Posts filed under Groundcover

Masses Of Bloom

What is more inviting in a garden than a mass of flowers?  Creeping phlox, also called moss phlox or ground phlox (Phlox subulata) if you prefer, certainly delivers on this attribute!  Spring brings a carpet of jostling blooms in choices of mauve, pink, white and bi-colour.  The swath of pastels reveals dainty, notched-petal blossoms on closer inspection.  The evergreen foliage grows in a dense mat, with next year’s buds starting to form soon after the blooms finish.  Creeping phlox nestles well into rock gardens, or as an easy care ground cover in a sunny perennial bed. 

Technical stuff – Creeping phlox/Phlox subulata, perennial hardy to zone 3, height of 4”-6” and spread of up to 24”, full to part sun, prefers well drained soil but will tolerate poor soil and is drought resistant, blooms May into June.     

Posted on June 5, 2015 and filed under Groundcover, Perennials.

The Dark Side

This post is more of a warning than the usual celebration of a plant.  Aegopodium variegatum, alias goutweed, bishop’s weed, snow on the mountain or ground elder, has refreshing green and white foliage that can be inviting without knowing its dark side.  This is one of the most invasive plants I have dealt with in my garden.  I inherited several pre-existing beds, of which all but one has been dug up and removed – and yes, where wee bits of root were left in the ground, goutweed returned.  The single purpose I have found for goutweed is to fill a confined troubled area – a steep bank, an isolated strip along concrete, a dry shade bed under a tree – with the caveat that it must be contained, with definite barriers to stop its constant aggressive ability to advance and bully.  Please do not plant goutweed in a mixed perennial bed!  Goutweed spreads by rhizomes, which are fleshy underground roots that shoot up new plants.  The creamy green foliage with snowy edges and lacy white summer blooms can be tempting, especially since goutweed thrives on neglect.  But beware the bedraggled, seemingly fragile, green and white plant, with any of these common names, at the greenhouse.  When I see an unsuspecting customer picking it up, I am incapable of not offering a warning!         

Technical stuff – Goutweed/Aegopodium variegatum, hardy perennial to zone 3, height of about 8-10” with bloom stems up to 18”, spreads forever, full sun to full shade, survives poor soil, drought tolerant, white blooms in summer.    

Posted on February 23, 2015 and filed under Groundcover, Perennials.

Dainty Faces

Veronica is such a great name for a flower!   Known commonly as creeping speedwell, this Veronica repens is the ground cover version of veronica.  It grows to form a lively green carpet that sparkles with a smattering of blue-purple flowers late spring into summer.  Veronica also comes in white or pink bloomers, but I adore the purple.   I use it in the garden as an edging, a filler, a cover for bulbs – it makes a delicious combo with the silver gray of lamb’s ears, or mixes well with assorted ground sedums in a rock garden.   When the blooms first open, they are often a captivating deep sky blue, and as their dainty faces soak up the sun, they fade to purple then lilac.

Technical stuff – Creeping speedwell/Veronica repens, hardy perennial to zone 3, height of 4-6” and spread of up to 18”, prefers full sun but tolerates part sun too, blooms late spring to summer.

Posted on February 20, 2015 and filed under Perennials, Groundcover.

Just Sprouting

Sweet woodruff is just sprouting in my shade garden.  It will grow into a thick carpet of dark green pointy leaves with starry white flowers.   For such a small plant it has great detail.  The mini splays of lance shaped leaves grow in whorls.  The tiny, four petal fairy flowers are impactful when sprinkled liberally over their green foliage.  Sweet woodruff’s fragrance is reputed as ‘fresh mown hay’; to me it just smells green and fresh.  This perennial is a top notch ground cover under shrubs or amongst hostas.  The low growing, sprawling habit intermingles wonderfully with other perennials in part shade or shade.   Sweet woodruff does spread easily, but its shallow roots make it easy to transplant or pull back.  It does not choke out other perennials, rather it skips along to fill in gaps, all the while helping to ward off weeds.  In a small garden, sweet woodruff may be too aggressive unless it is constrained by rocks or other plants.  My favourite application is under-planting spring bloomers like bulbs, columbine or bleeding heart – the speckling of dainty white flowers is the perfect backdrop for colourful blooms, and later covers browning bulb foliage.  

Technical stuff – Sweet woodruff/gallium odoratum, hardy perennial to Zone 4, height of 4”-8”, indefinite spread (can be aggressive), part shade to shade, blooms late spring into summer.

