Landscaping any yard presents many opportunities and challenges. Opportunities might include creating a design to facilitate movement from one place to another, or focus attention on a great feature on the home or special plant. Maybe it is to showcase a special plant. And there are always challenges, like figuring out the best plants for that spot that gets too much sun for shade-loving plants, but not enough for most blooming plants. Or, plants that will take constant wetness, dryness, deep shade, shallow soil, etc. Or, plants that will fill in a small space, and not take over and crowd out neighboring plants.
Groundcovers are great problem solvers and also great unifiers, and make a good design even greater when used effectively. I wrote about groundcovers a couple years ago, with a second post of photos of some of the more common groundcovers used for different effects and situations.
Here’s a few more groundcovers I have grown that are much less common, some slow growing, most probably hard-to-find, but worth seeking out and using in the right location.
First is Chinese Wild Ginger (Asarum splendens). This patch is several years old, started from a single 3 inch pot. It is very slow to spread initially, but what a great ground cover for the right spot. It’s evergreen, and the silvery highlights make it stand out in this shady spot. Note that it is right up against the trunk of a post oak, and only needs occasional watering during exceptionally dry periods.
I got this Campanula Ringsabell Mulberry Rose from Skagit Gardens at a Garden Writers Assoc. meeting a few years ago. I had my doubts about how it would do here in northeast Texas, and planted it in a mostly shady location, tucked between a couple of azaleas.
First of all, it has spread very quickly, so at least in shade, it is quite happy. And, it has bloomed nicely the last couple of years. The bloom stalks tend to fall over, I think because of the shade, so I plan on moving some to a sunnier location this fall to see how they do in a more challenging spot. The foliage stays very clean, and overall, I’m impressed.
Another plant I picked up at a Garden Writers Assoc. annual meeting that I really like is this Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchellus ‘Lynnhaven Carpet’. It has large grey-green, fuzzy leaves and forms a dense, ground-hugging cover. I’m growing it where it gets shade in the morning, and part sun during part of the afternoon.
In April, it bears light lavender flowers on top of 12 inch stems. I’ve found this to be an easy to grow, carefree native perennial (this cultivar is from Virginia) and it seems to be happy in moderate sunlight to full shade. Its common name is called Robin’s Plantain or Fleabane.
In the above photo, above the Erigeron is Spotted Mexican Wandering Jew (Tinantia pringlei), also sometimes called widow’s tears. I got my start from the Fort Worth Botanical Garden several years ago and have had it ever since. It dies back in winter, but faithfully comes back every spring, both from dormant crowns and from seed. Yes, it does self-sow with abandon, but it is really easy to remove unwanted plants. It makes a great filler, and the dark purple-spotted leaves and small light purple/blue (lavender) flowers are eye-catching.
Finally, another wonderful native groundcover is partridgeberry, (Mitchella repens). I got mine from a rental house in Tyler, just a small rooted cutting, and it has slowly grown in to a nice, flat mat in a shady spot by my front door. Its leaves are small, and it is so low growing, that you have to be careful leaf litter does not cover it up in the fall and winter. It has small white flowers that turn in to red berries. While mine has bloomed, I have yet to see fruit. It is slow growing, so patience is needed, but a great native, evergreen ground cover for small areas.