A few years ago I purchased five lovely little perennials named Lamium maculatum 'Shell Pink'. These pretty little plants spread rapidly and bloomed from early summer until October. Several people inquired as to the type of plant and I told them it was called a Lamium. After all that was a progression from 'Beacon' or 'Beacon Silver'. This was the proper name of the plant. It did not occur to me to give the full name as I felt a Lamium was just that and could there be more than one? The answer simply stated is yes. However it did not occur to me at the time of purchase to name the cultivar as I believed the Lamium maculatum was sufficient. The 'Shell Pink' is a spreading plant displaying green leaves with a little silver along the leaf stem. The soft pink flowers bloom in summer and the specimen is fast growing. This plant attains a height of approximately 6" and can be planted in partial shade or shade.
A few years later I wish to purchase more of these delightful little plants. Without further adieu I proceed to the nursery, locate the perennial section, and quickly glance at a nametag identifying the plant as Lamium maculatum. Of course I thought it was the same plant. I discovered my blunder within a month. This specimen was flowering but the blooms were a much deeper colour and the leaves had a completely different appearance. My first thought was the nametag had been switched in the nursery and they sold me another plant claiming to be a Lamium. My second thought was to check the garden calendar I have been tending for the past two years. Guess what? The plant I purchased was indeed a Lamium but not the same cultivar. The nametag described this plant as a Lamium maculatum 'False Salvia'. The picture on the tag looked very familiar but the description was somewhat different. These small perennials have dark green leaves that are splotched with white. Pink flowers occur in summer and the plant attains a height of approximately 8". This plant grows well in sun or shade. Although the proper name was correct (Lamium=genus maculatum=species) the cultivar was completely different.
Luckily the new variety was in a different area and did not clash with the previous version. Actually I have combined the two in a separate garden and the result is quite stunning. After watching the growing habits and the rapid spreading abilities I decided to transplant a few of the 'Shell Pink' to a garden full of 'False Salvia'. This discovery was based on an error but the striking contrast of the two plants enhances my front garden box. The groundcover in that garden boasts many shades of green from hunter to mint and provides a pretty base for the larger plants. Also I planted a third variation of the Lamium in a lower garden and this variety has just recently spread to the large flowerbox creating yet another harmony of colour.
Last year I found another variety of Lamium maculatum this cultivar is 'White Nancy'. Sometimes learning through trial and error can be a blessing in disguise. You know why? It teaches you not to repeat the same error and increases your knowledge. Obviously I am enthralled with Lamium. This plant is so hardy, spreads rapidly, and blooms profusely, what's not to like about it? This wonderful perennial has handsome silvery-variegated foliage with white flowers. It can be used for groundcover or edging and attains a height of approximately 6". Plant in partial sun or shade and this gem will thrive. The best news is I recognized the genus, species and was drawn immediately to the cultivar. The lesson I learned was valuable and when I purchased the Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' I planted these specimens on either side of my porch. Thank goodness I knew they were exactly the same plant and would have the same formation and growing habit.