Posted on May 3, 2014 and filed under Perennials, Groundcover.

Shade Bloomer

Lively, puckered blooms like mini snap dragons cascade over rocks onto the dry creek bed, or skirt around weigela to complete the garden scene. I have found multiple purposes for easy care, creeping lamium: a filler plant to brighten part shade or shade gardens, a ground cover especially amongst shrubs or trees, and I use it in containers. Once lamium has served the season in a container, I transplant it into the garden and get double bang for the buck - mixed with coral bells and lady's mantle, you have a super easy part shade garden. Typically lamium offers a lavish show of bloom in mid to late spring, with a continued sprinkling of blooms the rest of the season. Sheering back mid-season can provide a second wave of bloom and fresh foliage. Flower choices include white, yellow, pale to deep pink and purple. And foliage options are silvery green, variegated green, yellow green or spotted green. Lamium’s sprawling form is part of what makes it a good filler plant, however it can be over-vigorous in good soil and sun. It is easy to pull out but why make work. This aggressive tendency has some gardeners avoid lamium, but in the proper setting, it can be attractive and useful. False lamium or ‘yellow archangel’, is not aggressive and offers an orderly clump with sharply variegated leaves and yellow blooms. My favourites of the creeping varieties are the common ‘white nancy’ (silvery leaves with white blooms), ‘aureum’ (yellow green leaves), and ‘beacon silver’ (silver leaves and purple blooms).

Technical stuff – Dead nettle/lamium, hardy perennial to Zone 3, most have height of 6”-8” (some to 12”) and spread of 12”-24”, most bloom mid-spring with some continued bloom through season, part shade to shade, happy in most soils, can be aggressive spreader in richer soil and more sun.

Posted on April 4, 2014 and filed under Groundcover, Perennials.


I always keep my eye out for colourful shade bloomers, and bugleweed is well up to this definition! If you have a part shade, dampish spot that needs ground cover, with the delightful bonus of blue spring flowers, bugleweed is a wonderful option. Amongst the cultivars, glossy creeping foliage can range from purple-black, to deep green or burgundy, with pink, bronze or ruby highlights. My favourite varieties are ‘burgundy glow’, ‘giant’, ‘multicolour’ and the variegated ‘vanilla chip’. All varieties have little spires of blue-purple blooms in spring. Bugleweed will prosper in most conditions with good drainage. This perennial is actually a native European weed, and thus is can be an aggressive spreader, especially in its preferred moist soil, part shade conditions. However, I have spots of clay in my garden, and bugleweed can all but disappear over a season in this unfavoured soil. It serves well as an edge in a shade garden, or a patch of easy-care colour in a part shade rock garden.

Technical stuff – Bugleweed/ajuga, hardy perennial to zones 3, height of 4"-6”, spread of 18”+, full sun to shade preferring part shade, likes moist soil and good drainage (can be aggressive in happy conditions), blooms in spring.

Posted on February 21, 2014 and filed under Groundcover, Perennials.

Garden Staple

Some perennials are stars of the show, and others are team players that carry more than their share of the workload. Ground cover sedums are a team player, and a staple in my garden. They prefer full sun and good drainage, but will survive in just about any soil or part sun. They are a no-maintenance plant that performs year after year. A super easy approach to a dry, sunny patch of garden is a collection of rugged rocks with a collection of ground cover sedum – instant attractive rock garden. I have many favourite varieties: dragon’s blood, tricolor, vera jameson, angelina, voo doo, acre, cherry tart...the list is long and I discover new varieties each year. This is a collection perennial in my garden, and I love to mix & match the different varieties. Most bloom in spring or summer, and spread at a moderate rate. Angelina can be aggressive (though I am always happy to have extras pop up here and there!), but makes up for it with vivid lime spring and summer colour that fades to orange auburn in the fall. Several varieties, like vera jameson or dragon’s blood, offer maroon or purple, and kamtschaticum is bright green with sunny yellow blooms. Acre has detailed leaves with burgundy stems and golden blossoms. You can see why they are easy to collect!

Technical stuff – Sedum, hardy perennial, ground cover varieties are 2” to 6”, with most at 4” in height, spread of 12” to 18”/24” or indefinitely, prefer full sun and good drainage, most bloom spring/summer.

Posted on February 18, 2014 and filed under Groundcover, Perennials, Staple perennial.