British Columbia: Groundcover needed - shade, evergreen, low, not invasive

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Freyja, Mar 24, 2010.

  1. Freyja

    Freyja Active Member

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    Location:
    Surrey, BC, Canada
    I am looking for a low (6" or under), evergreen groundcover for a mostly shady, smaller area on the north of my house. Ideally not too agressive, and it will be near rhodos & their shallow roots (if that matters).

    This time of year, it gets no direct sunshine, but in the summer, it will get a few hours of late afternoon sun. However, it is also probable that my Cornus Alba will provide enough shade once the leaves are out, that direct sunshine won't be available.

    I already have some pachysandra in another area, so I'm looking for something a little lower, maybe with flowers, and maybe a little more delicate.

    I'm wondering about periwinkle or ajuga -- but I've heard both can be aggressive. This will be in a bed right against a lawn, so I'd need something that can be easily kept out of the lawn.

    Any ideas? I don't know very much about good groundcovers for this area (Surrey, BC).

    Thanks in advance!!
     
  2. englak

    englak Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    Epimedium grandiflorum
    Asarum caudatum
    Astilbe chinensis
    Bergenia cordifolia
    Galium odoratum (a bit too friendly, but easily controlled)
    Oxalis oregana
     
  3. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    For a ground cover that at maturity will have standing blossoms and some larger leaves at about 6 inches high, I have Sweet Woodruff -- seen in photo at left -- which is a semi-evergreen perennial -- mine dies down in my area quite markedly in winter but pops back up quite well in early spring, now showing the rounded multi-leaflet leaf clusters. It's quite pretty when in bloom in summer, a nice cover when not. Definitely not foot-traffic friendly.

    I use Vinca minor [periwinkle], I don't find it spreads all that vigorously and it is very nice and evergreen but surges forth in spring. I have a variegated green-and-yellow- leaved one which is nice, quite colourful, and the blooms are more of a lighter mid-blue than the darker blue of the regular. It will try to invade your grass area a bit, but just pick up the strands as they head that way and arrange them where you want them, anchoring the stem down in the soil with a bent wooden toothpick, to hold them for an inch or so in the soil, and they will attach roots there... I think all the fuss about being invasive is unnecessary, at least around here. It "grows", so it's useful!

    I have a garden full of tiny thymes, the Elfin Thyme being super-tiny but it retains its greenness all winter, and some "presence", if not trod on too much. Corsican Mint looks similar and smells minty when walked-on, but I don't find it very evergreen -- it stays green but dies down to very low and quiet in December-January. It doesn't seem to spread -- I wish it did. Dwarf Hypericum or dwarf St. John's Wort is on the market now in some nurseries and it is one of my favourites - it shows a little brownness as seen in the middle photo in mid-winter, the middle photo shows a newly planted small one which is greener because just from the nursery, but returns to a lovely tight mat of very low tiny delicate-stemmed mid-green leaves with a slightly silvery effect in summer; photo close-up on right makes the leaves look large-ish but they are tiny, and tiny yellow star-like flowers in July... It does not spread very much, the thyme does a bit but in a nice carpetlike way.

    Check out the closed forum called Groundcovers -- some of my posts are there, and others too...
     

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    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
  4. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Beaverton, Oregon
    Vinca minor worked out pretty nicely at the property where I grew up. That's where I've maintained that plant the longest.

    We had no rocks or stumps in the patch, so once a year, I'd take the lawn mower and groom it down to about 2" to 3" high.

    Never really spread too vigorously.
     
  5. Freyja

    Freyja Active Member

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    Location:
    Surrey, BC, Canada
    Thanks for the replies. I love the look of the Sweet Woodruff, but was reading in some places that it can be terribly invasive and shouldn't be planted if you ever want to remove it (because you wouldn't be able to).

    I also read today that vinca minor is on a list of the most invasive plants in BC -- too bad, I'd love to plant that one. I don't have any empty space around me that could be "accidentally" infested with it. Does it only spready by runners? Or seeds too? If only runners, then I could keep it in check manually.

    I think I'll try the Corsican Mint in a shady area between some flagstones. I like the look of the Thyme, but not sure if my area is too shady.

    Thanks again! I checked out the groundcovers forum -- lots of good info there too.
     
  6. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    I tend to be a bit nonconformist re the doctrines of what is invasive -- I like Vinca minor and grow it in my garden, and it does spread by runners, in my case very slowly and certainly within the gardener's control -- but I need the coverage. I have seen it in parklike settings where I am sure it is not welcome, however, but so does one see grass! dandelions! clover! Oregon grape! Things that grow and develop are a nice change from things one struggles to grow... I have read that birds/insects spread the plant as well, perhaps it does produce seeds, but honestly I don't think it is a serious problem. Someone will weigh in on this, though. Neither Sweet Woodruff nor Vinca minor should in my opinion be denied a place in the garden -- my Sweet Woodruff is spreading nicely in a patch where I want coverage in the shade -- and it sort of disappears in winter to some degree. I can't cope with the fine points of what does and doesn't "invade", I think this is overblown to a large degree, and one has to appreciate the fact these plants fill a space one needs filled... what else is going to grow there? Various local weeds? Mulch laid down? Rocks? Sorry for the cynicism, but I like both plants and continue to grow them, and they don't seem to take over as much as English Ivy, a real invader and tree climber!
     
  7. silver_creek

    silver_creek Active Member

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    Location:
    Bellingham, WA, usa
    Two I can think of that are definitely slow and not invasive- Linnaea borealis, or Twinflower, and Gaultheria procumbens, Wintergreen. The first is native, the second adaptable. Both have worked in part shade areas for me.
     
  8. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    I have never had any luck with Gaultheria procumbens, the wintergreen -- it always turns brown as soon as the least little bit of dryness happens. The Twinflower sounds interesting but rare-ish... don't know how you'd get it.
     
  9. Silver surfer

    Silver surfer Generous Contributor 10 Years

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    Location:
    PERTHSHIRE. SCOTLAND.UK
    How about Pachysandra terminalis.
    Low growing,evergreen, grows very well in shade, spreads very slowly, but is never invasive.Small white flowers.
    To cover a large area you would need to plant every 9" or so, and wait till they knit together. Over here they tend to be a little expensive as they are so slow.


    http://images.google.co.uk/images?u...nG=Search&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&start=0


    Ooops, just re-read your question..... you already have it! Sorry
     
  10. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    Location:
    Langley, B.C. Stones throw from old HBC farm.
    London Pride (Saxifraga urbium) is a versatile ground cover and will grow in most soils and light condition.
     

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