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