Thirteen years ago this summer, my husband and I ripped out every inch of our small urban backyard—lawn, brick patio, mediocre gardens, sidewalks—and we started anew, with the plan to concentrate on hardscaping that first season. The bricks were repurposed in a sidewalk and garden bed walls. Then we hauled in some fieldstone to make a couple of patios.
Our vision was to plant between the stones, so we laid them with a couple of inches gap to be filled with dirt the following summer and planted.
But I couldn’t wait. I wanted to plant a ground cover right away. I needed something that could take some foot traffic, thrive in part shade, survive our Zone 4 winters and produce flowers. Too much to ask? Say hello to moneywort!
Also called creeping Jenny, it was one of the few plants still in good supply at my local nursery. I got them in the ground quickly and then watered and nurtured them through the fall.
A harsh winter followed (that’s easy to remember because they’re ALL harsh winters here!), but to my delight the dears hung on. They practically filled every available nook and cranny of that patio the following spring and summer. I was thrilled—and a little nervous about their vigorous growth. Was this a guest I’d regret inviting to the party?
Then in midsummer, our patio exploded with a carpet of vivid yellow flowers.
At that point, I decided I’d do what was needed to keep it in check, as long as it gave me such a glorious show. And I won’t lie: I’ve had to work to keep it from taking over neighboring beds. In fact, today Lysimachia nummularia is considered invasive in some parts of the U.S.
And I’ll admit that some years when I haven’t stayed on top of it, I’ve considered ripping it out. I’ve even replaced some of it with creeping thyme.
But then it blooms and once again I’m dazzled by its beauty. What can I do? I’m addicted.
Kathy Childers is editor-in-chief of Gardening How-To magazine. She gardens in St. Paul, Minnesota.