mend. phew. Hope your Mother's Day weekend is peaceful as you reflect on your amazing Mom. I am so happy mine is 'here'. We are picking her up and bringing her here for the day. :-) There are SO many blessings in this. Hallelujah
Love to you
Gail
peace.....

Grizz………… said...

Ellen…

You betcha! At least in my biased opinion…and yours, too. A lovely, useful plant.

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

Thank you…and happy Mother's Day to you and your Mom. You've both been through a lot these past couple of years—each showing the other how courage, faith, and love of family can make a wonderful difference in lives. Treasure your mother each and every moment. Enjoy your day and time with her, and enjoy the pride and blessings of being a mother yourself.

Have a lovely weekend!

Marianne said...

it's ground ivy to me and the best and safest thing ever for clearing the sinuses. pretty too.

Rusty said...

It has to be my favorite 'weed' - a great ground cover which will grow even where grass wont. My scots uncle used to refer to it as 'Graveyard Vetch'. I got my first root from his place in the country.

I did not know it could be eaten though.

Grizz………… said...

Marianne…

Yup, folks with sinus problems, asthma, and congestion really swear by the plant's healing powers. And it's pretty.

Welcome to the riverbank! Or at least the comments section if you've been lurking awhile. Hope you always enjoy your visits here and return often. BTW, I liked your blog and will be back to read more. I especially enjoyed those baskets incorporating the "found" materials. Really neat!

Grizz………… said...

Rusty…

Never heard the name Graveyard Vetch, but you're right in that it excels as a ground cover—especially here in my rocky, shady soil along the river.

I often pluck a few young leaves and toss them into my salads. Being a mint, it has a distinctive taste, so you don't want to overdo it at first. But I think it makes a terrific addition.

Michael Bartneck said...

Like I've said a thousand times..and a thousand times again!;) It's funny how, if this or any "Weed" for that matter were rare , people would come to blows to possess it..as if most only add weight to rarety and not beauty.

Wanda..... said...

Creeping Charlie is allowed to thrive here along with the dandelions and clover, as long as they stay out of the flower garden.

Robin said...

Being a Live Nursery Specialist at one of those Godforsaken Big Box stores, I have met many a person who actually looked angry when talking about creeping charlie.

Those people are right up there with the ones who hate and want to kill all the wild violets. I asked one lady once why she hated such a pretty plant in her yard and she said because it didn't belong there. (Can you imagine her views on other, more important subjects?)

People who love pristine lawns have no soul. Thanks for the beautiful photos....

Grizz………… said...

Michael…

You are exactly right! Sure, gill-over-the-ground is a little lively…you have to keep it controlled in areas where you don't want it. But lively and tough are exactly the traits you want in a good, no-hassle ground cover. And with this plant, you get beauty and a useful herb, to boot. How cool is that!

The only thing you don't get is to brag about your exotic new plant.

Grizz………… said...

Wanda…

That's the sensible attitude, IMHO.

And re. dandelions, I've always said—and meant it!—if I didn't have a good supply of dandelions in my yard, I'd plant 'em. Everyone in my family loved dandelion greens. In season, we had them almost every day. And Mom would boil (but not season) bags of the cooked greens for the freezer so we could have them at least weekly throughout the year right up until the following spring's supple of new greens. They were, more or less, one of our garden crops…except they grew on their own in the yard.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

I thought about you and where you work when I wrote that line. I didn't want to make it sound like I was putting your store down…just poking fun at the people you think if it's natural, it's a weed and must be eradicated so they can buy something to plant there in its place.

There's the old saying a weed is just a useful (or pretty) plant without a good press agent. And that's often true. Parts of my yard are overrun with violets, too—violets so thick you can't see anything else. And for almost two months now, they've been blooming like crazy—and between them and the gill-over-the-ground, it's shades of purple and lavender everywhere. You wouldn't believe how many folks comment on "all those pretty flowers," and want to know what they are, where did I buy them, and are they expensive to have so many.

I don't know if the strict grass-only types are soul-less…but I expect they're so boring that changing the kitchen trash bag is the week's big event. And if violets "don't belong" in a yard, I don't even want to contemplate their views on anything.

Scott said...

Great images, Grizz. They almost make me want to like the plant. I (personally) don't like the odor the lawnmower kicks up when it hits a patch of Ground Ivy but, to each his (or her) own.

Grace said...

This grows in my lawn and I love it. I didn't know what it was called so thanks for posting this as every season I make it my mission to learn the name of a few wild plants that I see.

Robin said...

Re: 'I don't know if the strict grass-only types are soul-less…but I expect they're so boring that changing the kitchen trash bag is the week's big event.'....

Thank you for the laugh.

And I took no offense at the store reference. I sometimes call it the 666BBHS. I CAN say in all honestly, those places are soulless. Thank God for the spirits of the plants and some of the people who pass through....

Michael Bartneck said...

Love the violet comment Grizzman, met a lady who wanted to start a native garden, I raise natives so I gave her some of my violets..she was like."Oh my God! How beautiful..what are they?" I laughed and said.." You see that little green plant you keep runnin over with your lawn mower?..Let it go!"..A goup of violets in the woods is a beautiful thing to behold!

Grizz………… said...

Scott…

There's hope for you yet, my friend. Gill-over-the-ground is like a puppy—all you have to do is give it a chance and it will win your heart. And I agree, those suspended particulates pf mint oil the mower kicks up which you smell aren't to everyone's liking. Shoot, I put up disagreeable suspended particulates from time to time.

Grizz………… said...

Grace…

There are about a dozen names you can choose from. I like gill-over-the-ground for the way it rolls off the tongue, and because it's the name I originally learned the plant by.

Grizz………… said...

Robin…

I'm glad on the no-offense part. You know I'd never do that willingly. Way too often in my life quick retorts and smart-mouthed lines have gotten me into trouble and given offense where it wasn't intended. I try and think things through and take care…but I still mess up.

"Thank God for the spirits…of some of the people who pass through...." Good people make all the difference in your day and life. If only there were more of 'em.

Grizz………… said...

Michael…

It's sad the number of folks anymore who don't know violets grow wild, and that beauty is often free to those who simply allow it to thrive. And that woodland clump of violets—whatever the species—is, indeed, a beautiful sight.

Marisa @ getting Back To Basics said...

Thanks for the post...I have never heard it called Gill-over-the-ground but Like you, I like the name. Our lawn...an acre...has a mix of every thing, mostly weeds and as long as it's green I don't care...it all looks the same when it's mowed. We have lots of violets coming up all over ours...spread by seed from what I had originally planted in my flower beds but I love seeing them poking through the grass.

Grizz………… said...

Marisa…

I never heard it called anything but gill-over-the-ground until I began reading wildflower books…and still the name remains my favorite of all—and there are many—for this neat and lovely little plant.

Like you, I'm happy to allow the violets to have their way with my lawn. They're a lot prettier than grass. And who doesn't love a handful of violets?

Kay said...

Grizz---you always put things in perspective! A simple unassuming overlooked plant. Lovely name, too. Actually, I think the word "weed" is lovely. Wildflowers and weeds--my kind of yard!
Kay

Grizz………… said...

Kay…

Thank you. I guess I just can't get too bent out of shape about weeds, seeing as how so many of them are good to eat, have various herbal uses, and are often interesting and quite lovely. Moreover, there sure would be an awful lot of ugly, barren ground without weeds. I like my flowers…but I can also get along with most weeds.