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In spring, the foliage of this petite species emerges a deep purple-black-green and is topped by white blooms with rippled petals. As plants mature, the foliage becomes medium green, and the flowers turn pink, then lavender-purple. Dwarf wakerobin grows to only 8 inches tall and readily forms colonies.
This is one of the first and most plentiful Trilliums to bloom in the spring. It has upright maroon blossoms (occasionally white or yellow) without stalks, and its leaves can be nicely mottled. It grows to 12-18 inches tall and 8-12 inches wide.
This striking spring-blooming species features narrow, chocolate-colored petals that twist like a propeller over slightly mottled leaves. It forms a stocky plant, growing to 10-15 inches tall and not quite as wide.
This trillium bears the largest flowers in the genus—almost 4 inches across. Growing to almost 2 feet high and not quite as wide, it is also one of the tallest trilliums. Its chocolate-red blossoms (occasionally white) boast strongly curved petals and prominent stamens. They appear just beneath the leaves in mid- to late spring.
This annual or perennial climber grows vigorously, yet does not strangle its host. Its edible leaves are deeply divided like the fingers of a hand, and its bright yellow flowers are outrageously formed: The larger, upper petals are deeply fringed and look like tiny birds' wings; the smaller, lower petals are spurred. It blooms in summer and autumn and can climb up to 12 feet.
This tender perennial climber has edible, hand-shaped leaves and crimson red flowers in summer and fall which are uniquely textured. Their softly squared petals are held apart from each other at the flower's mouth and the rear tapers to long spurs. The blooms yield blue fruits. Flame nasturtium climbs up to 10 feet.
This attractive, easy-care, 6- to 8-inch semi-evergreen groundcover boasts leaves that emerge bright green, then darken with age, creating a two-toned effect. In mid- to late spring, distinctive white blooms dangle on wiry stems, resembling an umbrella blown inside-out by a sudden gust of wind. The flower's stamens jut forward like a beak.
This low-growing perennial produces long-lasting light pink blossoms with dark pink centers. It is an heirloom cultivar of the native species. Verbenas are excellent for annual borders, containers—especially hanging baskets—and some for the mixed herbaceous border.
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.
This dense, mat-forming species has 3-inch-tall evergreen foliage with toothed gray leaves. Its saucer-shaped flowers are deep blue with white eyes, and they bloom from early spring to summer. It is drought tolerant and makes a good groundcover. In garden sites, it needs protection from winter moisture.
'Georgia Blue' forms beautiful mats of purple-tinged leaves. In spring, this free-flowering groundcover boasts abundant iridescent blue flowers. It grows to about 9 inches high and a foot wide. It is a vigorous and easy-to-grow cultivar.
This tough, versatile plant requires little maintenance. 'Georgia Blue' is willing to grow in sunny or shady spots, puts up with excessive rain or drought conditions, and attracts butterflies with a low blanket of sky blue flowers from spring into summer. Small, dark green leaves turn glossy burgundy in winter. Use it in containers or rock walls, or as a companion groundcover to spring bulbs under trees.
Great for brightening up a shady spot, this ground-hugging, evergreen, trailing groundcover has dark green leaves with yellowish-white edges. Its texture is coarser than V. minor. This plant grows to 18 inches and spreads indefinitely. Blue flowers appear in spring. It can be used as an annual in cold climates. It is not quite as hardy as the popular Vinca minor and is not quite as aggressive either.
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
This heat-loving native Southwestern species has gray-green leaves and grows to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Orangey red, tubular blossoms cover the plant in late summer and early fall.
This native perennial wildflower of the American Southwest bears a profusion of bright yellow to golden yellow flowers atop 4-inch high plants that spread to 15 inches wide. They bloom from late summer into fall.
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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