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A lot of the best plant combinations in my yard have occurred without my conscious intervention.

The mahogany leaves of Ajuga reptans.

So much in my garden seems to occur as the result of serendipity.

As a long-time gardener I have finally come to realize that a lot of the best plant combinations in my yard have occurred without my conscious intervention. This is somewhat sobering to realize. Here is one example. On a strip by the edge of some stone steps in front of my house I planted Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’.

The ajuga, I thought, would look nice in bloom—a ribbon of vibrant blue against the dark foliage. But over the last couple of years the ajuga never really filled in as evenly as I had hoped, resulting in grass and dandelions invading the bare spaces, which were a pain to remove.

Last spring I noticed to my surprise that catmint had self-sown and sprung up at intervals between the clumps of ajuga. The grey foliage contrasted well with the chocolate leaves of the ajuga, and the lavender blooms of the catmint blended with the dark blue ajuga flowers. “Aha,” I thought, a pleasing combination and a lot fewer weeds because the catmint is dense and prevents many of the weed seeds from germinating.

Following the bloom, the plants’ forms provide some interest too, as the grey mounds of catmint undulate between the flatter shinier mats formed by the dark leaves of the ajuga.

I wish I could take the credit, but this combination is the result of serendipity.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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