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Sweet woodruff | A calming influence

Simplicity and scent are hallmarks of sweet woodruff

IT’S JUST GREEN AND WHITE! That’s how I would describe sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum). So often, the flashy, brightly colored flowering perennials get all the attention, but people also are opting for a simple green and white color scheme in their gardens. And for good reason—green and white evokes a calming and serene mood in a garden space. 

Sweet woodruff is a beautiful perennial that prefers to grow in part shade to shade. It can form a ground cover when planted in large enough numbers or if its environment is conducive to spreading. It does best in a moist but well-drained site. It can go dormant in summer’s heat if it is planted in a drier, sunny location. 

To me, sweet woodruff’s leaves look like a whirl or an umbrella, and they always capture my attention even when not in flower. The green is just deep enough without being dark and probably one of the reasons I find this perennial so calming. It grows only 8 to 12 inches tall and would work perfectly in an area where you want to extend a sight line. 

The deer resistant perennial is technically an herb. Its foliage is fragrant when cut or dried and smells like fresh-cut hay. Plant it as part of a woodland garden or in an herb garden, a shady perennial border or moist rock garden.

If opting for a green-and white-themed space consider a few of these: Hosta ‘Patriot’ or ‘Fire and Ice’, Aruncus ‘Misty Lace’, white creeping thyme, Lirope muscari ‘Monroe’s White’, Helleborous ‘Moondance’, white bleeding heart or Solomon’s seal. Each would be at home in your shade garden. 

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.

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