Groundcovers and year-round hardiness

Discussion in 'Groundcovers' started by janetdoyle, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    I would like to inititiate some discussion around a few groundcovers I am experimenting with in a patio-style garden in Saanich on Vancouver Island, basically a patch of ground between a patio and the back wall of a townhouse planted with groundcovers to discover which ones are stand-outs in hardiness, attractiveness, density, are useful under Japanese maples and remain low in height... ; in mid-day they are experiencing half-day sun, half-day shade, in a north-western aspect. I would appreciate any feedback on "Ogon", botanical name Sedum makinoi, which is a lovely small round-leaved groundcover and looks more delicate than other sedums. It is growing well, more yellow where it gets more light, seems tolerant of fluctuations of dryness and moisture. My question re Ogon is, is it winter-hardy in SW coastal BC? The groundcover I have not been able to find much info on is Hypericum "empetrifolium nanum", label calls it St. John's Wort although it is tiny and flat and tightly-knit, not invasive at all, not like any of the other St. John's Worts... We have grown Blue Star Creeper through the winter and it seems hardy, but not vigourous in winter, now blooming and about 3 inches high but are puzzled by the various names, Priatia pedunculata and Isotoma or Laurentia fluviatilis. This is strongly-growing and filling in, although I wouldn't call it invasive. More later! Just one technical question about how to format text in this -- the bolding is only producing bold symbols before and after, not bolding text. We do have some scripting turned off in our Firefox browser although I have enabled some of the features for this session.
     
  2. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    This is a reply to my own entry, the bolding obviously appears in the posted text. Another ground-cover I would like to have explained is Kinnikkinnick, as I have one or two versions, one is small, one is larger, I have lost the tags and am experiencing a lot of confusion around this plant.
     
  3. Laughing Dog

    Laughing Dog Active Member

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    Janet,

    My wife and just used a large amount of kinnikkinnick as a 'border' for a shrub garden we recently planted - so we did a fair bit of research on it. At our local nursary/garden centre they supplied two varieties of the "Bear Berry" as it tends to be more commonly referred to - one was a native cultivar, the other was a lovely hybrid developed by UBC Botanical Gardens called Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Vancouver Jade' (see http://www.botanicalgarden.ubc.ca/research/industry/arctostaphylos_vancouver_jade.php) our preference was for the hybrid due to its better disease resistance.

    We love the ease of this plant, and an excellent description is as follows (click this link to read the rest of the article courtesy of Ed Hume Seeds Company: http://www.humeseeds.com/efkinkin.htm) :

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2007
  4. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Thank you so much, Laughing Dog, I have printed off your reply for further use! I did see your varieties mentioned in the nurseries and purchased a very tiny Kinnickkinnick and the nursery owner thought it was a hybrid, it certainly wouldn't grow 40 cm tall I don't think... and I wasn't originally interested in taller groundcovers, only low ones for a patio, although now I want to try taller ones in another location. Sunset Publisher's Northwest Top Ten Garden Guide in the ground cover section mentions "Wood's Compact" Arctostaphylos uva-ursi but I'm not sure the tiny version I purchased is that exact variety -- by the way, I'd like to recommend this book to any groundcover enthusiasts, plus the tome Perennial Groundcovers by David S. MacKenzie, which I purchased in paperback form, still quite large, from Amazon.ca
     
  5. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Janet:
    As far as ogon is concerned I know very little about it, since it is not hardy here (and most of that I learned from you), But it is listed as hardy in Zone 7 and above and I believe that you are 8 or 9, depending how high and how close to the water you live. Therefore you are safe with it. Though there may be exceptions (see below).
    One important aspect of blue star creeper, you have not mentioned and which can be important in a patio setting, is that it is strongly traffic tolerant and is recommended as filler between flagstones. It has that in common with 'brass button' (leptinella squalida). Both are supposed to be hardy here, so I tried them as joint fillers between highly exposed concrete slabs. Leptinella could not stand the extreme heat our Penticton sun produces in concrete, but brass button thrived on it. In winter the problem was reversed. Blue star could not survive the cold between the slaps, but it did so elsewhere.
    The attached picture shows a section of our gazebo floor (with my foot added for scale). Before I planted that, I enquired at the local nursery about a traffic tolerant ground cover, which could also accept shade. I was told that brass button would do that; it would only lose its bronze colouring and turn green. I know now, that this was only half right. It does indeed lose some of its bronze toning, but it cannot take full shade (my gazebo is completely overgrown with grape vines and clematis). For that you need the green version, 'leptinella gruveri'.

