It's a lot to ask of a plant - to have pretty leaves and make effective groundcover yet not be invasive. Add to that having lovely flowers and growing well in shade - well, this new variegated bugle looks to be just the thing.
Most of the bugles we grow are varieties of our British native Ajuga reptans but they can both sprawl too aggressively and develop gaps in the weed smothering cover.
Native to central and southern Italy and Sicily, the much more compact Ajuga tenorii has smaller and narrow leaves on tighter growth but features similar dark blue spring flowers.
As with our native bugle a number of sports have arisen, first the purple-leaved ‘Valfredda’ (often sold as ‘Chocolate Chip’) and then variegated varieties of which Princess Nadia (Piotrek01) looks to be the most colourful and the most compact.
A sport of ‘Valfredda’ found by Piotr Szdzesny of Nadia Plants in Waddinxveen in Holland, in effect this is a neat, compact and more florally prolific version of ‘Burgundy Glow’ (below). The new growth is dusky grey purple with bright pink edges, creating a vivid colour, then as the leaves mature they lose their pink colouring and become grey-green with creamy margins. The leaves are smaller than those of ‘Burgundy Glow’, the new growth is brighter, the flowers a little darker and more prolific.
There are three other variegated forms of A. tenorii, all also derived from ‘Valfredda’. ‘Dixie Chip’ is also variegated but has less dramatic pink colouring in the shoot tips ,‘Toffee Chip’ has variegated foliage but is without the bright pink new growth as is ‘Vanilla Chip’ which has broader, more puckered white-edged foliage. All spread out more than Princess Nadia which can look very effective as a container specimen.
You can order plants of Ajuga tenorii Princess Nadia (Piotrek01) from Plant Providers and from Thompson & Morgan.
*Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author, which are not necessarily those of the RHS.