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This evergreen, rhizomatous, perennial grass has an upright habit, with bamboo-like foliage to 14 inches tall. Flat, linear leaves are sometimes striped yellow. Pale green spikelets turn buff with age.
'Procumbens' is similar to 'Pendula' in color but prostrate in habit, with cascading branches sometimes staying stiffly horizontal. Makes a spreading, undulating, mounding ground cover of silvery white needles.
This North American native bears light blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring to early summer. It has a lax, sprawling habit to 1.5 feet tall. The leaflets are arranged like the rungs of a ladder, hence the common name.
This variegated cultivar offers white-edged leaves with pink tints on a compact plant to 1.5 feet tall. It bears light lavender-blue bell-shaped blossoms in spring.
A native fern with triangular-shaped, stiff, upright fronds that can tolerate dry soil and full sun. Bracken can make very large colonies and are found in a variety of habitats ranging from dry and wet forests to meadows and bogs. They grow up to 4.5 feet tall.
This vigorous shrub hugs the ground (to 2 feet tall) and spreads out to 8 feet, making it an excellent choice for stablizing a bank or smothering weeds. It has small yellow flowers, hairy red fruits, and glossy leaves that change to gorgeous orange-red in autumn.
Each bush is covered in a masses of scarlet red blooms from late spring thru fall. One of the new Next Generation Flower Carpet roses with improved heat and humidity tolerance and disease resistance.
This woody-stemmed perennial produces sticky spikes of deep violet or, rarely, white to pink flowers. It blooms from early summer to autumn; reblooming is most reliable if spent flowers are deadheaded promptly. It has wrinkled leaves and forms an upright clump 3 feet tall by 1 foot wide. This salvia is most noted for its many hybirds with S. nemerosa.
This tough, drought-tolerant species has glossy deep green leaves and, in early summer, half-inch golden yellow flowers that open from pink buds. It grows to about 6 inches tall and a little wider and makes a good groundcover.
This variety is more compact than the species, and its leaves are variegated with creamy margins. In late spring to summer, its star-shaped yellow flowers open from pink buds and mature to crimson. It grows to just 4 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
This is one of the smallest species of goldenrod, topping out at only 4 to 6 inches high in poor soils, and 2 feet high in fertile soils. It is considered a garden-worthy species, with gray-green leaves that form clumps and languid, one-sided yellow plumes. It is tolerant of both sandy and clay soils.
This decidous, thicket-forming shrub has attractive wavy-margined leaves that resemble maple leaves and have good orange-yellow fall color. Cutleaf stephanandra grows to less than 2 feet tall but spreads by suckering. Flowers are unremarkable at a distance, but attractive close-up. In winter, the rich brown, arching shoots draw the eye.
Chenault coralberry is an undemanding workhorse. This 2-foot-tall shrub spreads about 10 feet without causing any trouble. It does an excellent job of covering ground and smothering weeds while eliminating erosion. In late summer, small pink flowers appear and are followed by rosy red fruit.
This prolific cultivar has dark green foliage and bears nodding blue flowers from mauve buds. It grows to a compact height of 18 inches tall. It may become invasive and difficult to eradicate once established.
This named variety of the species has soft sulfur-yellow flowers up to 3 inches across. The spring blossoms sit 4-6 inches high, surrounded by wavy-edged, gray-green foliage that reaches 8-10 inches tall. Species tulips prefer sharp drainage and plenty of room to grow. Most do well in rock gardens, small displays, and containers.
This species tulip blooms in mid- to late spring with fire-engine-red flowers that look like open, pointed stars with purple centers. It reaches 4-6 inches tall and not quite as wide. Species tulips prefer sharp drainage and plenty of room to grow; they will often naturalize. Most do well in rock gardens, small displays, and containers.
This fine Veronica was the Perennial Plant of the Year in 1993. From early summer to frost this upright cultivar forms branched spikes (to 7 inches long) of dark violet-blue flowers. It has glossy and crinkled dark green leaves, and grows to less than 2 feet tall. It is a fine choice for adding long-season color to a mixed border.
Like other creeping myrtles, 'Illumination' is a tough evergreen ground cover for shade that will grow in almost any soil. Its hallmark is its bright gold leaves that are edged with a border of irregular green. Periwinkle-blue flowers appear in spring. Use 'Illumination' as a shade ground cover or in hanging baskets. -Tom Nelson, Regional Picks: Northern California, Fine Gardening issue #127
Creeping myrtle is a fast-spreading, 4- to 8-inch-tall, evergreen groundcover with shiny green leaves borne in pairs on long, arching stems. Star-like, 1-inch-wide blue flowers bloom for one month in spring. Cultivars include 'Bowles,' which blooms sporadically throughout the growing season, and variegated vinca, with creamy white-and-green leaves.
A hardworking, compact perennial, ‘Etain’ violet forms well-behaved clumps and blooms from time to time from spring through fall. The attractive, fleshy, bright green foliage needs protection from slugs. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
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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