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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.
This cultivar of the North American species has reddish, deeply lobed, oak-like leaves that mature to dark green with burgundy splashes. From late spring to early summer it produces a profusion of starry pink flowers for up to 8 weeks. Plants grow to about 18 inches tall and wide.
This deciduous tree with dense foliage and a stately habit produces hanging clusters of fragrant yellow flowers in mid-summer. It grows in a broadly columnar shape and has dark green leaves that are glossy underneath. Basswood makes a good specimen or street tree, although it doesn't tolerate pollution. It can grow as tall as 80 feet with a width of 50 feet. It attracts bees; basswood honey is a sought-after gourmet food.
One of the hardiest palms, Chinese windmill palm has single stems with large, 4-foot-wide fans of sword-like leaves. It produces large plumes of yellow flowers in early summer; the flowers of female plants transform into bluish-black fruits. Chinese windmill palms may be shoot-hardy to Zone 6 if protected with 10 inches of mulch. With their rich fans and handsome habits, they make attractive specimens for formal outdoor spaces. These evergreen palms are native to the mountains and temperate regions of subtropical Asia. Plants can grow to 20 feet tall and 8 feet wide.
This luminous hybrid bears unspotted, orchid-like lavender flowers with yellow-throated bases. It has unusually large and clean leaves, which look great all season. It grows up to 3 feet tall, although its lovely, almost weeping, habit keeps the plant's height closer to 2 or 2.5 feet. It grows to about 3 feet wide. Toad lilies make subtle but exotic specimens for woodland borders and other shady sites.
The upward-facing, star-like blossoms of this species vary from white to light pink or lilac, with reddish purple spots throughout. They are reminiscent of orchids. Toad lily blooms in early autumn along arching stems to 2 or 3 feet tall. Plants grow to 2 feet wide. They make subtle, but exotic specimens for woodland borders and shady house plantings. They will colonize over time, but are not invasive. These perennials are from moist woodlands and high elevations from eastern Asia to the Phillipines.
Amethystina's upward-facing, star-like blossoms are bluish-lavender with purple spots and creamy bases. It blooms in early autumn along arching stems up to 3 feet tall and grows half as wide. Toad lilies make subtle but exotic specimens for woodland borders and other shady gardens.
The star-like blossoms of this species are white with rich purple spots and purple stigmas. It blooms in late summer to mid-autumn along arching stems up to 2.5 feet tall.
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 trillium has upright or outward-facing blossoms of chocolate or reddish-purple, or occasionally white or yellow. At close range, it bears an unpleasant scent. It blooms in mid- to late spring, and grows from 14-20 inches tall and a foot 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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