hardy groundcover for rockery??

Discussion in 'Groundcovers' started by parkeey, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. parkeey

    parkeey Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    kent
    i have 2 quite sized beds that have a rockery on, they get quite weedy, can anyone suggest some good ground covering plants or alpines that will hopefully fill in the spaces and stop these weeds! cheers
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,994
    Likes Received:
    680
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    You'll have to get rid of the weeds first, maybe using a herbicide.
     
  3. parkeey

    parkeey Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    kent
    ive dug all weeds out by hand, back breaking work but its done now..
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

    Messages:
    20,994
    Likes Received:
    680
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    Soil and exposure? Desired attributes besides covering ground?
     
  5. parkeey

    parkeey Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    kent
    soil not bad , weeds seem to love it, just low maintenance and maybe bit of colour.
     
  6. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Penticton
    I have great success with these frost resistant ground covers:
    The following ground covers still sported healthy flowers in November, even after several episodes of frost dropping briefly to as low as -8^C:
    • Moss Phlox; Phlox Subulata (emerald cushion blue) with blue blossoms
    • Moss Phlox same as above, with pink blossoms is also available in pink, red, lavender, blue-purple, or white
    • Creeping Baby Breath (gypsophila repens ‘rosea’). Also available in white ‘alba’.

    Frozen, but still with attractive pom-pom like flowers:
    • Ameria Maritima (Duesseldorf Pride) Maintenance: Plant clumps tend to die in the center over time. As this happens, the plants should be divided. May reseed, but not prolifically.
    Wintered well:
    - Dragon’s blood stonecrop
    - Woolly thyme (covers well and fast)
    - Snow in summer cerastium tomentosum spreads very fast
    - Dianthus 'flashing light' spreads not quite as fast as the previous two, but seeds out profusely shortly after first bloom is over.
    - Evergreen candy tuft
    - Aubrietas (rock cresses) variegated or plain green all with red or blue blossoms.

    All of the above as well as many sedums are tight enough to prevent weeds from penetrating within the established part of their patch, but you have to keep weeding in their 'outskirts' until the various patches have grown together to form a solid blanket. You can plant other plants with them and let those to be surrounded by the ground covers or you can plant shrubs right through them. I have heather, lavender, flower carpet roses and junipers engulfed by them or still in the process of being engulfed. Spring bulbs like tulips, daffodils, crocuses and most hyacinths are with their stiff leaves able to power through the ground covers.

    These ground covers not only keep weeds out, once established, but they also keep the moisture in, by keeping sun and wind from getting to the soil and by having very limited evapo-transpiration themselves.
    Good luck,
    Olaf
     
  7. parkeey

    parkeey Active Member

    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    kent
    excellent
     
  8. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    629
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    Thank you, Olafhenny, also. I have been trying various groundcovers amoung shrubs in a townhouse front garden patch and since we are in Saanich among hills but in a low shady spot [i.e. frost hollow], with areas of sun, it always seems cooler here than elsewhere in Victoria. Winter was long and chilly this year. All my groundcovers seem to be barely awake for spring although it's mid-April, and I am getting impatient. I love the yellow-green "Ogon" Sedum makinoi [definitely not a walk-on, though] and the various low-growing thymes, both "woolly" and "elfin", and "Corsican mint" [Menta requienii] and "Corsican sandwort" [Arenaria balearica]. All green but not quite awake yet, especially the woolly thyme which is still not really awake. I have been trying woodier items like the Arctostaphylos uva-ursi or kinnickkinnick which still are pretty lazy to perk up this spring in our garden...
     
  9. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    1,058
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Parkeey, I would just see what your local nursery has and try one of each. You'll see what responds best to your conditions and can divide your vigorous patches.

    For a sunny area for both Janet and Parkeey I would consider a creeping juniper like Blue Prince or Motherlode.
     
  10. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    629
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    Thanks, I will go check out the creeping junipers. I am coming to the conclusion that this kind of thing is really the best solution, because they look good all year long, winters too. And, they have a "stronger" presence, both visually and in weed control, etc. I am still experimenting with my various groundcovers, but the frustration level is high because they aren't truly "strong" plants. Also the junipers would probably keep the deer from stepping into the garden, they walk over the other groundcovers without hesitation. Thanks, this kind of thing is what makes this forum such a great idea. Am enjoying it immensely. Please, KarinL, take a look at the Woody Plants forum and check out my question re forsythia pruning [I have plenty of books and info now, but I have a specific question there].
     
  11. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Penticton
    The old standby for shade and under confers is of course periwinkle (vinca minor). Creeping jenny, similar in colour to your ogon, also does well in shade to part shade as does ajuga reptans. They are shown mixed together in the top picture here: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/groundcover/ajuga_reptans.html
    A great maintenance free groundcover for anything but deep shade is dark dancer (trifolium atropurpureum). It is a purple clover, which covers an area fast 6 to 8 inches deep. As a legume it roots deeply and needs no water. [/B]BUT[/B] it is extremely invasive. I have it in a patch bordered by the house, a concrete slab walkway, the base of our outdoor heater/air condition unit and landscaping rock and juniper on the fourth side.

