Where shrubs and trees predominate and cast a shade, ground-cover plants are invaluable. Not only are they happy in these conditions, but they are pretty to look at, too. The starry white flowers of sweet woodruff, and the creamy bells of Symphytum grandiflorum are well worth growing, but be wary of plants that can spread wildly, such as yellow archangel.
Most ground-cover species are fast growing and soon spread to cover bare earth and fill in gaps in the planting with a carpet of greenery. By forming a protective layer over the soil, they act as a living mulch and help the soil retain moisture and also deny weeds growing space. Ground-cover plants can also bring vital stability to a bare sloping site. They are low growing so can’t be uprooted by strong winds and their spreading habit covers the soil and stops rain washing it away.
A PINK AND WHITE CARPET
BELOW: Two varieties of deadnettle make a useful color contrast in a narrow border at the foot of a climbing rose. When the flowers have finished, there are still the variegated leaves to appreviate.
ABOVE: Sweet woodruff is a charming shade-loving ground-cover plant that produces masses of starry white flowers in spring. The dried leaves smell of new-mown hay and were used in the past to scent laudry.
LEFT: Low-growing heartsease provides the ground-cover element in a wildflower planting of cornflowers, daisies, and field poppies.
Honeysuckle ( Lonicera periclymenum)
RIGHT: The bright red berries of Lonicera periclymenum “Serotina” make an attractive backdrop from late summer and into fall. Here they cascade into late-flowering rudbeckia and petunias.
ACCENTS OF YELLOW
ABOVE: Climbing yellow roses and honeysuckle have all but covered an old wall, and echo the yellow of the flag irises and shrub roses dotted amongst a sea of bronze fennel.