Pirl - Must honestly say that it looks great just the way it is. How old are some of those plants? Will they "fill up" the space anymore than they already have? What is that round-leaved plant in the lower left corner?
Wow! I'd be happy with half that variety growing so beautifully together. Keep an eye on your ginger - it can spread. In my garden, it likes to think of itself as a groundcover. And it's a toughie to pull out once it's self-seeded itself. Would a groundcover in that bed get enough light with all of the other gorgeousness going on?
The ginger has been very well behaved for about five years now. I take out little clumps at a time.
I just want the same general look in more gardens.
Since I have a lot of blue hostas (not my favorites) and a lot of sedum in the gray to dark colors I felt that could be a start. I'd just like to look for things I never knew existed. Festuca looks interesting.
I do have ajugas, Burgundy Glow and Silver Brocade. Either (or both) would go well with the blue hostas (Love Pat and Blue Moon). I do have Brunnera and Silver Painted Fern and they could both be separated.
No matter how often I try primula it doesn't thrive for me.
Are there sites for nurseries that sell mainly ground covers?
Ophiopogon is great for shade, as well, and adds a different kind of heigth and texture. I wouldn't typically call it a ground cover, but I have seen it used in that fashion with something for contrast - either a mint-colored sedum or a dwarf chartreuse carex.
What's that little thing from New Zealand (that I try every other year and then kill) - yeah Leptinella squallida. I guess it's part shade and it's a relative of the sunflower . . . might not be hardy in your area, though.
Bluestone has a nice selection although they're not quite the newest, trendiest varieties. I am partial to Campanula poscharskyana. Have had it for years. Beautiful flowers ('Blue Waterfall' or 'E.H. Frost') but plain foliage. Dare I suggest Lysimachia 'Aurea'?
Thanks, Katie. I'll investigate Ophiopogon. We have a lot of sedums from tiny ground covers to tall ones and like how well they behave. There are also ferns in the garden above, tiarella, heuchera, hosta, lysimachia Aurea (I get along well with it, Cindy), Red Dock, Epimedium, a Harlequin hydrangea at the furthest end, Bridal Veil astilbe, iris, hellebore, a few different Euphorbias, and I try out some coleus there each year.
I had Leptinella at the front and it became smaller each year until it disappeared entirely just like the very tiny hosta I had in there. That one got so small that a quarter dwarfed it and I knew it was doomed at that point.
I've had a Campanula that just might be an old one, similar to Poscharskyana, for years and love it.
I think I might have a picture of the Ophiopogon combo from a garden tour last year and if I remember I'll look for it tonight when I get home and post it. For whatever reason, O. grows well for me here - I think it actually may like a somewhat clay soil, like sedges, and some protection from the sun.
Just found O and see the common name is Black Mondo Grass. I was talked out of it long ago by my nurseryman and now I'd like to shoot myself. I love the look of it but he said it was extremely slow to multiply. Had I ignored him I'd have a nice big clump of it now.
Maybe the next areas will be a black and blue garden with some of the lower sedums, O, and blue hostas. I already have Obsidian heuchera and a few other silvery dark ones.
You know, I wouldn't say that. If it's in the right conditions it multiplies at a pretty good pace - maybe not as fast as some grasses, but it does fine. I think that the key is to keep dividing it to encourage it to spread. I found a rootbound gallon pot for $10 at a nursery last year. I divided it into probably 10 small plants and put them in their own pots for the winter in a protected spot. I'll plant them out this year at about 4" apart and I'll bet that they'll fill in the space between them in 2 years. So that's a 40" x 4" swath - over 3 feet in two years. I haven't done that before - I've just used it in pots mostly. But I'm going to take full advantage of it throughout the yard in the next few.
Oh, and I meant to say that it looks very cool with Heuchera 'Obsidian' and Geum 'Lady Stratheden' in lesser shady areas. I had them together in a pot last year with Euphorbia 'Bonfire' and a nice burgundy flax in the center . . . but that's a whole different story.
Thanks for all of your help. I'd love to find a pot of it as you did! Running through photos I did find an Actea 'Lingerie' that needs moving to a shadier spot so that's one more for a new area.
I do containers as well and have full sunshine in the front along with a piece of driftwood about 6' long that is hollow in the center. This year it will have a dark dahlia, Beni Kaze grass, some dark coleuses and anything else that I spot, planted in pots and slid into in the hollow.
