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One look at ‘Texas Scarlet’ flowering quince in bloom and most gardeners are instantly sold. Though the display only lasts a week or two in early spring, the sight of the tomato-red flowers is unforgettable. During the rest of the season, ‘Texas Scarlet’ remains a wave of glossy green leaves that reaches 2 to 3 feet tall in the toughest of conditions.
This species has tiers of lacy foliage that form broad clumps, 3 feet high by 3 feet wide. Its hot pink flowers bloom from May to July.
This compact, low-growing, and self-rooting deciduous shrub is useful as an underplanting or ground cover. Its shiny dense foliage turns a brilliant red in the fall and requires little or no pruning.
This deciduous shrub has a spreading habit and branches that form a herringbone pattern. Its glossy, dark green leaves turn red in autumn.White flowers tinged with pink appear in late spring and mature to bright red, round fruit.
This compact variety performs well as a groundcover and is an excellent choice for the mixed border or rock garden.
This dramatic fern diplays 4-foot-tall arching fronds that form impressive clumps with age. It is a hybrid of two native ferns and makes a wonderful groundcover.
This is a handsome and lush, semi-evergreen vase-shaped fern with thickly textured leaves that is suitable for specimen treatment. It reaches 3.5 feet tall. Grow in a woodland or moist shade garden.
Perfectly round, puckered, bright-gold leaves have a pattern resembling seersucker fabric. Pale-lavender flowers appear in early summer.
'Blue Angel' makes a very large tiered mound of heavily textured blue leaves that can be as wide as 18 in. in diameter.
This upright selection reaches 24 inches tall and 44 to 48 inches wide. 'Fort Knox' has an elegant vase-shaped habit and radiant yellowish-gold leaves 10 inches long by 6 inches wide. Lavender flowers appear in midsummer.
A robust, clump-forming perennial, 'Piedmont Gold' has prominently veined, wavy-margined, bright-gold leaves 10 inches long by 7 inches wide. It reaches an average height of 18 to 25 inches tall and 40 inches wide. White flowers on 26-inch stems appear in midsummer.
'Elegans' is a large hosta with deep, smoky blue, slightly frosted heart-shaped foliage. Deep veins give the leaves a corrugated look. White flowers bloom in early spring. Though slugs love hostas, this one is usually spared. -Sue Whetten, Regional Picks: Rocky Mountains, Fine Gardening issue #127
This spreading, low-growing shrub has attractive bluish-green foliage and unusual upturned branches that create the appearance of a miniature blue forest. The mature size is 10 inches tall, with a spread that can reach 4 feet wide.
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 species produces 2- to 5-foot-tall mounds of narrow green foliage and bottle brush-like silvery-pink to purple flowers, both of which mature to shades of brown. It is the parent of numerous cultivars with notable flowers that range from purple to gray/black. It and some of its cultivars self-sow plentifully in warm climates. It is marginally hardy in Zone 5.
This vigorous, but noninvasive perennial flowers from early summer into autumn with bright red, purple, or white blossoms. The narrow blossoms are up to 4 inches long, and are held on long stalks above pointed, slightly puckered leaves. It grows to 4 feet high and wide.
This vigorous but noninvasive perennial flowers from early summer into autumn with crimson blossoms to 6 inches long. Its leaves are dark green, arrow-shaped, and slightly puckered. It grows to 4 feet high and wide.
Western sword ferns abound in the forests of the Northwestern U.S. They are robust, reliable, and virtually maintenance-free. They put up with difficult soil and manage to keep up appearances even in hot, dry weather. Their deep green, leathery fronds are attractive year-round.
This species has palmate, wrinkled leaves that extend to 2 feet wide. The veins and leaf stalks are reddish-brown and densely woolly. In midsummer, the 2-foot-long, upright flower spikes are made up of white or pink florets.
This species creates tropical drama with its large, toothed leaves and ivory-green, footlong flowers. It exhibits reddish-bronze color in autumn.
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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