Tag Archives: groundcover

Ground Cover Collision!

Whether for sun or shade, the last finishing touch most of us plant is our ground cover plants. It’s that ever so important detail that makes a lovely garden design HOLY COW! But, how do you decide which ground covers are going to be best for your light conditions? What if you just simply can’t decide which one neeeeds to come home from the nursery with you? This one or that one, that one or this one?

Sometimes it’s both! If your light conditions, watering needs and soils are in harmony for more than one ground cover, how about a groundcover MASH-UP? A mash-up is when two great things, in our case plants, but it could just as easily be food, music, fabrics, etc. end up snuggling together to make ONE great look, taste or sound. Think peanut butter and chocolate, mint and chocolate, coffee and chocolate, wine and chocolate. Hmmmm, maybe I need chocolate now. ;-)

Acaena 'Purple Haze' with Sedum 'Oreganum' This Sedum oreganum ‘Oregon Stonecrop’ is a wonderful example of a lovely collision with Acaena inermis ‘Purple Sheep’s Burr’ as a flat, hardy and walkable ground cover for light traffic.

Not all ground covers are flat and walkable, some are fluffy and full like this combination of hosta ‘Halcyon’ with ‘Black Scallop’ Ajuga and white variegated Comfrey in the background. The triad of textures and cool colors are lovely in this eastern morning sun exposure.
'Black Scallop' Ajuga, Hosta 'Halcyon' and White Variegated ComfreyThis singular and exotic looking Paris podophylla stands tall above a monochromatic mash-up of ground covers. The hardy Asarum europaeum ‘European wild ginger’ is a glossy textural contrast to the low Adiantum venustum ‘Himalayan maidenhair fern’ in a shady nook.

Paris podophylla, Maidenhair Fern and European GingerWhy not try a ground cover mash-up in your own garden? Snuggle up a plant or two and see what foliage combinations you can create in your very own ground cover collision!

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Power-Packed Hearts

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Design by Riz Reyes, RHR Horticulture

What is it about this combo that had both Christina and I reaching for our cameras? Between us we took a dozen or so shots from different angles. I came to the conclusion that its power is in its simplicity.

The star is undoubtedly the Iron Cross oxalis (Oxalis tetraphylla ‘Iron Cross’) with its four leaved clover type foliage, each cluster of heart shaped leaves having a dark center. The color echo with the strappy black mondo grass (Ophiopogon plansicapus ‘Nigrescens’) combined with the high contrast in texture is striking.

Thrown into the medley is the burgundy wedding train coleus (Solenostemon hybrida ‘Burgundy Wedding Train’) a vigorous trailing cultivar with smaller leaves than most. Notice how its leaves are also heart shaped – a repetition of the oxalis.

All three could mingle happily as a dramatic shady groundcover or be equally at home in a container where the coleus would  throw up stems to pierce its companions and also spill over the edge of the pot.

How easy is that?

Plant Details

Iron cross oxalis; hardy in zones 8a-10b; or use it as an annual! This grows 6″ tall, has hot pink flowers and likes part shade. (It may wilt in full sun). Average moisture. Non-invasive. It is also said to be deer and rodent resistant – I’m still testing that!!

Black mondo grass: Hardy in zones 6-10. 6″ tall and wide. Evergreen. Sun or part shade. My deer leave this for the rabbits.

Burgundy wedding train coleus: annual. 12-18″ high and trails/climbs to 2′. Morning sun and afternoon shade.

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One Plant – Two Ways

Simple contrast

Simple contrast; hosta and shamrock

Who knew a humble Pacific Northwest native groundcover could offer such variety? Shamrock (Oxalis oregana) can be seen spreading with ease in the dappled light of our deciduous forests yet in the garden it is not difficult to keep within bounds.

This evergreen beauty has velvety, evergreen foliage which is studded with white flowers in spring, each having a distinct lavender vein.

Option 1; The co-star

No second fiddle here – the shamrock and hosta share the limelight equally in this serene monochromatic combination.

Why it works.

1. Great contrast between the matte shamrock leaves and the glossy hosta foliage

2. A perfect match of green!

3. Exciting contrast in leaf shape between the two plants

A backdrop for finer details

A backdrop for finer details

Option 2; The supporting player

Shamrock forms a dense mass of overlapping leaves, making it a perfect backdrop for the delicate unfurling fronds of ferns and periwinkle bluebells.

Why it works

1. The shamrock provides a clean horizontal canopy through which the ferns and bluebells can rise

2. The fresh green shamrock leaves add a backlight to the darker fern stems and bright blue flowers, throwing them into clearer focus

3. The decaying bluebells foliage will be nicely hidden by the evergreen groundcover.

Plant details

Common name; shamrock, redwood sorrel

Botanical name; Oxalis oregana

Size;                    6″ high and 2″ wide with a spreading habit

Light;                  part shade, shade

Soil;                    moisture retentive

Zones;                7-9

A bonus combination can be seen in our book FINE FOLIAGE called ‘Twice Lucky’. look for it on pages 88-89!

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