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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
'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.
Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' is a stunning, wide-spreading ground cover with grassy, blue-green foliage and pink flowers. Use it to edge a bed or grow it in your rock garden for a splash of cool color. To keep its blooms going, be sure to deadhead.
Regarded by some as the bluest blue fescue, this plant forms compact, cascading mounds of foot-tall, intensely blue, narrow leaves that are attractive in all seasons. Blooms are generally secondary to the foliage, but this cultivar blooms more heavily than most, with spikelets in summer. This cultivar is long-lived and very hardy. Grow in groups in a border or rock garden, or as a groundcover.
Deeply cut plum-purple leaves emerge in spring and stay true to color throughout the season. Lavender-blue flowers bloom beginning in late spring. 'Midnight Reiter' grows to only about 6 or 8 inches tall and twice as wide. More shade causes the foliage to be greener.
'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.
The old-fashioned shamrock houseplant is now high fashion. Several introductions from Proven Winners push this group to the fore for its elegant foliage; abundant, delicate flowers; and vigor. Only 6 to 10 inches high with a spread to 12 inches, this plant’s tiny, ¾-inch-wide, bronze-colored leaf clusters and bright yellow flowers are massed on trailing stems that spill over the sides of shaded window boxes and containers.
This tropical annual produces mounds of narrow burgundy-red foliage and purple plumes to 1 foot long. It is invaluable for containers and stunning, annual foliage color in a border. It rarely sets seed.
Cooks and gardeners alike are indebted to this evergreen perennial for the unique, pungent flavor and aroma that its gray-green leaves produce. This cultivar has leaves suffused with steely-gray purple. It forms a 1.5-foot-tall and wide bush with woody stems that may be trimmed back to newly emerging growth or strong stems in spring. In early to mid-summer, it sends up lavender-purple flower spikes; it has both ornamental and culinary qualities in an herb garden. It tolerates alkaline soils, but cannot survive wet winter conditions.
This mat-forming species forms a carpet of rosy-red flowers in late July and August, contrasting against green leaves with bronzy-maroon highlights.
This species has exquisite tiny foliage that looks somewhat like parsley but with a steely blue cast. The leaves clothe stems that reach up to 18 inches in height. In early summer, it bears tiny greenish yellow flowers in starlike clusters. Plants grow to about 18 inches 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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