    The picture is taken from a section near the entrance, where the L. S get still some sunlight. In the rest of the gazebo floor it withered away and I have now replaced it with L.G.. It needs probably until next year, before it achieves the density of the stuff shown in the picture.
    Another problem with installing this type of gazebo flooring is, that each little pot has to be planted individually and if one of the plants does not take, then you do not get any 'fill in' from its neighbours. You have to replant it and in this particular case there are 500 of them. :(

    Best,
    Olaf
     

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  6. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Wow, that is interesting, and the info on L.S. and L.G. is valuable too, as I see it for sale and I'm interested. What a beautiful setup there you have! I have since found out that Blue Star Creeper is super-invasive with many other groundcovers, and we are installing little barriers between them to retain both plants where desired. I will share a photo of mine at some point...! Thank you! I would like to mention that Corsican Mint is a wonderful cover, very flat and tiny, and stays a brilliant green all year 'round, plus a minty scent when stepped on. Seems quite good underfoot.
     
  7. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Janet, correction to my previous post:
    That should have said: "...but blue star creeper thrived on it"
    Sorry if I caused any confusion.

    As far as my set-up goes, I have also 3 "water gardens" one tiny one, one little one and one rather large one. I would like to post pictures and comments, but I have not found a spot yet in this forum. That is strange, because many gardeners have small ponds in their yard.
    Best,
    Olaf
     
  8. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    We should suggest to Daniel next week that we have a water garden forum -- you are right, why not? Our Blue Star Creeper is invading our little patio pond, as well! I love it, it makes a wonderful flowering carpet or a green carpet when not in flower, but it is determined. Mind you, water gardens are a technical specialty with much talk of pumps, liners and filters; and fish. So maybe we should suggest ground covers and other plants suitable for edges and surrounds of ponds! A briefer title would have to be thought of -- "Water Garden borders and edges?"
     
  9. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Janet:
    What a great idea! - actually two great ideas:
    - to let blue star creeper or any other ground cover, which is willing crawl over the edge of the pond. It would certainly soften the now stark appearance of the 11 wide concrete edging of my midsize pond (the one I called little above). I put that pond in last August, but did not get around to planting it and the surrounding edge until late September. So far no ground covers (I mainly bank on woolly thyme there) have shown any inclination to climb across.
    - to suggest to Daniel I trust you realize, that you have just been delegated to do that ;) :)

    As far as pumps, filters and other gadgets are concerned, I have done none of that. In my tiny serenity pond, just a raised one inside the gazebo, I have grown in the past pygmy water lilies, water lettuce as well as even water hyacinths without any problems. Even hatchling koi, the eggs of which I accidentally imported with water lilies, which I had wintered in the big pond, survived all summer, until I had to drain it in fall. It is too early to tell how my mid-size pond will perform without circulation, but I suspect, that the gadgetry is mainly good marketing and the water plants are all that is required to keep the water fresh.
    Best,
    Olaf
     
  10. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    I have seen an article somewhere, in one of my garden magazines, or in a newspaper, on water gardens with the only control on water quality being the plants growing in it or on it, and that a certain percentage of plants in the pond [or with foliage on top, can't rememer which] keep the water clear; I think it was actually an article I noticed online from a newspaper gardening section, now I can't remember where... Our 5 or 6 goldfish were doing quite a good job on that because my husband, who is an aquaculture geneticist, doesn't feed them in the summer, forcing them to eat whatever insects/other growth they find in the pond. Sadly, the fish got eaten one by one by "something" invading our fenced patio at night... we don't know "what"! Some people around here [Broadmead, Saanich] say mink-type animals -- I saw one too, on our front path, one day... Others say owls. I will email Daniel next week about the forum for pond edging/surrounds.
     
  11. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Don't forget to toss raccoons into the collection of nightly robbers and suspect culprits. :)
    Can you make that "Ponds, edging/surrounds"? I am also interested in discussion of what is actually in the water; - or simply "Water gardens" the forum can then be divided into various branches of interest as demand governs.
    Best,
    Olaf
     
  12. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    I am going to try to attach some photos of the pond edging, for this discussion. Elfin thyme, blue star creeper, and a mini conifer the name of which we have to search out, various collected mosses, and a thyme rock spray cotoneaster, I believe will show...

    Note clear water: can't see surface of water very well.

    This is a tiny pond, 5' by 2.5' or so.
     

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  13. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Beautiful, Janet, I like the way you have integrated the rocks, gravel ground covers an other plants. I did not quite have the luxury of space to do something similar. I only had a non-landscaped area of about 10' by 8' available and needed someplace deep enough to winter the various small water lilies and water hawthorne in. So, that called for pretty steep banks to achieve the min depth of 24".

    BTW the designation 'Water gardens' would also allow people, who have landscaped creeks or little rivulets running through their property, to have their say.
    Best,
    Olaf
     

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