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This is a fine plant for cascading over the edge of a wall. It's a hardy, prostrate shrub with intricate branching that often forms mats up to 3 feet wide, by runners. Fragrant, white bell-shaped flowers tinged with pink are borne in May and followed later in the season by red berries. The common bearberry's stunning red stems are studded with small, glossy, evergreen leaves.
Lily of the valley's bell-shaped, sweetly scented flowers bloom in early spring. It likes partial to full shade and is perfect for a woodland garden. It may not be the best choice for your beds and borders because it tends to spread, but it is a perfect ground cover if you have a large shady spot under some trees.
This fern's lacy foliage smells of freshly mown grass and carpets the woodland or a moist, partially sunny site. The green lushness turns golden in the fall. It is a good choice for rapid naturalizing. Use in a woodland garden or near water features.
Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' is a stunning, wide-spreading ground cover with grassy, blue-green foliage and pink flowers. Use it to edge a bed or grow it in your rock garden for a splash of cool color. To keep its blooms going, be sure to deadhead.
This compact species forms broad mats of blue-gray linear leaves and is perfect for a rock garden setting. The purplish-pink flowers are solitary, toothed, and deliciously fragrant.
Silvery-blue mats of evergreen, linear foliage. Well-known and loved for the showy, profuse, single, magenta blooms, spring-fall. 'Firewitch' exudes the spicy scent of cloves. Very hardy; good performer. Moderate to fast grower. Heat resistant and tolerant of humidity. Excellent for use in containers, as an edger, in rock gardens, scented gardens and the front of the border. If cut back, they often rebloom in early fall. Considered deer resistant once established. Attracts butterflies! Very suitable for gardens in the South. -Santa Rosa Gardens
Thick rhizomes and stout, sprawling stems guarantee this hardy geranium survivor status. It forms dense mats of foliage in no time, making a perfect large-scale groundcover. The foliage is aromatic, particularly when touched, and transforms to red in fall. The magenta-pink flowers are conspicuously veined. 'Bevan's Variety' grows to slightly more than a foot tall with indefinite spread.
'Froufrou' gets its name from its small, ruffled yellow petals.
This pale-yellow-flowered daylily distinguishes itself with its profuse bloom and compact size (only 16 inches tall), making it good for containers and the borders. It is an early season bloomer with circular flowers that open in late afternoon and last through the night.
This daylily has cheerful, ruffly yellow-orange flowers.
Hemerocallis 'Mini Pearl'
This is a lovely yellow-pink (some say apricot) daylily.
This daylily has large, pale creamy pink flowers.
This vigorous vine quickly reaches 20 feet tall and thrives on neglect. The greenish yellow, conelike flowers smell like beer. It can scramble along the ground or grow up screens and trellises.
This elegant fern-like herb has a mounding form and anise-flavored bright-green leaves. In late spring, it bears compound umbels of star-shaped white flowers, followed by shiny, ridged brown seeds.
This Division 10 Bulbocodium species blooms late in the season, bearing up to 5 fragrant and nodding golden-yellow flowers. It has cylindrical, dark-green stems to 12 inches. It is good for naturalizing, and prefers neutral to alkaline soil.
This cultivar is a clump-forming perennial with toothed gray-green leaves and larger flowers than the hybrid. It flowers profusely and long, especially if sheared. The blue-purple flowers are small but abundant, and the foliage is aromatic.
This is a very fragrant native woodland phlox with powder-blue flowers in spring. Reaching only 1 foot tall, it can spread to almost 2 feet and makes an attractive groundcover under shrubs or planted with other spring-blooming wildflowers. Leaves are semi-evergreen and hairy; stems root along their length. The blue flowers are salverform with petal lobes. This plant attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
This spreading, semi-evergreen perennial has hairy leaves and lavender-blue to pale violet and white flowers borne in open clusters in early spring. Flowers can have notched or unnotched petal lobes. Cultivars include ‘Clouds of Perfume’ with light lavender-blue flowers; ‘Eco Texas Purple’ (dark purple with a violet eye); ‘Fuller’s White’ (white); and ‘London Grove’ (lavender-blue flowers).
From late spring to early summer, this species bears pendent, green-tipped white flowers along arching stems. These mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns yellow.
Gracefully arching 2 to 3-foot tall burgundy stems support narrow leaves streaked in pure white. From late spring to early summer, this species bears white flowers that mature into spherical black fruit in autumn, when the foliage turns a golden yellow. Variegated Solomon's seal is a fine choice for a shady bed. -Matt Griswold, Regional Picks: Northeast, Fine Gardening issue #27
Q&A Ground covers for dry shade
by Barbara Ashmun
Moss Makes a Lush Carpet
This easy-to-tend ground cover forms the foundation of a sculpted woodland retreat
by Jeff Osser
Conifers for Shade
Yes, you can grow evergreen trees and shrubs in shade. Who knew?
by Christine Froehlich
10 Combinations for Shade
The secret is in using color to pump up the interest in low-light spots
by Inta Krombolz
Bringing Sun and Shade Together
Show off what these extremes have to offer, then unite them with some common ground
by Dan Johnson
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