Groundcovers, colourful the whole year

Discussion in 'Groundcovers' started by Olafhenny, May 16, 2008.

  1. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi all:

    I have converted my remaining front lawn into a rock garden last May. Planting commenced on May 12 and was substantially completed by May 19. The general objective was to achieve complete weed proof cover, through which other plants can be inserted or which spring bulbs, such as tulips daffodils and crocus can penetrate.

    I am very pleased with the progress to date and thought I should share.

    Picture #1 shows the main area on June 10, 2007, 3 weeks after planting was completed.

    Picture #2 shows the same area on Dec. 05, 2007 after the first dump of snow has come and gone. I have posted this picture previously in February 2008, when it looked exactly the same, including the flowering winter pansy after the snow had finally left for the winter. The objective of that posting was to show, that ground covers can be colourful even in the dead of winter.

    Picture #3 shows the same area on May 15, 2008, almost exactly one year after planting.

    Picture # 4 again shows this area again shot from the top of a ladder, to better show the coverage achieved to date.

    Picture #5 shows the extension of the newly landscaped area to the right. The 3 rows of pavers originally separated the old lawn from the landscaped area. In order to not have to remove these pavers, and to justify their existence, I decided to restrict plants higher than 2 feet to the old landscaped area to the right and keep the new landscaping to under 2 feet.

    Picture #6 is from a different place in our yard. The ground cover here is the highly invasive trifolium repens atropurpureum, a 4, 5 or 6 leafed clover, which in this case is firmly rooted into ground water about 4 to 6 feet below. It therefore needs no irrigation. The hosta, which IMOEO contrast beautifully with the 'dark dancer' clover and the flowers in the stacked pots are individually drip irrigated.

    A big word of caution though: This clover is highly invasive and should only be used in areas in which it is fully contained by pavement, walls or deep shadow. It does not seed out however, therefore it cannot 'jump' containment.

    I am keeping all plant labels. If somebody is interested as to the identity of some of these ground covers, just ask.
    Best,
    Olaf
     

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  2. joclyn

    joclyn Rising Contributor

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    it looks really nice!!

    could you tell me what all the purple stuff is, please?
     
  3. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    High Joclyn:
    I am not sure, which one you mean by purple. Various people attribute the designation 'purple' to anything from deep red to maroon and violet.

    So I have attached another photo below of two aubrietas both of which might be called purple by some.

    The stuff to the left is ‘red rock cress’ or ‘aubrieta deltoidea’, that to the right is ‘purple rock cress’ or aubrieta x cultorum the large area above is 'woolly thyme’, just about to start blooming and in the lower right a branch of ‘flower carpet rose’.

    The aubrietas bloom full force now and will continue to do so although more sparsely throughout the summer into fall.

    The woolly thyme only blooms shortly, but makes up for that by spreading fast and preventing any seedlings of weeds to sprout through its thick cover, except at the very edges of the patch.

    The flower carpet rose starts blooming in June and will continue to do so until frost. It is hardy and very disease resistant.
     

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  4. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Olafhenny's Groundcovers
    Very interesting. The clover you said has a very deep root... I have seen this for sale, I think, but didn't realize it was so strong...

    Do you have Genista pilosa [Vancouver Gold] growing? [flat mat of bright gold-yellow blooms on tiny-leaved rambling stems] I have really taken to that as a groundcover in my experimental bed -- it took a year to develop though. Mixed with or beside Lithodora "Grace Ward" [blooms brilliant cobalt blue, very startling] makes a spectacular contrast at the moment... wish I had planted more. Both seem to be evergreen, the Lithodora very dark green.
     
  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Very nice - are you attracting comments / compliments from your neighbours?
     
  6. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    As a matter of fact, they all stop to look at it. It has just begun to bloom; the Lithodora I thought had disappeared and not thrived when I planted it last year -- there is other lush greenery nearby which just may have obscured it, some heather and a large looming Japanese-style cedar or cypress tree [sorry, I should know but have yet to identify it -- about 6 feet tall, irregular placement of branches, strangely shaped, dark-green with slight hint of gold or light green in new growth, thick-foliaged, stout-trunked... when I get that darn camera I will take some shots -- but it is developing this spring, obviously! The two very polar-opposite colours are simply spectacular together and make a wonderful and not often-seen colour combination, they are so deep and intense.
     
