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The lacy leaves of this meadow rue look like a columbine's, hence the common and scientific names. But the leaves are actually gray-green and more delicate than its namesake. It bears clusters of long-lasting cottony flowers in shades of lilac, purple, or white in early summer. It is suitable for naturalizing in a meadow or woodland. These perennials grow to about 3 feet tall and half as wide.
From mid-summer to early autumn, this Thalictrum species has clusters of large, fluffy-looking flowers with lilac to white petals and pale yellow stamens atop wiry, purple-tinted stems and delicately textured foliage. Plants grow to 4 feet tall and half as wide.
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.
This garden gem forms a 6-inch-high mat of dainty, ferny foliage, and is perfect for a trough or a lightly shaded nook in a rock garden. In early summer, it produces a profusion of lavender blossoms which appear just above the leaves.
This perennial species is one of the most delicate of Thalictrums, with tiny foliage reminiscent of maidenhair ferns. It bears small, nodding, long-lasting flowers of a unique yellowish plum-brown. It grows to about 3 feet tall and wide.
This fragrant annual is covered with delicate, daisy-like yellow blossoms in July and August. It is best grown as a groundcover, between paving stones, or in a rock garden. It has needle-like, almost ferny leaves and grows to 1 foot tall and wide.
In early- to mid-summer, this mat-forming thyme erupts with masses of 6-inch-high spikes covered with pink flowers. The light green, tiny foliage, hugging the ground in mats, has a pleasing lemon fragrance when crushed. This plant shines when spilling over stone walls or between the cracks in paving stones, where passersby can tread on the leaves and release the lemony scent.
This plant is an elegant addition to an herb or ornamental garden. It has lemon-scented green leaves edged in silver and produces lilac flowers in early summer.
This thyme grows to 6 inches tall, with fuzzy stems and tiny, rounded, fuzzy blue-green leaves. In summer, it produces clusters of very small white to lilac-pink flowers. Plants spread to about 9 inches wide. The leaves are aromatic but the strength of their scent varies according to the plant's site and the time of year.
Woolly thyme—the wooliest of all thymes—forms a dense ground-covering mat of tiny, densely hairy leaves. The foliage has barely any fragrance and is unsuitable for culinary use. In summer, tiny pink tubular flowers appear. Plants grow to only one inch or so in height and spread to about a foot across.
'Annie Hall' forms a prostrate mat with small, narrow leaves and is covered with pale purple-pink flowers in late spring. Plants can grow to 10 inches tall and 18 inches wide.
One of the first thymes to flower each year, this charming and reliable cultivar bursts into bloom in early spring with unique salmon-pink flowers. Its fuzzy olive-green foliage forms a mat 1 to 2 inches tall and 18 inches wide. It is one of the most tolerant of thymes of dry conditions, but grows robustly with plenty of water.
This clump-forming variety has very dramatic, deeply cut foliage with wide black veins that looks like a black snowflake when new. The dark color is more pronounced in cool weather. Plants produce a profusion of starry white flowers on numerous spires up to 12 inches high and grow to about a foot wide. Tiarellas are at home in moist woodland environments. In the garden they make wonderful carpets of intricate leaves. For a long period from spring into summer, the profusion of foamy flowers can be appreciated up close or from a distance. Grow 'Black Snowflake' as a groundcover or edger in a shady border or woodland garden. It is a great foil to early spring bulbs.
This running cultivar has notably large light-pink flowers that appear in spring and then rebloom. It has a compact habit with maple-like leaves marked with burgundy centers. Foliage turns bronze in the fall. Plants grow to about 14 inches tall and slightly wider.
The leaves of this clump-forming variety look as if they have been dusted by a fine mist of pink, cream, and green. It is a rebloomer, and in spring it produces a profusion of fragrant light pink flowers on spires that can reach 15 inches, rising above the foliage which grows to about 6 inches tall and wide.
This clump-forming variety has unusually long, maple-shaped leaves with a chocolate-colored overlay. It is topped in spring by 16-inch spires of pink buds which yield to wispy, starlike ivory flowers. Plants rebloom lightly, so they can flower from spring to mid-summer. 'Mint Chocolate' grows to about 16 inches tall and a foot wide.
This clump-forming variety has exquisitely textured, bright green maple-like leaves emblazoned with chocolate centers. In spring, its large pink-kissed-white flowers rebloom lightly on 16-inch stalks. Leaf coloration is best in cool weather. Plants grow to about a foot wide.
This reblooming, clump-forming variety blooms in spring, producing 15-inch spires densely packed with pink blossoms. Its deeply cut foliage is compact, with black markings along the midrib. Plants grow to about 10 inches tall and wide.
A good choice for winter color, this clump-forming variety is often grown for its long lasting, pink-budded white flowers that appear in late spring on 12-inch spires. Its star-shaped leaves are marked with burgundy and, in mild climates, turn bronze in winter. Plants grow to about 1 foot tall and wide.
This native North American species has pale green heart-shaped leaves which develop bronze highlights in the autumn. In summer, it produces a profusion of starry white flowers on 4- to 12-inch spikes. It self-sows freely.
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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