Cover the ground

Form a mat of con­trast­ing colours and tex­tures to build up ab­stract pat­terns in your patch.

NZ Gardener - 365 Days of Flowers - - The Spring Garden -

Rather than strug­gling with truck­loads of peb­bles and rolls of weed­mat, there’s a much eas­ier way to keep weeds down in your plot. Plant it up with ground­cov­ers, weed it metic­u­lously for the first year as they knit to­gether, and soon they will form a beau­ti­ful mat.

CHAMOMILE

Grow the peren­nial Ro­man chamomile ( Chamaemelum no­bile), not Ger­man chamomile ( Ma­tri­caria re­cu­tita), if you wish to grow a fra­grant herb lawn. Ro­man chamomile needs cut­ting once a year to keep it tidy; 'Tre­neague' has no flow­ers, but needs no clip­ping at all.

WOODRUFF

A su­perb ground­cover for wood­land con­di­tions, sweet woodruff ( Gal­ium odor­a­tum) has starry white flow­ers in late spring. Plants are ev­er­green in mild win­ters; in colder ar­eas plants die back but new growth ap­pears in spring. Plants are frost hardy but go dormant in dry soils.

SEA THRIFT

Na­tive to coastal marshes in Europe, sea thrift ( Arme­ria mar­itima) is a clump­ing, ev­er­green peren­nial that thrives in full sun. Tough and easy to grow, it copes with salt winds and sandy soil and is drought-tol­er­ant. In heav­ier soils, add gravel prior to plant­ing.

THREE CHEERS FOR AJUGA

The su­perbly hardy Ajuga rep­tans is an ex­cel­lent ground­cover for most sit­u­a­tions. It grows in sun or shade, and in ar­eas where not much else will grow. The plants spread by sur­face run­ners, so pieces of rooted stems can be lifted and planted else­where in the gar­den to dou­ble your stock. Plant ajuga en masse, or mix it in a patch­work ef­fect with other ground­cov­ers. 'Caitlin's Gi­ant' has green-bronze and bril­liant pur­ple-blue flower spikes in spring.

CREEP­ING CAMPANULA

Creep­ing bellflower is a herba­ceous peren­nial that flow­ers from late spring through sum­mer. It's per­fect for rock­eries or front of bor­ders, and even the sides of rock or brick walls. This hardy plant grows in sun or part shade. Species avail­able in­clude Campanula poscharskyana and Campanula mu­ralis. 'EK Too­good' is a pop­u­lar va­ri­ety with a height of 20cm and spread of 40cm. Creep­ing campanula grows well in con­tain­ers too; al­low it to trail over the sides.

Ground­cov­ers grow hor­i­zon­tally, root­ing when­ever they touch earth, or push out­wards with un­der­ground rhi­zomes.

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