Sweet woodruff is just sprouting in my shade garden. It will grow into a thick carpet of dark green pointy leaves with starry white flowers. For such a small plant it has great detail. The mini splays of lance shaped leaves grow in whorls. The tiny, four petal fairy flowers are impactful when sprinkled liberally over their green foliage. Sweet woodruff’s fragrance is reputed as ‘fresh mown hay’; to me it just smells green and fresh. This perennial is a top notch ground cover under shrubs or amongst hostas. The low growing, sprawling habit intermingles wonderfully with other perennials in part shade or shade. Sweet woodruff does spread easily, but its shallow roots make it easy to transplant or pull back. It does not choke out other perennials, rather it skips along to fill in gaps, all the while helping to ward off weeds. In a small garden, sweet woodruff may be too aggressive unless it is constrained by rocks or other plants. My favourite application is under-planting spring bloomers like bulbs, columbine or bleeding heart – the speckling of dainty white flowers is the perfect backdrop for colourful blooms, and later covers browning bulb foliage.
Technical stuff – Sweet woodruff/gallium odoratum, hardy perennial to Zone 4, height of 4”-8”, indefinite spread (can be aggressive), part shade to shade, blooms late spring into summer.