I think dwarf mondo grass makes a nice shade groundcover.
Here's a post of a swatch of it planted a few years ago.
If you look closely at the margins of the picture, there are some black mondo clumps I tried to place for contrast. Obviously hasn't filled in yet. It's a work in progress.
I've had great luck w/ mail order nursery Classy Groundcovers.
I've ordered plugs of dwarf mondo which are practically bursting out of their pots at a fair price.
And they delivered them the same week I ordered them!
They have a good rating in Garden Watchdog, too.
Katie - what is the tall dark looking plant with long pointed leaves? I love it. My Cordyline is a lot like it but mine is much less colorful.
The O goes so nicely with that sedum! The only ground cover sedum I don't like is Golden Carpet. Here it's simply way too (over the top) aggressive.
Weerobin - I know I'm sold on O now! A work in progress is how many of us might describe the look we want. Thanks for the mention of Classy Groundcovers and the GW note as well. I'll look into it today.
Pirl, the plant in the center is a young Phormium. They get huge, of course. There was a dwarf burgundy one at the nursery, but it was sold out (of everywhere but in their pre-designed containers) every time I checked in. That's probably good because I'm sure the price was sky high.
Even though we had a warmer than usual winter here (outrageously warm), the Phormium took a beating. I'm not sure it'll be here again this winter and I don't want to fork over the money to use it as an annual. I need to find something else for heighth.
The lysimachia nummularia is pretty aggressive, but it looks awesome in pots against anything burgundy. If it escapes, it's not too hard to get out.
My Lysimachia is not as aggressive as I would like. Maybe the soil's too dry or too much shade. It always looks kinda wimpy and sparse. I thought it would be more aggressive than mine is. It is in a spot though that doesn't get much TLC.
Wow, that's unusual, Cindy. I guess a very dry spot would be a challenge for it. But even on clay in summer in full sun up here, mine doesn't even blink. Drop a piece and it will wait it out until winter when it gets some water.
It was almost fatal heart attack time when I clicked on Classy Groundcovers. I didn't realize it was for 50 or 100 of the same plant. Still it will be a huge help for selecting what I might want 3, 5 or 7 of for the gardens. Thanks to all for supplying the name of it.
Since I managed to kill the Phormium I loved I, too, can't treat it as an annual.
Beni Kaze is just on my shopping list. I want the red color sooner than September. I do have other Hak's that do very well here.
That Lysimachia does go beautifully with burgundy, deep violets and blackish plants.
Cindy - the entire garden that started off this thread is not part of our irrigation system since we had the terrace/patio installed in '92 and that portion of the system had to be removed. Consequently, I water by hand and generally only when I'm hosing down the terrace or if I'm actually caught up on gardening and have the luxury of watering with a hose. So it likes it really dry here.
I've dropped many pieces of the Lysmachia and it loves to grow between the bricks. It even grows in the compost bins.
I don't mulch the soil that the L. is growing in. It can get pretty dry and crusty in the summer. It doesn't get all that much sun either. I've found that some plants may like the garden but not the spot I've put them in. Both blood root and Canadian ginger have long since vacated their original spot on their own and thrive in other spots in the same general area.
Speaking of that spot reminded me that my woodland phlox sure makes a tough groundcover as well. Only thing is that I have to trim the bare flower stems after it's done blooming.
Pirl, your garden beds look great. One of the groundcovers that I've been using is Lamium 'Purple Dragon'. I've heard a lot of people say it gets invasive, so keep that in mind. But, it does great for me, and it is really pretty. Shimmery silvery leaves with a darker green border. The purple flowers in spring and sporatically thruout the summer are a bonus. Picture here is a work in progress - I'm trying to get the Lamium to run the length of the stacked stone wall. Terri
Oh, a note on mondo grass - There used to be show on HGTV called 'A Gardner's Diary' that toured established home gardens. There was one episode called 'The Mondo Man' about a man in Atlanta that replaced all of his grass with mondo grass and shade plants. It was really unusual, but pretty. He must have spent a fortune. Anyone else see that show? Terri
What a gorgeous garden you have and that stone is to die for!
