Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Let's look at some groundcovers...

I started collecting images for this post back in June, then I forgot about them—which is sad, because I love groundcovers!

Observant readers may recognize these first few images as coming from Megan and Mike's garden which I wrote about in July (here). Their use of groundcovers was masterful. Above and below is Soleirolia soleirolii, aka baby’s tears. This plant is typically said to be evergreen above Zone 9, and dying back to the ground and reappearing in Zone 9. I've never thought of using it because of that, Zone 9 meaning that in a typical winter I could lose it, but maybe it's worth experimenting with, since it looks so good here.

In the same garden this pathway is covered with Leptinella squalida...

Of course nobody said a ground cover has to be flat. Here you've got several perrenials acting as ground cover including black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens'), Onoclea sensibilis, (sensitive fern) and what I think is Pyrrosia lingua.

In my own garden I'm happy to say there are a few patches of black mondo that have become worthy of the label groundcover. Here a few blades are reverting to green...a better gardener would have taken the time to pull those out.

Here I'm trying to get a mash-up of saxifraga, sempervivum and sedum to grow together and cover the ground at the base of a palm (Trachycarpus wagneriensis). Unfortunately the squirrels keep pulling pieces out which is kinda messing with my plan.

Ditto over here...

Here cape blanco sedum was filling in nicely until said squirrels went on a bit of a rampage, they can't so easily mess with the saxifrage (on the left) however.

Speaking of saxifraga, this S. x urbium 'Primuloides' patch makes me so happy.

Especially because it can support itself growing where there is absolutely no soil for it to grow in, like here on concrete...

Of course there will never be a groundcover as perfect as moss.

Although Adiantum venustum comes close!

Here's an interesting collection of things, I believe the short green grass is Ophiopogon japonicus 'nanus', a dwarf mondo.

I wish I could remember the name of the saxifraga in the two green mounds closest to the grey bricks. I can tell you the sort of mossy looking bit on the far right is a spikemoss, Selaginella kraussiana 'Aurea'.

That same spikemoss is growing here, at the base of a trio of bromeliads that I need to remember to pull before winter.

I love this stuff, although it appears to have a mind of it's own and only becomes established where it wants to, rather than where you think it should.

This final image suffers from a ridiculously bright day, which does the groundcover I want to share a huge disservice, because usually it looks so lush. Acaena inermis ‘Purpurea’ thrives in this neighbor's garden, and I could not be more jealous. I've yet to find a spot in mine where it can be happy. So, what's your favorite groundcover?

Weather Diary, Sept 28: Hi 85, Low 52/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2020 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. Groundcovers are the unsung heroes of the garden. In the PNW you have a great selection to choose from. Love how the bright greens pop amongst the darker ones in your garden. My favourites here are the sedums as they are super tough, tolerating long cold winters and hot dry summers. Lots of textures and colours to choose from too.

    1. Sedums are wonderful, reading your comment I realized I forgot to take a photo of the sedum in my front garden that hitched a ride from my previous garden in Spokane. It's spread marvelously.

  2. Lovely photos with great ideas. Back in the day of living in an eastern location, we grew Sweet Woodruff as a ground cover. Miss it.

    1. Oh! Yes, I used to have that one. I'm probably the only gardener who can say it disappeared, that plant has a reputation as being a thug.

  3. Your photos are all drool-worthy. I've always loved the groundcovers that grow in wetter areas than mine - I haven't even been able to establish Ajuga in my shade house, much less baby tears. Creeping thyme, especially the low-growing types like 'Minus' and 'Elfin', are the groundcovers I use most frequently. The mondo grass in my "bromeliad garden" is struggling. Lippia (Phyla nodiflora) works well here but it dies back during winter. Liriope spicata does a good job at covering ground but it's so difficult to manage I'm planning to pull mine out.

    1. One of the ground covers you can grow that I cannot is blue chalk sticks, Senecio mandraliscae or Senecio serpens, I would love to have a river of that running through my garden.

  4. I had to revisit both posts of Megan and Mike's fabulous garden: it's just as good the second time around!
    When it comes to ground covers, we have quite a few plants in common: many sedum, including cape blanco, many saxifrage, including a huge matt of 'Primuloides', black mondo grass (slow to spread, but patience is a virtue), Baby's tears which sometimes go where it isn't wanted. Occasionally, a plant that runs rampant in one part of the garden ends up well behaved in another; there are on going evaluations of my ground covers.
    I love the plant collage at base of a palm.

    1. So you've had success with baby's tears? Perhaps I need to give it a try.

  5. So many pretty ones with great textures. Wish we had as much choice, but all the same, I'd have a hard time picking a favorite. I do love a mixed carpet of various sedum and sempervivum (like yours), as well as dead nettle, adiantum and my non-blooming 'Silver Carpet' lamb's ears.

  6. There's a street planter in Belltown with a thriving mat of baby's tears for the last 5+ years. I haven't tried it myself but should.

  7. I first saw Black Mondo Grass at Bloedel in 2000. I've lusted for it ever since. Luckily I am having good luck with Adiantum venustum which makes up the the things I can't grow. You have some gems there.


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