    So it is very well contained and forms an attractive background for three widely spaced hostas and a stack of flower pots with annuals. The hostas and the flower pots are drip irrigated and the legumes are probably tapped in the ground water. :)
     
  12. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    629
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    Great information! That photo you found of the creeping jenny in amongst the ajuga reptans is beautiful, it looks like a woven tapestry -- if I had seen that earlier I might have tried to plant a large area with that combination -- it would look simply spectacular with the colour contrast, and the ajuga reptans forms such a tight mat that it would be weed-proof. Gorgeous! Too late for me at the moment, I have more or less finished planting.
    ................
    I have a small "wild" groundcover I have left in, still don't have my camera handy to illustrate it, but it grows vigorously and could be considered invasive but is a delicate plant and pulls out easily, it's probably just a weed. But: request for i.d.:

    Grows in small circular clumps [per individual plant, perhaps from seed, I don't see runners] with rather delicate thin green-with a tint of pinky brown not-quite-heartshaped pointed leaves with lengthwise veins about 1 inch long, on pinkish-brown-green stems, about 3 inches high, and at the end of some of them a 2-leaf-opposite pair produces a little white flower or flowers on a delicate stem, 5-petalled white, about 5/8 of an inch across. The bloom is raised up so that when mature the plant with bloom might be almost 6 inches high. When fertilized and in June this mass developes a nice delicate frosting of bloom and looks like a fairy forest underlying the shrubbery... fairly evergreen all year, although dies back to smaller version, but stays green. [This is NOT that little weed with darker-green small leaves which has a tiny white flower.] The new little plants form in little individual plants, circular, quite recognizable, and are happy to fill up a space. You don't see them in "well-groomed" gardens of the spot-filled, mulched variety, but mine is semi-woodland in style with small shrubs and groundcovers... if fertilized this mystery plant really makes quite a show by the end of May, and goes all summer, under the other plants...
     
  13. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    629
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    Second Reply to Olafhenny

    Periwinkle in my garden does NOT spread! It clusters and grows upward! I have had periwinkle in Nova Scotia, and it spread out fine, making a great patch. Here, I see bunches of bloom facing up, sometimes up to 6-8 inches high, amid a cluster of leaves, and one or two long fronds... but it doesn't travel. Strange.
     
  14. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Penticton
    Yes, that is strange indeed. Have you had it before March last year? It usually spreads most vigorously the after main bloom in April is past, but periwinkle do tend to "cluster upward" prior to the spring bloom. They like to get started in at least some shade. Then they run out into sunny spots as well. Although the runners on the ground usually root, I have some up to 4' (1.2m) long ones running up cedar trees and in another spot up a fence. In both cases there is no place to root, but plenty shade and they do like acidic soil.
    There are a number of cultivars of vinca minor and they do not only have different colour blossoms. I recently saw one, which was advertised as drought resistant, so maybe you should try to buy a couple of new ones in the garden shop, or get them from a friend, where they have been trailing and see what gives.

    Best,
    Olaf
     
  15. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    629
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    They were planted late 2006 I think, over-wintered, and bloomed around March 2007 or April 2007 but did not behave like normal periwinkle to me. The soil has been treated with acid fertilizer for other acid plants and seems fertile for them. Now the Blue Star Creeper nearby has formed such a tight mat that I don't think the periwinkle will be able to spread, although they are clustering and blooming. We were experimenting with various things, maybe too close together, but we wanted to make the small surround to a patio area green. It's possible the Blue Star Creeper inhibited them from the beginning. But I have a variegated periwinkle which is not going too well either, in another spot with heavy shade a lot of the day, where there is no Blue Star Creeper. Other things near the variegated one seem to be thriving, like a small Abelia shrub and some dwarf conifers and ferns, and some Elfin Thyme which has not filled in enough to stop the periwinkle, and the variegated periwinkle is there but not really thriving. The case of the weak periwinkle! I must admit I don't see much of it around here although it's in the nurseries -- only in one garden did I see a very noticeable bed of it.
     
  16. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Penticton
    Since I inserted all my reply into the quote, the editor does not accept it as a freestanding message. So I believe this added para will satisfy it. :)
     
  17. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    629
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Victoria [Saanich, actually, northeast of Victoria
    Well, Olafhenny, this is a very satisfactory exchange. I must say, I hope the other readers of this forum have gained from it. It has renewed my faith in non-woody groundcovers and lessened my interest in the creeping junipers, etc. [the latter affected sometimes apparently by browning-out, bare stems, whatnot, not perfect either] although they certainly have a role to play. I will try some more periwinkle and in fact I saw more of it growing today as I walked up the street -- even over rocky outcrops and so on, from a small amount of earth at the base... thank you very much, and thanks to UBC Botanical Garden for sponsoring this.
     
  18. Olafhenny

    Olafhenny Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Penticton
    Thank you Janet, if you go to:
    - Trial Forums
    - Xeriscaping
    - What Does Xeriscaping Mean (Page1)
    - My Feb. 19 post shows part of my front yard, which was still a lawn a year ago. The picture was taken in December, after the first snow dump had come and gone. You will see, that it was still quite colourful in the middle of winter (It looked exactly the same in February after the last snow was gone.). I planted it all between May 12 and May 19. I intend to post 3 pictures when it is one year old, about a month from now, one taken one month after planting, repeat the one above and then what it looks like after a full growing season, to show the rather rapid progress. I will probably post it right here in the ground cover thread.
    Best,
    Olaf
     

Share This Page