Long ago we planted Lamium 'Beacon Silver'. I still regret it. Somehow it still returns, year after year, though I always feel I've eliminated all seedlings. It's just too wild here. I love the color, the shape of the leaf, the way it lights up dark spots, and the nice neat mounds it makes but if I let it spread it would take over all of the gardens. If there's a sterile Lamium I'd like to know about it but mine is way too fertile.
The very best behaved and easiest to maintain plant in our entire garden has to be dwarf goatsbeard (Aruncus). How I wish every plant was such a pleasure.
I will probably regret the 'Purple Dragon' down the road too, but right now I'm liking it. I planted three regular sized goatsbeard plants last season. I think they'll look great where I put them when they reach their full height. I didn't realize that there is a dwarf variety too. I'll have to look for it to fill in an area where shorter plants are needed. I like their feathery plumes.
You have the big one and I don't. The leaves are lovely. Long ago I thought only old people enjoyed foliage - now I'm one of them - shocking.
Right now I have hundreds of potted coleuses in the (indoor, unheated) porch. It does have doors to two rooms and the doors are open all day and left slightly ajar at night so it doesn't normally get below 60. If my brain were in good shape I'd be planning a garden around them but the urge to buy, when the ground is covered with that fluffy white stuff, is strong.
Katie, yes that is the man and the show. I like the article (now I'll have to google some of my other favorite Gardener's Diary episodes). I still have most of the shows saved on my DirecTV DVR so I rewatch them when I get a chance.
Pirl,what are the plants on both sides of the heuchera (citronelle,maybe) in the shade garden. I love that garden. I have a spot in the front of my house about 25 feet long by 4 feet wide I am trying to do something with.
The front of my house is shaded by a large black walnut tree and some smaller trees on the side. It may get 2 hours of sun here and there but not full sun. Is that Brunnera? What are the puple flowers?
The ginger came from a neighbor and I love the shine of it as well as the fact the slugs leave it alone. I'm forced to use slug bait to protect the other hostas so the Savannah Bird Girl statue can't offer seed to the birds as she was meant to do or I'd be upset if any bird died from eating the bait.
Cindy - once spring arrives for both of us we can compare PH notes. Mine gets no food, no extra attention and thrives on neglect but that always seems to be the case. When we love a plant we tend to dote on it as I did with one daylily that I killed with too much water at the end of the season when it was trying to go dormant.
Sounds like it's going to be a soil thing with the L. I did amend the soil in that area last summer with the rest of my lower garden. Will be interesting to see any overall results down there this year.
Was last year your first year with the Lysmachia? Sometimes it takes a year for them to get established and come spring you may feel certain not much is coming back but that's how they begin each season here - very sparse. Here's the difference between May 4 and June 28:
I checked a few sites and "well drained" was the constant refrain. Here's one brief paragraph:
Moneywort can be planted in any location, sun, shade, part sun. This hardy little perennial doesn't really seem to care where you plant it. It does prefer a little direct sunshine but will grow in total shade. Plant Moneywort in fertile well drained soil. It will adapt to most soil types well.
Oh my goodness. I have it in a clay patch where it sits in water and freezes after a heavy winter rain. It doesn't even blink . . . it actually volunteered there. Of course, our cold temperatures don't usually get below 25. Last year it did get into the teens though and I don't think I "lost" any lysimachia.
I actually have it in my full sun and it can go all summer without any extra watering. Again, my full sun and dry summer isn't as extreme as yours, but that's still something. Suffice to say I haven't found a place on my property where it won't grow . . .
Moneywort has always been a runaway train for me, too...not that I mind. If it gets in the way, it's easy to yank out. My first adventures in moneywort were at my old house in heavy clay soil. It spilled over the edge of a container I had sitting in the garden and next thing I knew I had a patch of it. The following year, it was a much bigger patch. It was baking in full sun and growing in the lousiest soil, but it didn't seem to care. It's hardy stuff!
Yes, and Angelina, too. I had it growing epiphytically in the cracks in between my deck boards until I power washed it off. So I gave it its own spot in the garden and it looks perfect throughout winter.
Pirl - I like the color of the Angelina with the Ajuga.
