tale of two stachys


I have always loved the fuzzy little lambs’ ears, but they do have a tendency to get a bit ratty after the first flush of new growth in the spring. Many gardeners choose to cut off the flowering stalks, but when I headed out with that intent, they were alive with bees. I was not deterred by the fear of being stung (it has never happened, so far), but by my desire to leave the bees to their work.

On a visit to Michelle at Jockey Hill Nursery, my intent was to find a groundcover for a berm in progress. When she suggested lambs’ ears, I was skeptical. She assured me that this new form, ‘Countess Helon von Styne Zeppelin’, or ‘Big Ears’, would cover ground quickly, suppress weeds and never get that played out look. I have never known her to steer me wrong, so I gave them a try. Wow! These things are great! The leaves have real substance, and while slightly less silvery than the original, they more than make up for it in staying power and density.


The photo fails to do them justice, but take my word for it: this is a plant that more than holds its own weaving through the big, dramatic statement plants. Michelle has a much better picture on her site.

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