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Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
This plant has lobed, densely hairy, chartreuse foliage that is crimped at the edges. Soft, frothy, yellow-green foliage hovers above the plant from early summer through autumn.
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.
This is a short-growing aster with lilac-blue flowers and creeping rootstocks. Many cultivars exist. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
This is a short-growing aster has creeping rootstocks and pink, daisy-like flowers with yellow centers. It can be used on steep slopes for erosion control.
Serbian bellflowers have an easy, undemanding habit. Creating a stream of lavender blue, the 1-inch-diameter star-shaped blossoms bloom reliably from late spring to early fall. The foliage remains evergreen in mild winters and needs to be sheared only once in a while to keep its appearance tidy. 'Blue Waterfall' flows beautifully along bed edges and through rock gardens in full sun to partial shade.
This sedge is one of the most adaptable of the ground-cover grasses. Its ability to look the same in sun or shade makes it a valuable asset in plantings that go in and out of full sun. Berkeley sedge is a good solution for areas under stress where lawn grasses often fail. The flowers are not particularly noteworthy.
This vigorous climber can easily cover a support of 8 to 10 feet tall once established. Finely textured, dense light-green foliage makes an excellent foil for dainty, pink and carmine teardrop-shaped flowers 2 inches across. Blooms appear in early August and continue well into autumn.
Large golden-yellow blossoms are borne in late spring and midsummer on top of stems reaching almost 3 feet high. Native to the southeastern U.S.
Solitary yellow petals with toothed edges and flat, yellow centers open from early to late summer. Native to the central and southern U.S.
This plant bears a profusion of lavender-pink flowers with yellow centers from mid-summer to early autumn. This perennial has finely textured leaves that give it an airy appearance.
'Moonbeam' produces star-like blossoms of pale yellow from late spring into autumn. This cultivar is widely used because the refreshing tint of yellow compliments so many colors. The finely textured foliage adds interest all season long.
'Zagreb' produces star-like blossoms in egg-yolk yellow in early summer on plants 12 inches tall and wide. The sturdy, upright stems and finely textured foliage add delicate texture to the garden.
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.
This eastern U.S. woodland plant has clusters of small, fluffy white flowers topping stiff 3- to 5-foot-tall stems midsummer to frost.
This hybrid has petite green-and-cream variegated foliage with a hint of pink on the undersides. It produces chartreuse and apple green bicolored bracts on airy stems.
'Fireglow' bears conspicuous bracts in vivid orange-fuchsia in early summer. It has red stems and dark green leaves, which emerge in spring with a reddish tinge.
Electric yellow bracts bloom on a low cushion in April and persist, but gently fade as the stems elongate to form a 16-inch mound by midsummer. The leaves produce shades of red, orange, and purple in autumn.
This sturdy groundcover is fast becoming one of the most dependable grasses for creating drought-tolerant meadows. Clumping evergreen foliage is a rich khaki green and grows in an arching clump. The flowers, while noticeable, are not showy. Atlas fescue is at its best in groups and grows in all but hot, humid, and low desert climates.
The large blooms of this perennial are a spectacular violet-blue with a white throat and darker venation on plants 1 to 2 feet tall and wide. The attractive foliage weaves itself through neighboring plants. Grow in borders, containers, or rock or cottage gardens. 'Rozanne' is most effective en masse.
Q&A Ground covers to avoid
by Nancy Ondra
Planting Ground Covers
Proper spacing and regular care are the best ways to create a lush, weed-free carpet
by Mary Hirshfeld
Flowering Ground Covers
To blanket an area small or large, these are the perennials to pick
by Nancy Ondra
Dividing a ground cover
by Liana Mackey
Plants for Pathways
These durable creeping perennials discourage weeds and soften the look of a walkway
by Marty Wingate
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