  7. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Janet:
    Thank you for your suggestions. I am not sure about genista pilosa. I have certain criteria for all the plants in my rock garden.
    - First and foremost the ground covers have to have the potential to form a solid cover, dense enough to prevent any seeds from germinating.
    - Secondly they have to fit into my chosen colour scheme, which includes all blues, lilacs and purples as well as reds and pinks, which have a hint of blue in them. Lime and lemon yellows are in (all these colours suit my wife), but 'my' colours, with a yellow base such as golden yellows (marigolds) and tomato reds are out. That keeps the plants visually compatible and the appearance cohesive despite a large array of different colours.

    In that context the lithodora looks very interesting, but unfortunately it is not hardy here. :(

    Best,
    Olaf
     
  8. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Yes, Daniel, thank you, as a matter of fact, it has caught the attention of the members of our (bare land) strata council and they have asked my assistance in re-landscaping Part of our front entrance.

    Unfortunately in a retirement setting that would have been a collaboration project by volunteers with everybody's opinion carrying equal weight, inevitably ending up in a hodge podge of compromise. So I ended up volunteering to 'do' it. The area is almost 4 times as large as my front yard and dominated by a very beautiful compact maple tree. The preliminary planting was now substantially completed with help of - and equipment from others, but reflects, what I wanted to do. I will add a few more plants tomorrow and then take some pictures to record the progress from here on out.

    Best,
    Olaf
     
  9. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Olafhenny: Do I see any Sedum makinoi "Ogon" there? It is very low, and certainly very soft-stemmed and breaks off with walking on it, of course, but a lovely pale lime-green to pale greenish-yellow, depending on the time of the year, etc; very small-leaved item. Don't know if it would be hardy up there either. But I love it, it adds a bit of lime-yellow to the groundcovers. It spreads a bit but is far from a pest.

    Your groundcover garden is wonderfully closely-covered! I think you itemized what you actually had in it earlier, not sure, so I will go back and search when I have time. I am fascinated by the tight clover cover as well...
     
  10. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Janet,
    again I am sorry to say, that sedum makinoi 'ogon' is hardy only from 7 to 9 and we are in Zone Six. However I do have a sedum, which covers the same colour range as makinoi ogon and some more. Unfortunately I do not know its name. I bought it a few years ago and did not like the appearance. It was a pale fleshy green and I was about to discard it (with the ID tag), when it occurred to me, that it would be useful as an interim ground cover until the rest had spread enough and that I still could rid of it then. After I had transplanted it from a location with limited sun to one with full sun, it suddenly changed, became leaner and more colourful adding more life to the garden than most other plants in winter, but by then I had tossed the label out.

    The attached photo was taken the same day as photo 2 of 6 above i.e. after the first snow dump had come and gone last December. That was when it was at its worst.

    Best,
    Olaf
     

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  11. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Interesting. I think I have seen one like that at GardenWorks and I will look for its name... I have planted one small sample of golden "creeping jenny" [proper name Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea' photo at http://www.perennials.com/seeplant.html?item=1.340.100 -- I was trying cautiously for experimental purposes, not wanting it to take over... it looks sort of like a larger-leaved sedum makinoi "ogon", but its tentacles reach out rather than the slow-but steady clustering of the first one. I have tried to plant things to obscure weeds too, but in a very weed-prone front garden I find them coming up even right through the tight original clusters of elfin thyme and corsican mint in some cases... especially weedy are the new seedlings of Stachys byzantina or "lambs' ears" which used to be there... those tiny seedlings are everywhere and require constant weeding...
     
  12. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Hi Janet:
    I have lots of creeping jenny in my yard, in shaded areas, but I am disappointed with it. It should be called "creeping away jenny". It grows nicely and densely for a season or two, but as the runners invade new areas in full force, the originally planted area re-establishes only sparsely in spring.

    I have now almost finished the basic landscaping of part of the entrance to our strata complex. There I have planted there some 'vinca minor aurea' and I believe, that I will use it to cover the areas the 'jenny' has almost vacated in my yard. If it behaves similar to the other vinca minors, it will take about 2 growing seasons to cover the area to the point of being weed proof, but the 'jenny has choked out the weeds there pretty effectively already.

    That your weeds penetrate your thymes amazes me. While I have some weeds occurring around the edges of an expanding patch of thymes, creeping baby breath,
    creeping phlox, snow in summers as well as various aubrietas, nothing but spring bulbs will penetrate them in the established core or mature cover. At the edges it happens IMOEO, because the weeds germinated, before the cover was dense enough there to choke them.

