For attractive ground cover that smothers weeds
NeVer mind ivy, euonymus, heuchera and periwinkle. For ground cover that is effective and a great talking point, liriope is the plant to choose.
Like all great weed-smotherers, liriope – a fully hardy, tuberous plant related to lily of the valley – is evergreen; its thin, strappy leaves are either rich green or have creamy variegation and tend to arch over attractively. We’re not talking ground cover in the sense of creeping along at soil level, because liriope reaches up to 1ft (30cm) in height, but when grown en masse it forms dense clumps that make life for wind-blown weed seeds very hard indeed.
So far, so impressive, but it is right now - in autumn - that liriope really comes into its own. L. muscari’s purple flowers are produced in clusters on short stems and look otherworldly. These are followed by black berries that last into winter. ‘Monroe
“It makes life for wind-blown weed seeds very hard”
White’ bears striking white flowers, but needs a position in full shade to thrive - the rest are okay in dappled shade but you should steer clear of a sunny site.
As for soil, it prefers a free-draining, acidic medium, and copes well with
weeks of dry weather. So if your soil gets sodden, dig in some grit before planting, or you can add it to a pot filled with ericaceous compost.
Planting partners? Try acers and Sorbus reducta, renowned for their rich autumnal leaf colours, or rudbeckias and
asters, which are at their flowering peak now. All of these should be planted further back in the border. However, spring bulbs can be intermingled.
Added at planting time (right now), a handful of daffodils will really bump up the interest.
There are several varieties with striped leaves but L. muscari ‘Variegata’ is one of the best
Liriope muscari’s vivid purple flowers almost look like berries, and contrast well with falling acer leaves
Liriope works well with spring bulbs like narcissi
Not a purple fan? ‘Monroe White’ bears lovely pure white flowers, although it needs a fully shaded spot to thrive