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Black foliage and spiky blue flowers (which appear in early summer) make a dramatic contrast. 'Black Scallop' thrives in full sun, which intensifies the black color. In full sun, the plant produces numerous runners, which should be thinned to prevent crown rot. In large plantings, you can run a rotary mower with a bagger attachment over the patch to control crowding and keep the foliage fresh. In mixed container plantings, the spilling habit of the plant makes it a standout choice. -Ron Smith, Regional Picks: Upper Plains, Fine Gardening issue #120
This sedge is one of the most adaptable of the ground-cover grasses. Its ability to look the same in sun or shade makes it a valuable asset in plantings that go in and out of full sun. Berkeley sedge is a good solution for areas under stress where lawn grasses often fail. The flowers are not particularly noteworthy.
Fringed flowers in shades of bright red with white centers open without fragrance in summer.
This sturdy groundcover is fast becoming one of the most dependable grasses for creating drought-tolerant meadows. Clumping evergreen foliage is a rich khaki green and grows in an arching clump. The flowers, while noticeable, are not showy. Atlas fescue is at its best in groups and grows in all but hot, humid, and low desert climates.
Thick rhizomes and stout, sprawling stems guarantee this hardy geranium survivor status. It forms dense mats of foliage in no time, making a perfect large-scale groundcover. The foliage is aromatic, particularly when touched, and transforms to red in fall. The magenta-pink flowers are conspicuously veined. 'Bevan's Variety' grows to slightly more than a foot tall with indefinite spread.
Bold, large, shield-shaped leaves with a deep green center and creamy-white margins turn white with age. Funnel-shaped mauve flowers borne on leafy scapes 32 inches long 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 tender tuberous perennial with heart-shaped, lobed, almost black leaves bears trumpet-shaped lavender to pale purple flowers. It is excellent in containers or weaving among other plants in beds and borders.
'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.
In autumn, this unique specimen creates a spectacular, billowy inflorescence of massed, vibrant pink, airy flowers on 4-foot stems. It is noted for its tolerance to poorly drained soil. It is possibly hardy to Zone 6 with protection.
This beautiful warm-season grass produces attractive, pale purplish-gray plumes in autumn and goes dormant in the cold season. It forms a neat, upright clump with fine blue-gray foliage.
This clump-forming, semi-evergreen perennial has long prostrate stems and pewter-green foliage. Fragrant, bottlebrush-like white flowers are borne on 2- to 4-inch-long spikes in spring, as the foliage appears.
This plant has leathery, evergreen dark green foliage with slightly indented margins. It reaches about 8 to 10 inches tall and bears tiny white male flowers. It spreads by rhizomes, eventually forming a mat at least 2 inches thick. Cultivars offer more compact form with smaller, finely toothed leaves ('Green Carpet') or glossy dark green leaves ('Green Sheen').
Prized largely for its foliage, this spreading evergreen perennial is grown as an annual or under glass.
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.
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 cool-season grass begins the season with bright green blades. In late summer and early fall, it produces silvery inflorescences which complement its golden-hued autumn foliage and persist throughout the winter.
The finely textured, green leaves of this slow-growing, clump-forming perennial turn golden yellow in autumn. It bears cloudy panicles of fragrant, pale-pink to tawny flowers 5 to 10 inches long in late summer, reaching 3 feet tall.
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.
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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