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This woodland plant is valued for its flowers and its heart-shaped, ground-covering leaves. Its small blue flowers go nicely with ephemeral bulbs in mid- to late spring, as the enlarging leaves block out the ripening bulb foliage. 'Jack Frost' can take dry summers and wet winters. This cultivar is prized for its improved tolerance of heat and sun. -Marty Hair, Regional Picks: Upper Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
This woodland plant is valued for its flowers and heart-shaped, groundcovering leaves. 'Langtrees' can take dry summers and wet winters. This cultivar is prized for its improved tolerance of heat and sun.
This brunnera cultivar has a silvery, heart-shaped leaves that are mostly everygreen. Delicate blue flowers emerge in spring. Drought tolerant once established, ‘Looking Glass’ brunnera requires little watering and is fairly resistant to pests. This cultivar grows to a little more than a foot tall and almost as wide. Use it in a woodland or shade garden, in a container, or at waterside. -Sylvia Matlock, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue #127
'Ice Dance' is a dense, spreading sedge grown for its foliage. This sedge looks good year round, even in winter.The early-spring flowers are insignificant, but the white-edged leaves complement most other plants. Grow as a groundcover in woodland areas or in a shade garden. This sedge is evergreen in warm climates. -Jane Hutson, Regional Picks: Midwest, Fine Gardening issue# 127
Cooks and gardeners alike are indebted to this evergreen perennial for the unique, pungent flavor and aroma that its gray-green leaves produce. This charming cultivar has green leaves with irregular yellow margins. It forms a 1.5- to 2-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 occasionally sends up lavender-purple flower spikes; it has both ornamental and culinary qualities in an herb garden. It tolerates alkaline soils, but not wet winter conditions.
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 ornamental value, too—green leaves with white margins which are suffused with pink or purple. It forms a 1- to 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 is tolerant of alkaline soils, but cannot survive wet winter conditions.
This variety is more compact than the species, and its leaves are variegated with creamy margins. In late spring to summer, its star-shaped yellow flowers open from pink buds and mature to crimson. It grows to just 4 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
This notably beautiful plant produces huge, elongated banana-shaped leaves, which are arfully edged in luminescent yellow. The rosette sits at 18 inches tall, and in early summer the plant bears clusters of mauve-pink bells atop stems that are 4 to 5 feet tall.
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.
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 species blooms in early to mid-spring with large blossoms of white, yellow, or deep purple-black. It is vigorous, growing to almost 18 inches tall and wide, with leaves (usually mottled) up to 8 inches long.
This mid- to late-spring bloomer bears yellow blossoms atop a trio of leaves often mottled with a paler shade of silvery-green. It is faintly fragrant of lemon oil, and grows to about 14 inches tall.
This striking spring-blooming species features narrow, chocolate-colored petals that twist like a propeller over slightly mottled leaves. It forms a stocky plant, growing to 10-15 inches tall and not quite as wide.
This old-fashioned cultivar of the species has a mounding habit and grows 10-12 inches tall. In summer and early fall, it bears deep red and orange blossoms, which are offset by rounded leaves with white variegation. The leaves and flowers are edible.
This climbing, old-fashioned cultivar grows to 8 feet tall. In summer and fall, it bears flowers of maroon, yellow, cream, and orange, and in-between shades of peach, apricot, salmon, and scarlet. The leaves are marbled with white variegation. The leaves and flowers are edible.
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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