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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
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.
'Spring Torch' gets its name from the vibrant color of its new growth in spring. The mid-green leaves are tipped in shades of cream, orange, and red. Later in the summer, mauve-pink flower spikes cover the plant and last into the fall. As cold weather sets in, leaves acquire bronze or purple tones, adding further interest. This small, mounding evergreen shrub makes a good groundcover or rock garden plant. Bees love it. Different cultivars are beautiful woven together in the garden to form a colorful tapestry.
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.
'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.
Like other cultivars of this genus, 'Courtasol' is as tough as nails. The biggest difference from the rest, however, lies in its form. The stems reach to only 18 inches tall before arching down to the ground and running along to yield a 5-foot-wide spread. Its grapefruit yellow flowers appear in early spring.
This cultivar boasts single, long-tubed, brick red flowers and dark bronze-red leaves and stems.
'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.
'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.
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.
Each bush is covered in a mass explosion of vivid pink blooms all summer long. One of the new Next Generation Flower Carpet roses with improved heat and humidity tolerance and disease resistance.
This low-growing, clump-forming shrub has a spreading habit, reaching 10 inches tall. Slender branches spread across the ground. Foliage is light blue-green to 1 inch long. In late June, this plant bears clusters of pink flowers; bloom continues into September if deadheaded.
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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