Great Cover-Ups

Ground­cov­ers turn a bare patch into a show­piece.

Australian House & Garden - - Content -

NA­TIVE VI­O­LET ( Vi­ola banksii, for­merly Vi­ola hed­er­acea) Na­tive vi­o­let is your go-to plant for that shady, of­ten damp area down the side of the house. It’s ideal to soften around a step­ping-stone path, adding pretty mauve and white flow­ers for most of the year to the dense cover of round leaves. It spreads eas­ily, so don’t use where it will com­pete with other plants. In shade it can reach 10cm tall, but is flat­ter in sun­nier and drier spots. It grows in most cli­mates. STAR JAS­MINE ( Trach­e­losper­mum jas­mi­noides) The climber we love for its mass of per­fumed white flow­ers from late spring to early sum­mer makes an equally hardy ground­cover. Use it in sun or shade to cover large ar­eas un­der tall trees or across slop­ing banks. It forms a dense cover about 30cm high, but if you want some­thing lower, denser and tighter, look for Asi­atic star jas­mine ( Trach­e­losper­mum asi­aticum), es­pe­cially the cul­ti­var ‘Flat Mat’. Shear it all over af­ter flow­er­ing fin­ishes. BELLFLOWER ( Cam­pan­ula poscharskyana) Pro­fuse, star-shaped flow­ers in laven­der-blue from mid-spring to sum­mer make this dense ground­cover as pretty as it is prac­ti­cal. The soft, heart-shaped leaves reach no more than 15cm high but can spread in­def­i­nitely. It some­times self-seeds in the cracks of paths or steps, so is able to tol­er­ate oc­ca­sional dry­ness. It’s also lovely spilling over rocks, or fill­ing in be­tween peren­ni­als and shrubs. It grows in cool and warm cli­mates where it’s pro­tected from hot sun. BLUE BU­GLE ( Ajuga rep­tans) This shade-lov­ing beauty forms flat rosettes of shiny leaves from which tall spikes of blue flow­ers rise in spring and sum­mer. The leaves are usu­ally glossy deep green, but ‘Atrop­ur­purea’ has pur­plish tones; ‘Bur­gundy Glow’ fea­tures mot­tled cream, pale green and crim­son leaves; and ‘Catlin’s Gi­ant’ has larger, red-tinted fo­liage. Grow Ajuga in warm or cool cli­mates (where it takes more sun) but not the trop­ics. It’s use­ful un­der de­cid­u­ous trees or to bind soil. Once es­tab­lished, it forms a dense mat. CREEP­ING BOOBIALLA ( My­opo­rum parv­i­folium) For hot, dry spots, this na­tive trail­ing plant is a good choice be­cause it’s tough and easy-care. The fo­liage can be green or bronze-pur­ple, and there’s also a fine-leafed form. In spring, it’s sprin­kled with small, white or pale pink starry flow­ers. The stems form roots as they grow, so it’s ex­cel­lent for bind­ing steep banks, and looks lovely as fill be­tween na­tive shrubs or spilling over a wall. It grows in cool, warm and sub­trop­i­cal cli­mates and needs a lot of sun. #

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