For at­trac­tive ground cover that smoth­ers weeds

Amateur Gardening - - Contents -

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

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