    I must say, that my ground covers are often more dense than the same types I see in other gardens. That may be, because I fertilize every 6 to 8 weeks during the growing season and spread peat moss on any remaining bare patches in spring and fall.

    Best,
    Olaf
     
  13. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    On looking at the situation more closely, it is only in areas around the foot of a cherry tree that the weeds come through...where I have planted the tiniest, flattest groundcovers like elfin thyme and corsican mint, next outward from the moss which I imported to lie close to the tree roots [the weeds like the moss for sure] -- and the soil is not great there; otherwise, the woolly thyme in particular a bit further away from the trunk stays thick and impenetrable. I am trying to grow kinnickkinnick in a more fertile area a few feet back from these which has been fertilized, too, but I used tiny plants as inserts about 1 foot apart and they are slowly growing, but not fast enough to be good weed cover yet -- they were planted last fall. So, I will fertilize again I have used sea soil as you have used peat moss, though -- haven't done that since very early this spring. I am always afraid peat moss is drying -- it gets so dry and then it seems hard to soak up moisture. Do you not find that?
     
  14. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Funny, I have just ripped out a large area of kinnickkinnick to make room for that new landscaping at the front entrance. Kinnickkinnick is your typical drought tolerant plant for xeriscaping. That is it typically survives water shortage by giving itself lots of room to extract water from. Where there is plenty water, that is of course not necessary and it grows more dense, but I doubt, that it would ever grow dense enough to choke out weeds, though I have no experience with that scenario. In our case it was grown in a thick layer of pine bark, which was primarily responsible for the weed control. The greens spread above the bark layer and the roots below. There were few weeds. Most people in the strata did not like the appearance, therefore the re-landscaping.

    We have another section of our entrance area still covered with kinnickkinnick; less bark - more weeds.

    Peat moss basically has a moisture regulating effect, soaking it up, when there is plenty and slowly releasing it for the benefit of the plants. What I like about it is that after a couple of applications the top of the soil becomes like a soufflé especially in spring, so that small weeds lift out with practically no resistance and all the roots.
     
  15. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    I had not known of kinnickkinnick before moving to the West Coast [except that there are similar things, perhaps the same really, growing over the rocks on rocky cliffs at the coast and rocky bogs in Nova Scotia], so I thought I might use a local item for slightly raised groundcover... all in the way of experimentation -- surely the really prone cotoneasters would not be much more covering... I have tried lamiums but discovered one needs to stay away from those... at least the invasive ones. There is one smaller-leaved type I have which seems less aggressive and very well-behaved with a nice lime yellow-and-white leaf, slowly spreading. I don't find that the vincas thrive in my soil, for some reason, although everything else seems to. I have also used some prone conifers. In one area on the other side of a driveway I am still removing that [what I call] vile Houttuynia cordata 'Chameleon' which still has a deep network of connecting stems underground, quite deep... it keeps popping up where I have landscaped for a neighbouring townhouse, using dwarf conifers and mulch, with areas of rocks/rock garden perennials on my side, after taking out the lamium and chameleon which the neighbour did not like. It has an unpleasant strong salty-bitter smell.
     
  16. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Minor correction to post #12 above: The vinca minor, which I planted for the strata and which I now also planted in my own garden, to replace the retreating creeping jenny, is not V.M. 'aurea', but vinca minor 'illumination'.
     
  17. Sonja

    Sonja Member

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    I can recommend Vancouver gold, in my previous garden I had a mat of it. It is easy to control. Lithadora is also easy to control. All you need for both is a good pair of shears. I am hoping to grow heather in mats.

    I am looking for non invasive ground cover for a north facing slope. We have kinnikkinnick in over abundance and overgrown which I am hoping to get rid of gradually but I need ground cover that will hold the slope. Some ivy was put in (I hate the stuff) and has managed to tangle up with the kinnikkinnick. Both were getting tight with our Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca' (weeping blue atlas ceder) so I carefuuly removed them. I wonder if they were strangling the roots of the tree which has developed needle rust.

    Advice on evergreen, preferably low, plants would be appreciated.