Maybe the word "fertile" is the key 'cause that spot ain't. I actually have Sedum ternatum growing in the same bed for 15 years. It's just as sparse. Sometimes I think I've lost it altogether. I am curious to see if there's any improvement this spring in that bed. Of course I had to amend the soil last summer around the stuff rather than digging up the whole thing. My original vision was a sea of L. with Heuchera 'Palace Purple' erupting from it. (I don't put the pricey Heucheras down in that area - just some of the 'PP' volunteers.) The H. expired over time - it didn't even like that area. Changed it a bit last year by adding some hardy maidenhair fern (which seems to do well without supplemental water) and Astilbe 'Pumilla' divisions for a little more texture and color. Most of the plants are short in stature in that little area. Behind it is some Epimedium 'Sulphureum', again playing up the yellow.
Angelina grows in the cracks in rocks here so it tells me that it enjoys dry and good drainage. It goes wild but it's even easier to rip out than Lysimachia. Since your PP died I'm only guessing the problem is soil or light. Soil seems to be the more important of the two.
Ferns demand so little in return for their beauty. I have a few in that garden.
I have the identical same Epimedium and it filled in so nicely.
E. 'Sulphureum' does very well in that location. It does tend to ramble just a bit so I do hack off bits and replant elsewhere. I did notice your ferns in your pic. The real trooper in that lower garden is Japanese Painted fern - don't know that it's even a named variety but it does very well with neglect and drying out.
The Japanese Silver Painted Fern does well here no matter where I put it so I think the credit must go to the compost. Every plant gets compost as it's planted and then as a mulch. I love the way that fern glows in shade.
Aw, geez - I'm so ready for spring and green. Sorry - my mind's in a rut now.
Yes, you're absolutely right. I do need more compost and am working on that. I'd compost and amend soil for the next month if it would stay above freezing.
Sorry to go rambling...
Dreary here too. So much snow, and now rain. One of the ground covers that I keep trying and have absolutely no success with is lily of the valley. Everyone else seems to have it go crazy, invasive even, without any care. I want it to go crazy in a certain large bounded area, and I've bought batches of 100s of pips several times now, and still no luck. Only a handful even grow, and they definitely haven't spread. Funny, how the same plant performs so differently for people.
Same here. My dad gave me some years ago when I first started my garden. They do tend to roam where they're not wanted though. It wouldn't be so bad if they formed a nice clump, increasing in an orderly way. But they'll pop up a foot or two away, invading another plant's personal space and have to be yanked out. Not always easy to do - those roots are tough. I would only use these in their own dedicated space and not in partnership with any other plant or shrub.
I do have a Sedum that's snuck into the lower garden from somewhere. Don't know if it moved in via carried-in seed or via a little piece of plant hitchhiking on some creature. It's more of a chartreuse color and is growing in the least hospitable place in the whole garden - clay-packed timber framed stairs. Perhaps I should try move some over to the L. spot - you never know if competition will make the L. stronger...
Since creeping Charlie loves the conditions in the lower garden, I wonder if there's anyway to transform it into one of the new trendy "must-haves". With my luck, I'd try to encourage it to take over and it would then up and die on me. Hmmm...
Yes, I have to marvel at Shot Weed, Buttercup, and Stinky Bob. They are the most prolific ones here. At least the Stinky Bob smells good when you pull it (though I seem to be the only person who thinks that).
pirl - another LOL. I did try H. once but I think it was too dry and died out. Maybe a good thing.
Katie - yikes! I was thinking it might be nice to add to my list of native plants (well, maybe not native for me).
Pirl, I agree that Houttuynia is beautiful. I didn't know that it smelled bad. I think I'll treat it like I treat vinca and put it in a big box. Just need to make sure that I check every now and then to make sure that nothing has snuck out.
CM, I've been trying to figure out where the Herb Robert came from. It is supposedly an escapee from a local flower garden and was first reported on the loose here in 1911. Which leads me to wonder how/where people imported and distributed garden plants back then. Seattle was still pretty young at the time.
I think it's amazing that you can date it's introduction to your area. Do you think a newcomer might have brought it with them on their move to the west? A native elsewhere brought along because of the flowers?
Seattle was always a port and many plants arrived by ship. I'd bet that could be an answer as to the origin of it.
Pamela Harper, the well known author of Color Echoes, recommends Houttuynia for a concrete pot without a drainage hole, on a concrete slab/driveway/etc. and yet I'd bet the seeds would still blow into the bed where it's least wanted.
It goes so well with daylilies but runs rampant. We now have about 40' x 4' of it and no matter how far I dig down the roots go further.
Yes, that could be. I guess seeds could also have come from Eurasia on people's clothes.
