Monday, February 1, 2010

ground cover, in the winter months

Evergreen plants and winter interest. Who doesn’t want more of both? Usually when people use these terms they are talking about larger plants, ones that grab your attention. But ground cover can provide plenty of winter interest too! Here are the ground cover plants I’m loving right now…starting with the sedums…Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'…I LOVE this color...Sedum oregonense McKenzie River Form, a native even! Sedum spathulifolium 'Cape Blanco' (in the middle)
Sedum spathulifolium 'Purpureum' this one gets more vivid when the weather cools. Love it!
Sedum spurium 'Dragons Blood' this one will fill in as the weather warms.
Sedum ‘Spokane’ – ok not really. But that’s where it came from. It was growing on the rock wall in my garden in Spokane, when we moved I brought some with me. It will get thicker and more vibrant in shades of green, red, and brown when summer arrives.
Following the same naming convention this would be Sedum ‘Kennedy School,’ and no I didn’t steal it from the Kennedy School gardens…
The Concordia Neighborhood Association held a plant swap at Kennedy School last spring. You brought a plant; you took a plant, sort of thing. Great excuse to get out and dig a few things that were getting out of control and go trade for something new! Except they planned it for what turned out to be the first really amazing day of spring. Nobody showed up. Well except for me, and a very sweet older lady who had boxes and boxes of things. Luckily she wanted the Euphorbia I brought and I helped myself to the 3 flats of sedum she had brought. Not a bad deal!

The Sempervivum. I love them, have hundreds of them, but I can’t ever manage to actually track their individual names.
Sweet Woodruff or Galium. Someone once told me I would regret letting this loose in my garden. I ignored them; I hope I won’t regret it. Two years in it is still a slow grower.
Black mondo grass, or Ophiopogon planiscapus nigrescens. Not technically a ground cover I suppose but it sure acts like one.
And the green version…Lilyturf or Liriope muscari…
And the dwarf version…Dwarf mondo grass or Ophiopogon japonicus 'Nana'
This Saxifraga x urbium 'Aureopunctata,' or London Pride, is a favorite year round. Except when it sends up its ugly white flowers on a long spindly stick, they get cut of right away.
The fallen leaves from the Privet bushes make a mess but after a few dry days they get brittle enough that they are easily broken up and fall through the leaves of the ground covers to mix with the soil below.Another Saxifraga, this one Saxifraga x Geum 'Dentata. Very slow spreader but I love the teeth! I should have bought more. I will if I ever see it again.
Platts Black Brass Buttons (Leptinella) looked dead not to long ago, but its greening up now. I think the December temperatures were just too much for it.
And two very invasive ground covers that I never ever would have planted, they came with the garden. English Ivy, poised to take over the world…
And Vinca Vine. I am always pulling these in an attempt to keep them in check.
Next are the ones that looked great in the summer, but are not earning their winter keep. Emerald Isle Spikemoss, planted last September so I don’t know if this is normal or if it’s not happy. It was a lush green mound before winter.
Corsican Mint, or Mentha requienii. Where? Good question. This plant was evergreen it’s first winter but not this year (or last year actually). I have no doubt it will come back. And so will the grass too if I don’t get busy and pull those pesky little tufts soon!And the constant thorn in my side, Bishops Weed. What a hideous mess. Gooey gross. Once we have a couple of dry days in a row (and I can get down on my knees again) it will lift right up like dry Elmer’s glue, but for now it’s UGLY.
I had to throw in a couple variations on the ground cover theme…lawn (or in my case lawn mixed with moss would be a better description), once (and maybe still) America’s favorite ground cover.
Moss, I love how it’s grown right over the yucca leaf! I need more moss.
And the easiest ground cover of all that looks great year round…


  1. Wow, what a variety! Sorry you have some evil invaders, I hope they don't get out of control. I have heard that about Sweet Woodruff too, so have avoided it, but glad it is behaving in your place so far. That variegated saxifrage is so lovely, I saw and photo-ed it in a parking strip last week but didn't know what it was. I need it! Aren't sedums grand? They look so delicate, but are so amazingly tough. Your plant swap story is hilarious. Maybe more people will show up this year, the economy being what it is!

  2. Great post! This extensive list is very helpful!

  3. I love all of your groundcovers, but had to smile at the Sedum 'Spokane' - it looks so interesting. I laugh at your references to uncle and his family live there and although I do love to visit in the summer - I am glad I don't live there....the winters are too cold for me ;^)

  4. You have a really wonderful selection of ground covers. I love that chocolatey looking echeveria tucked in among other succulents.

  5. there is a whole foothill nearby which once had a cemetery on top, vinca minor your vinca vine was once called cemetery ivy and planted there
    to provide low maintenance ground cover and prevent shrubs,which it has done so well , the whole hill is silver as snow in the sunset
    'such a lovely sight,too bad it is so invasive.

  6. LOL, love how you ended the post. Yes, the pebbles are great :). I love the sedums and the semps...

  7. Karen, you do need the variegated saxifrage, it's fabulous! Your right Sedum (and Sempervivum) are so tough and yet look delicate!

    How it Grows, yea! Glad to hear it!

    Noelle, I agree too cold for me and too cold for my plants! I have a Phoenix living brother who grew up in Spokane...he's been spoiled and will never be able to leave AZ!

    Pam, thanks! And actually the one you mention is a Sempervivum...only worth mentioning because that means it is much much more hardy than an echeveria would be!

    J.J., paint a very pretty picture...and now I am going to call it cemetery ivy too!

    Evelyn, pebbles never have to be watered!

  8. The sempervivums always look to me like something one would find in a tide pool. I, too, keep collecting them and losing track of their lineage.


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