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This New Zealand native subshrub has 3-inch-wide scalloped leaves and little purple-brown to pale olive leaflets. Its rhizomatous roots spread in a mat to support this plant's wonderful ground-cover form. In early summer, 3/4-inch-wide flowers appear on short stems, and brownish green sepals and white anthers contrast with the dark leaves. The rhizomatous roots of this plant spread slowly into a mat, forming a nice ground cover. Prune every five years or so for a neat appearance; little other care is required. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #120
"Thorny but irresistible" best describes this low-maintenance, elfin barberry. Tiny leaves are smothered in coral-colored buds opening to bright yellow-orange spring flowers. These, in turn, produce silver-frosted, blue-black berries in fall. 'Corallina Compacta' is evergreen, tolerates most soil types, and is pest-free and drought tolerant once established.
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 is an evergreen, bushy shrub native to southwestern Europe and North Africa. Rock roses are useful in a shrub border, on a hillside, or in containers. Cistus albidus bears vibrant lilac-pink flowers in summer. Although each flower lasts only one day, they are produced in great numbers on plants that are 3 feet tall and wide.
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.
This spreading ground cover flowers from fall into spring. Its tubular, dusky pink flowers attract hummingbirds, and its deep green leaves release a citrus scent when crushed. Tolerant of dry conditions, frost-hardy 'Dusky Bells' correa should be tip-pruned regularly to promote new growth and improve flowering. Healthy specimens can live up to 50 years or more.
Despite a soft, delicate appearance, trailing indigo bush is one of the toughest groundcovers around. The feathery, silvery green compound foliage makes the clusters of tiny, rosy purple flowers stand out at close range. The blooms, which occur most heavily in spring and summer, return sporadically the rest of the year. This plant is excellent for stabilizing soil on slopes because its stem nodes root wherever they come in contact with the ground.
'Minimus' has smaller leaves than other plants of the species and a very low-growing, spreading habit. This evergreen shrub is best used as a groundcover, but it can climb as a vine if given support. It forms a dense mat of quarter-inch leaves. It may suffer winter burn in cold climates.
Prostrate to mound-forming, vigorous evergreen shrubs have oval, toothed, dark green leaves. Cultivars vary in foliage color and variegation, form, climbing or creeping habit, and fall interest.
This cultivar boasts single, long-tubed, brick red flowers and dark bronze-red leaves and stems.
This cultivar has dark green leaves with a faint bronze sheen. Its narrow, dangling, red and purple flowers bloom throughout the season.
'Brigadoon' is a new St. John's wort with brilliant chartreuse-yellow foliage that looks great next to dark-foliaged plants. It grows 12 to 16 inches tall and spreads quickly to about 2 feet wide, making it an excellent groundcover when planted in groups. In the sun, the small, oval leaves turn a dazzling orange-gold. The fuzzy, rather inconspicuous yellow flowers appear in midsummer. 'Brigadoon' tolerates heat, most any type of well-drained soil, and shade.
This evergreen subshrub slowly spreads to form a tidy cushion of shiny dark green leaves. In late spring and early summer, numerous flattened clusters of 4-petaled snow-white flowers nearly cover the foliage. Iberis sempervirens makes an effective edging for a sunny border.
This creeping shrub has a prostrate form and dense, steely blue foliage. The mature height is 1 foot tall. Scale-like green leaves turn a dull purple in winter. Blue rug juniper creates a flat ground cover. It grows 6 to 12 inches per year and bears ovoid dark blue fruit.
'Blue Star' jumiper is a slow-growing, compact, evergreen shrub with a mounding shape. Its silver blue foliage is attractive in all seasons, and its blue, berry-like, female cones each contain one seed, hence its common name.
Yellow-white flowers appear in late spring, followed by prolific berries that ripen from green to bright-red or purple in fall. The elegant foliage turns fiery red in fall. There are low, ground-hugging Nandina varieties; medium-sized shrubs for mid-border; and tall, bushy types for the back of the border.
This dwarf rose grows to only 18 inches tall, and covers itself all season long with large clusters of lightly scented vibrant pink flowers.
Each bush is covered in a mass explosion of amber blooms. One of the new Next Generation Flower Carpet roses with improved heat and humidity tolerance and disease resistance.
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 well-loved rose blooms nonstop from June until frost, with double, rosette-shaped blossoms of light pink. It grows 2 to 3 feet high and wide.
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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