    Thank you

    Sonja
     
  18. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    A very low, flat and bright bright green groundcover is Corsican Mint which is certainly evergreen here on southern Vancouver Island, and it is at all the nurseries. It is super-flat, however, and does not "mound", and may not be suitable for a slope if you need something with more substance. There are several thymes which remain evergreen, and I am experimenting with several -- not the herb thymes, which are floppy and die out in winter, but those sold with the groundcovers. Any major nursery has them, and although they are slow to spread the first year, the second year they take off. They seem dense and thick, and I now agree with Olafhenny above that by now no weeds are appearing in amongst the thymes! I find that the very flat "Elfin" thyme is a bit uncomfortable in winter and does not disappear or die back, remaining green, but does not have much substance then, becoming even more elfin, yet firm and tiny. "Woolly thyme" has a bit more substance, all year around, although is not as dainty but has a soft look. "Lavender thyme" mounds nicely and is almost like a thick tiny shrublet, shown here [http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/thylavender.htm], and a touch "wirier" maybe than some, but thick and attractive... I have not overwintered the latter, yet. I saw it for sale for the first time this past spring. I now have given up on kinnickkinnick. Nurseries specializing in dwarf conifers have some marvellous TINY, i.e. LOW ones which extend outwards and are, really, ground-crawling conifers and examples are in each type, from fir to spuce to pines to junipers. I have been experimenting with those - they are expensive, and one has to plant enough of them to fill in the blanks, but now with heavy watering they are really thickly needling-out -- too many kinds to specify at the moment, and sorry I'd have to go digging through my plant tags which not all are organized in a binder, as some are! Some are grey-green, some a rich deep green, some have a reddish cast, some bluish. However, a good nursery will point them out. Vancouver's climate should be happy with those. They don't crawl like groundcovers which extend multi underground stems, though, and technically one of the other plant specialists who participate here no doubt will explain how they grow and develop -- one main trunk per plant, for the groundcover conifers, I presume, with branches developing outward, on the ground. If you like variegated broad-leaf evergreen groundcovers, I have just discovered the wonderfully NON-invasive Variegated Mountain Speedwell [Veronica montana "Corinne Tremaine"] which looks like a Lamium [don't go there] but with smaller more modest leaves, and it lies flatter. It spreads, but not voraciously. It has a yellow-white variegated border on leaves, the central portions are a yellow-green, and "shows beautifully" to borrow a real estate term.
     
  19. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    sorry, something is wrong with the website quoted above -- I found it via Google as an illustration for you, but it does not show again -- try "lavender thyme" in Google... or search the website of the nursery which does seem to be the right one...
     
  20. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Again, I agree about the Vancouver Gold and the Lithidora above -- both thick and green and thriving now, somewhat different shades of green and nice together, rather taller than thymes but look more like heathers in a way as far as the architecture of the plants go... I had Vancouver Gold and Lithidora blooming together side-by-side in the late spring here, and the brilliant fully-saturated gold-yellow and cobalt blue together were spectacular. One could design a flag with these plants, growing on the ground... But the bloom is over now, except for the Lithidora which is still showing blue, maybe it will re-bloom more... the Vancouver Gold has a short period of browning flowers which is not attractive, after the main bloom is over, but once that cleans up the greenery structure is thick and nice and makes a very good ground and bank stabilizer, I would think... Now as I remember the Vancouver Gold looks a tiny bit straggly in winter but then my plants were new [only a year old].
     
  21. Sonja

    Sonja Member

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    Thank you Janet. The slope is north facing and most of it does not get sun. Vancouver gold and lithadora will go where the sun falls but I do not think thyme does well in the shade. I'll try the speedwell.

    Sonja
     
  22. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  23. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member

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    Euonymous fortunei, mentioned in one of the previous sites

    Here is a photo of a groundcover referred to in one of the sites above, on the following website:

    http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/PlantFinder/Plant.asp?code=S800

    This is a nice low shrubby groundcover apparently, subject to some problems with age... per this latter, and other, websites. I have been meaning to acquire some but never have.
     
  24. Sonja

    Sonja Member

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    Janet thank you, that looks to be just what I need.

    Sonja
     
  25. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

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    Sorry Sonja, I believe, that I am fairly late, as I have not tuned into this thread for quite a while.

    I have in the last few years collected experience with a large variety of ground covers and consider most of them very effective as weed control, but they are usually flat rooters and therefore not good at providing soil stability. I believe a combination of shrubs or large perennials engulfed by ground covers would solve both problems. One evergreen I have a patch of (on the other side of the driveway from the ground cover samples shown on top) and which tolerates shade well is 'siberian cypress'. It looks similar to juniper, but is more shade tolerant and softer, more cloud-like in appearance. My problem with it is that it does not control weeds as well as thymes and periwinkles.
    'Hostas' 'astilbes' and 'goats beard' are all shade tolerant perennials, with the ability to rise above ground covers.
    Best,
    Olaf
     

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