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Western sword ferns abound in the forests of the Northwestern U.S. They are robust, reliable, and virtually maintenance-free. They put up with difficult soil and manage to keep up appearances even in hot, dry weather. Their deep green, leathery fronds are attractive year-round.
A native fern with triangular-shaped, stiff, upright fronds that can tolerate dry soil and full sun. Bracken can make very large colonies and are found in a variety of habitats ranging from dry and wet forests to meadows and bogs. They grow up to 4.5 feet tall.
This eye-catching perennial has silver-plated leaves with speckled margins. Its blooms are among the largest of all lungworts, beginning as pink buds and opening in early spring to display platinum blue flowers.
This plant will eventually form a decent-sized mound that resembles a mountain of liquid silver. It's perfect in a woodland border and makes a great ground cover and container plant. In mild winters, its leaves may stay evergreen.
This cheerful, reliable plant brings a nice touch of color to the garden in spring. The leaves are pointed and hairy and splattered with silvery blotches. As the plant grows, the leaves overlap, creating a swirly pattern. In spring, clusters of silky pink flowers appear. They fade to a soft blue that harmonizes well with the leaf color. -Sue Whetten, Regional Picks: Rocky Mountains, Fine Gardening issue #127
This vigorous shrub hugs the ground (to 2 feet tall) and spreads out to 8 feet, making it an excellent choice for stablizing a bank or smothering weeds. It has small yellow flowers, hairy red fruits, and glossy leaves that change to gorgeous orange-red in autumn.
This species has palmate, wrinkled leaves that extend to 2 feet wide. The veins and leaf stalks are reddish-brown and densely woolly. In midsummer, the 2-foot-long, upright flower spikes are made up of white or pink florets.
This species creates tropical drama with its large, toothed leaves and ivory-green, footlong flowers. It exhibits reddish-bronze color in autumn.
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.
A hardy, fast-growing evergreen shrub, creeping rosemary has a prostrate habit and attractive flowers and fragrance. Dark green leaves, to 2 inches long, are rich in aromatic oils and commonly used as a culinary herb. This plant is loved for its strong pinelike flavor and fragrance.
This prostrate evergreen species produces a mass of richly textured leaves, making it an attractive groundcover for formal areas, rock gardens, or woodland beds. The leaves are thick, neatly rounded and formed, with bronzy undersides and autumn color that persists through the winter. In summer, it bears white flowers, which are sometimes followed by red fruits.
This hybrid of S. nemorosa and S. sylvestris is a drought-tolerant perennial that lends vivid purple-blue hues to the garden from summer to early fall on 1.5- to 3-foot-tall spikes. Deadheading prolongs bloom. The spikes rise from a clump of silvery green leaves that grows to about 2 feet tall and wide.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears abundant pure blue flower spikes in early summer and until fall if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 20 inches tall by 18 inches wide, with wrinkled, softly hairy leaves.
This drought-tolerant perennial bears deep violet-blue flower spikes in early summer and then sporadically if spent flowers are removed promptly. It forms an erect clump 2.5 feet tall by 1.5 feet wide, with wrinkled, soft hairy leaves.
This biennial or short-lived perennial is grown for its massive, downy-silver rosettes of foliage. In its second year, it spawns plumes of white or pinkish flowers with gray calyces in mid- to late summer. The plant has a spiky form, 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide. Locate it where the rosettes can be easily seen.
This perennial forms a shrubby upright clump 2 feet tall by 1 foot wide, with white mealy stems and glossy green leaves. It bears deep, lavender-blue flowers on tall spikes from early summer to frost. Salvias are some of the showiest plants for containers, annual borders, and mixed borders. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them.
This compact perennial forms a bush less than 1.5eet tall by 1 foot wide, with indigo stems and glossy green leaves. It bears deep, navy blue flowers on medium spikes from early summer to frost.
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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