NEIGHBORHOOD GARDEN FOR AUGUST 6, 2005
BY GLADYS JEURINK
There are many
places some plants won’t fit. They are too tall, need too much sun,
use too much water, or interfere with other garden objects. This is
where ground covers fit in. It
has always been my idea that they had to be short. But I have noticed
covers advertised that grow several feet high. So it may be a special
plant that fits a special place.
For shade, I
have mentioned “Snow on the Mountain” (Aegopodium
podagraria) as an aggressive variegated plant that finds room for
its roots most anywhere. I
don’t like digging into tree roots as they have enough problems with
diseases, drouth, and insects. “Vinca
Minor” (also called “Common Periwinkle” or “Creeping Myrtle”)
is one of the most used covers I have noticed in Lincoln.
It will grow in sun but does much better in moist, shady, soil
with lots of organic material. It
never gets more than six inches high with dainty blue blooms in spring.
Small bulbs that bloom early do well coming up through the vine
that roots as it spreads.
“Lily of the
Valley” (Convallaria majalis)
is a dainty looking plant about eight inches high.
Each plant has only 2 leaves but spreads from underground stems
rapidly in damp, light shade but will survive in very heavy shade.
They have pink or white blossoms quite often found in wedding
reptans known as “Bugleweed” or “Carpet Bugle” does well in
shade some years and in others disappears during the winter.
There are several color variations in leaves and a thick carpet
will be blue, red, or purple with blooms in early spring.
“Creeping Speedwell” (Veronica repens) is my favorite, never over 4 inches high and solid
blue with tiny blossoms in spring. With shallow roots it needs to be
watered regularly. Plant miniature “Daffodils” underneath for a neat
spring show. Because it can
take heat so well, I have “Dwarf Barberry” in one spot of the
parkway. It is reddish purple all year round. It does have thorns so use
caution where it is planted.
“Rose” bushes, as a cover for their bare stems, I have “Moss
Roses” (Portulaca grandiflora).
They don’t bloom vigorously until after the middle of June when the
roses are resting from their earlier show. Also called “Purslane”
(same family as that weed that tries to cover everything) they come in
all colors, singles, and doubles and they produce hundreds of seeds so
they are always there. My bed is 80 feet long and 2 ½ feet wide and
they bloom for weeks. The
flowers do not open on a cloudy day. With good drainage and heat, they
create a riot of color up to 12 inches high.
A few years ago
I bought 3 small pots of “Sweet Woodruff” (Asperila
odorato) and put it in a slightly sunny spot.
It lived but didn’t do much and did not produce very many of
its little white flowers. Last year I moved it under a ‘Redbud” tree
after I read it liked shady, moist soil and now it’s trying to cover
up its less vigorous neighbors. One book I have says it’s used in
noticed a small “Strawberry” plant with a bright pink blossom so I
found three and planted them in a sunny spot near some shrubs. They
immediately exploded!!! They do have berries about the size of my little
fingernail but not many. And they do have runners and more runners. Last
fall I tried to pull up most of them as they went under the bushes,
covered my gravel path and went back into the shade to try to cover the
“Jack In The Pulpit”. This summer everything is covered again. I do
love that pink so I will need to find some corner where I can put them
have asked me about the short yellow flower growing along the edges of
roads, ignoring the drought. In good soil they can become weeds, so you
can plant them in your poorest, driest places. This is called
“Birds-foot Trefoil” (Lotus
corniculatus) as the seed pods open in a claw-like shape.
You can find seeds in the nurseries or start cuttings in the
spring. You may have
noticed they survive mowing.