Thursday, February 17, 2011

Evergreen Groundcovers

Evergreen groundcovers aren't the stars of the garden, but they help keep the green going into the winter months. 

Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) in February
English Ivy (Hedera helix), Periwinkle (Vinca minor) and Pachysandra (Pachysandra terminalis) are the old standards.  They have their place, but there are many other options. 
I'll highlight just a few. 

Junipers may be overused, but here are a few that I like:
Japanese Garden Juniper (Juniperus procumbens 'Nana') is low and wide spreading with a nice texture.

Blue Star Juniper (Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star') is more rounded, with blue-green foliage which can be used for contrast.

I spotted this feathery-looking shrub this fall (also shown in the first photo), that
I wasn't familiar with. 
Update:  I've learned that it's Russian Arborvitae (Microbiota decussata). 
Originating in Siberia, it's a sturdy plant with
green summer foliage and bronze-purple winter foliage, and with
a potential spread of 6-10 feet. 

Sweet Box (Sarcococca hookerana var. humilis) is a shrub for shady locations.  Its tiny white late winter flowers are fragrant. 

Evergreen hardy perennials don't generally cover as large an area, but have the added bonus of flowers. 


Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens) was still looking lush at the end of November in southcentral PA.  I love the dainty white flowers that cover the plant in the spring.

Candytuft is looking a bit bedraggled in February, but signs of new spring growth are evident.

Lirope (Liriope muscari 'Variegata') bravely pokes it's head out from the snow in January.

Lenten Rose (Helleborus orientalis) is beloved for its late winter flowers, but its foliage, effective for much of the year, is worthwhile also.  This photo was take in early January, before the snows came.

 Blue Fescue (Festuca glauca) is still
performing in mid January.

Serbian Bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana) is a personal favorite.  It's pictured above at the end of November. 

By mid-February it's rather sparse. 
But the wonderful cascade of blue spring flowers (shown below) are exceptional, if rather fleeting.

For more fun with foliage, check out
Foliage Follow-up at Digging.


Søren said...

There are definitely plants in this entry that have now made their way to my wish list...

Anonymous said...

Carex is another sedge that remains green through winter, but can go brown losing the protective snow cover. There are quite a few winter green plants from which to choose and you hit on a good number of them. I am sure your post will help many.

One said...

I enjoy looking at those green poking through white. Those blue spring flowers are gorgeous. It looks like a blue blanket without leaves.

Christine said...

Sweet Box should work well in my shaded garden and I love how it looks!

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris, What an interesting selection of groundcover plants you outline here. Although Pachysandra is a stalwart and perhaps rather mundane I love it. It never fails me wherever I place it and I always think that it looks attractive the year round. Sarcococca is also another favourite of mine and I grow it by a pathway so that as one brushes against it one releases its pretty perfume.

I am afraid to say that I do not give conifers house or garden room.

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

Chris, You and I think alike about evergreen ground covers--very important. Funny, I thought I was the only one recommending hybrid hellebores as a ground cover. Carolyn

Carolyn ♥ said...

Great post Chris. They play such an important role in our Winter gardens.

Chris said...

Soren: The wish list is always growing, isn't it? Good thing spring is coming so we can put some of our plans in practice!
GWGT: Yes, there are many options to choose from, too many to fit in one post. That leaves room for another post....
One: It is a treat to see green in the midst of the snow. I love Campanula poscharskyana flowers!
Christine: It has such a nice look to it!
Edith: Thank you for visiting and sharing your experience with us!
Carolyn: The hellebores pictured are at the entrance to Hershey Gardens.
Carolyn: I appreciate your visiting and taking the time to let me know you were here!

Sunray said...

Like you I also like having my evergreen groundcovers. Gives a little color when you need it in winter.

Goldenray Yorkies

Alistair said...

Chris, you do have a lot of Winter interest in your garden, The sweet box is also a favourite of my wife's.

Pam/Digging said...

I like that you show these winter performers in other seasons too, for comparison. My favorites are the junipers in the snow--just lovely.

Shyrlene said...

Chris - this is a great post! I'm really stoked to see some of your featured plants are on my "2011 Wishlist". Thanks for the information.

Cat said...

It's nice to learn about so many varieties of plants that we don't grow have quite an extensive collection!

Chris said...

Sunray: You're so right, Cher. It's easy to forget to plan for winter, but the color is so appreciated when everything is gray!

Alistair: These photos are a collection gathered from various locations - only a few of them are from my yard. I don't have sweet box in my garden, but it looks like a great plant that I'd like to add!

Pam: That green popping out of the white - you can't beat it!

Shyrlene: I'm so glad you stopped by and am encouraged that you found the information helpful!

VW said...

Looks like you have a few more choices in Pennsylvania than we do here - I thought I saw a sweet box that was hardy here, but I think the rating was a mistake. I noticed that most of the creeping junipers have turned so pink/brown that they blend in with bare soil around here. Of course it's all hidden under 8-10 inches of snow right now, which is merciful since it dropped well below zero last night!

Garden Sense said...

VW: I think that Sweet Box is borderline here as well. There is variation in the zone range in different resources. This photo is taken at Hershey Gardens.

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