This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum Durable Delights, 30 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region.
Ajuga reptans "Catlin's Giant"
Size: Under 1 foot tall
Bloom season: Spring and early summer
Exposure: Full sun to full shade
Pruning needs: Little or none; remove spent flowers; divide every three years.
Water needs: Once established, water deeply every two weeks.
Snapshot: Related to mint, this attractive ground cover also known as carpet bugle is remarkably tough. Forming a dense mat that blocks out weeds, ajuga tolerates all kinds of soil conditions, helps control erosion and makes itself at home in sun or shade. The scalloped foliage hugs the ground, staying under 3 inches tall. The dark-bronze leaves tend to be smaller in full sun but can make an unusual border along paths. This ajuga can be used to edge container plantings, spilling over the sides. In late spring, 6-inch spikes of vibrant blue flowers attract beneficial insects especially butterflies. Another plus: Deer don't like ajuga and tend to leave it alone. The one drawback: Its underground runners can be invasive. You can see specimens outside the arboretum's headquarters and in the Ruth Risdon Storer Valley-Wise Garden on the UC Davis campus.
For more on Durable Delights, click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu
See the arboretum's Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars at sacbee.com/home_garden