By Cynthia "Meems" Glover
Every gardener plays favorites, to some extent. To edge a round bed in the backyard, I called on a few of mine: white alpine strawberry, Double Zahara Cherry zinnia, and chives. These plants don't grow too tall and feature spreading or mounded growth habits that are ideal for skirting a raised bed.
White Alpine Strawberry
Like its full-size strawberry cousins, white alpine strawberry spreads by runners. The plants are perennials, appearing each year in early spring.
Notice how small the patch is. The photo at the top of the blog shows the same patch 12 weeks later. This plant definitely yields starts to share--or compost.
Plants bear small white, sweet berries. I use them to flavor early-season salads featuring spinach, leaf lettuce, dandelion greens, watercress, chive blossoms and arugula.
The strawberry plants are frequently nibbled in early spring, since they're some of the first green plants out. I cover the plants with black netting most of the growing season--early to protect from hungry bunnies and deer, later to keep birds away from berries. You can see the netting over the plants in the video below.
Chives, on the other hand, aren't nibbled by any critters. Both deer and rabbits leave this perennial herb alone in my garden.
After flowering, the plants tend to flop and look bedraggled. When I remove spent blooms I also snip leaves to about 3 inches.
The initial effect looks somewhat ragged, as clipped stems elongate and tips turn brown.
Eventually new growth obscures the brown-tipped leaves.
Double Zahara Cherry Zinnia
The third edging plant I tuck into this bed is annual Double Zahara Cherry zinnia.
It unfurls double vibrant-pink blooms all season long. Best of all, plants don't need deadheading. Flowers fade out, turn brown and eventually disappear.
This view shows the bed on August 26. Strawberries are running rampant, zinnias are flowering profusely, and chives have fresh growth.
Look beyond traditional groundcovers when you need an edging plant. Low-growing herbs, annuals and fruit-bearing plants offer eye-catching alternatives.
See more Mid-Atlantic gardening articles.