Guides: Ground Covers
Blueberries (Vaccinium) make excellent ornamental edibles. Evergreen or deciduous shrubs, they are worthy of inclusion in the garden where they offer multiple seasons of interest. They can be successfully grown in any size garden or planted in containers provided they are grown in acidic soil.
Appealing to most gardeners, Dicentra (Bleeding Heart) are rhizomatous or tuberous perennials with heart-shaped flowers dangling in arching panicles or racemes above attractively divided leaves. Shade tolerant, they bloom over a long season, extending from late spring to early fall, in cooler climates. In hotter climates, flowering will usually stop in the heat of the summer, but may start again when the weather cools in late summer or early fall. Beautiful in leaf as soon as they sprout, they quickly add their charming blooms and make elegant additions to the garden when combined with other shade-loving perennials.
Native to Mexico and Central America, Echeverias are regarded by many as one of the most beautiful succulents. Evergreen, they form attractive rosettes of fleshy leaves and often resemble plum-petaled roses, waterlilies or ruffled lettuce. There are dozens of species, and hundreds of cultivars offering a wide array of colors, sizes or leaf shapes.
There are 20 different Snowdrop species and several hundreds of hybrids. Yes, several hundreds (!). The craze known as Galanthophilia has swept through the ranks of gardening enthusiasts in the past few years. While all snowdrops look the same to the uninitiated - dainty, nodding white flowers, with a dab of green, held on a thin arching stalk at the end of a thicker stem - they reveal their differences when you take a closer look.
One of the most beloved of the spring woodland wildflowers, Trilliums (Wake Robin) are remarkable rhizomatous perennials with unbranched stems, noted for the perfect symmetry of their leaves, petals and sepals which all come in groups of three, hence the genus name. Their blooms can be either showy or discrete, their foliage handsomely mottled. Jewels of the shade garden, they are fully hardy and will blossom and blend beautifully with other woodland plants.
There are 17 Hellebore species. Most are native to the mountainous regions of Europe, especially the Balkan region of the former Yugoslavia, south along the eastern Adriatic to Greece and Turkey. Many of the species have been interbred, producing countless hybrid Hellebores in a rich array of colors and forms.
Healthy, sturdy, easy to please, the Montana group of clematis includes the most vigorous deciduous climbers within the clematis family. Their flowers are not as large or flashy as those of the large-flowered Clematis varieties, but they are full of charm, fragrant and so abundant!
Ceanothus, commonly known as California Lilac, offers almost everything a gardener could wish for in a shrub: free-flowering, lovely foliage, ease of cultivation, drought and salt tolerance. Fast growing, these desirable shrubs draw attention with their stunning blue, white or pink flowers. When a California Lilac bursts into bloom, it is a breathtaking sight to behold.
Some Campanulas enjoy both a dense and rapid growth which helps to suppress weeds while creating a terrific blanket of flowers and foliage. They are perfect candidates for banks and slopes or areas that are difficult to maintain. Rewardingly floriferous, they form a carpet of nodding bells and are hard to beat in terms of floral display. Some produce so many flowers that they nearly cover the entire plant.
Easy to grow, low care and incredibly good-looking, Spanish Bluebell (Hyacinthoides hispanica) is a great bulbous perennial to have! Each bulb produces attractive, nodding, bell-shaped flowers hanging from sturdy, round flower stalks, atop clumps of glossy strap-shaped leaves. Blooming heartily from mid to late spring, Spanish Bluebell is a beautiful and reliable addition to the landscape, where it will happily multiply in optimum growing conditions.
Anemone blanda (Grecian Windflower) is a rewarding little plant that can easily provide a great deal of pleasure! Offering dabs of bright colors in mid spring, mounds of abundant daisy-like flowers show off in shades of white, blue and pink over a finely cut fernlike foliage. These daisies are a delight and seem to last for weeks. Ideal to plant in quantity along paths and borders, even under shade trees. For sheer spring joy, plant a few!
Noted for their graceful and bountiful flowers, Speedwells (Veronica longifolia) are long-blooming, easy-care perennials that are prized by gardeners for the distinctive vertical lines they bring to the landscape. Their spiky flowers, in shades of white, blue, pink, purple or violet, rise like slender wands which enliven the garden with color and clouds of butterflies.
Considered as one of the most colorful of all ground covers, Phlox subulata is also vigorous, hardy, trouble-free, deer resistant and requires low care. Highly desirable, this little evergreen perennial adds splashes of colors in spring when its masses of bright, fragrant flowers open up for 3-4 weeks in shades of blue-purple, pink, red or white. Irresistible!
Known as Persian Catmint, Nepeta racemosa is a truly gifted perennial that deserves a spot in any garden. Native to southwestern Asia, it forms attractive spreading clumps of ascending, upright stems, richly covered with white, blue or purple flower spikes and held above a strongly aromatic, gray-green foliage.
Resembling Forget-Me-Nots, Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian Bugloss) are rhizomatous herbaceous perennials with large, ovate or heart-shaped basal leaves and pretty sprays of small bright blue flowers in spring. Although their clouds of bright blue flowers add cool and striking color to the landscape, Brunneras are mostly valued for their beautiful foliage which creates a lush carpet of deep green or variegated leaves.
Truly hardy, Begonia grandis are tuberous perennials noted for their exquisite and lush foliage of winged-shaped, olive green leaves, adorned with red veining and colorful undersides. From midsummer to fall, arching clusters of nodding pink or white flowers can be admired at the tips of branching pinkish-red stems.