40' x 4'. That's a lot!! Is it in sun or shade? Sun, I'm guessing.
The Houttuynia sounds like the Horsetail Fern. I saw at a garden tour last summer that someone had put it in an area completely surrounded by concrete. Yet right next to it the concrete had cracked and I couldn't help but wonder if the Horsetail Fern hadn't played a part in that . . .
I didn't know that those were also introduced. I know the Scots like their rocks and thistles, but didn't realize that they had brought them.
Every year when pruning back and digging out the Himalayan blackberries I think of the guy who supposedly introduced them (Luther Burbank). I was looking for his name and ran across this article. Not about shade plants, but valuable, nonetheless.
How's this for interesting? "Blackberry vines and bushes grow in the native state on every continent except Australia and Antarctica."
I found a few native (to my area) ground covers that are working well for me. I started out with the more traditional non natives like sweet woodruff, lily of the valley, hardy cyclamen and Hellebore. All of those have proved very difficult to remove.
My favorite native small leaved evergreen ground cover is partridgeberry, Mitchella repens, (a good marker for spring ephemerals but can get overrun so plant it near mild mannered plants that play nice). It does bloom with small white flowers and has small red berries
It looks nice with the native Pachysandra procumbens (a very superior plant to the plastic looking non native aggressive pachysandra) with mottled leaves and white spring flowers. It is a slow spreader.
Evergreen Christmas fern, Polystichum acrostichoides, added to that mix adds a nice texture.
There is a native evergreen sedum, Sedum ternatum, that takes shade. It has small leaves and arcs of white flowers in the spring.
I planted it under oakleaf Tiarella wherryi, that is a wonderful slow spreading groundcover and also blooms white.
Add blue flowering wood phlox, phlox divaricata,( after flowering just trim it and it stays green and fresh as long as you don't have too many slugs).
Iris crisata is a small native low woodland edge iris that has spreading short sword like leaves to add texture. I have the white and purple varities and much prefer the purple.
To these groundcovers I've added the lovely barren strawberry plant,Waldenstenia fragarioides, that blooms yellow in the spring. It can take sun or shade and is evergreen. The strawberry like leaves start out a lighter green and turn dark green later in the season and are evergreen. I have high hopes for this one because it can stand up to the very aggressive violets and hardy ginger (both I control but keep large patches for they are host plants for butterflies) I have along the paths, outside the beds.
For a gentler violet that doesn't spread aggressively try Labrador violet as a ground cover. The leaves have a lovely purple tinge.
If you want a native alternate to the small hostas there are some really nice native carexes that work well as groundcovers in the shade. The carexes are in the grass family but the next two have broader strappy leaves that look like earth stars to me. Carex platyphylla has a center cup shape with flat leaves with a decided blue color.
You can try it with yellow or red leaved heucheras.
Carex plantageninea has bright green crinkled "seersucker" leaves. In the spring when they flower they look more grasslike because they produce small brown flowers on narrower leaves and have a more tufted shape. For the rest of the season they have a more scupltural look.
sempervirens - I'm growing a lot of the same plants you have. IMHO - sweet woodruff is just about impossible to remove. Leave one little piece, especially if tangled in the roots of another plant, and it just comes back gangbusters. Hardy ginger is one tough groundcover as well although none of my current plants are in the original planting spot - they all migrated elsewhere via seed. I love the Labrador violets but have never been able to get them well-established. They'll stick around for a season or two and then disappear. The native (?) violets already here are the strongest ones and they are pretty in the spring. Pretty easy to control compared to some of the other groundcovers. My phlox is gorgeous in the spring but after blooming and a haircut, the foliage tends to look a little ratty here. Maybe because that's about the time we head into hotter, drier months. Mitchella has been on my "want" list for years but I've never tried it. I have tried Cornus canadensis (bunchberry) a couple of times but just can't get it established in my garden. I still covet that one.
Hope you Easterners don't get hit with too much snow. The Weather Channel always makes it sound like a catastrophic event. We lucked out here and only got a couple of inches of "lake effect" snow. Sun is shining at the moment but I'm sure that'll change throughout the day.
Hmm - well behaved phlox... I must admit that my woodland phlox has spread itself around in the lower garden. I don't have the heart to rip it out when it's blooming where it's intruded. I use the excuse that it's supposed to be a more "natural" garden.