By Jodi Torpey
Groundcovers are some of the hardest-working plants in my garden. They camouflage problem areas with color, fill the planting spaces between stepping stones, and serve as a “living mulch” to keep weeds at bay. They perform all these jobs so beautifully too.
One of my favorite groundcovers is hardy ice plant (Delosperma). Ice plant is a low-care spreading groundcover that adds texture to hot, dry slopes and other difficult planting areas. This South African native features succulent foliage and brilliant flowers that can transform an ordinary spot into something extraordinary. For an especially nice combination use ice plant with ornamental grasses such as blue fescue.
Golden moss stonecrop loves to creep through rock gardens or along dry borders. This heat-loving groundcover prefers well-drained soil and can take full sun. In summer the foliage sports small, yellow flowers that look like little stars. Two perennials that work well with this sedum are blue catmint (Nepeta faassenii), with lavender flowers, and Echium amoenum Red Feathers, sporting flower spikes.
Plant masses of snow-in-summer (Cerastium tomentosum) and you’ll see where this hardy groundcover gets its name. The dainty, white flowers belie the plant’s ability to prevent soil erosion from hillsides or other sloping areas.
While it’s not usually grouped among groundcovers, lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) qualifies as one in my garden. This perennial gets its name from its soft, fuzzy leaves that ramble through sunny garden spots. Tall flower spikes pop up in late summer, dotted with tiny pink flowers. Plant alongside basket of gold (Aurinia saxatilis) to add color and a complementary texture.
If you’d like a groundcover that fills in quickly, plant rock soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides). This vigorous creeper’s bright-green foliage serves as a beautiful backdrop for the delicate, pink flowers that cover the plant in spring. Soapwort looks lovely planted near larger perennials that appreciate soil-cooling mulch.
I’d love to learn what groundcovers grow best in your Mountain region garden. Please share your suggestions in the Comments section.
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