Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I am going to travel around my home and talk about the various groundcovers noting their pros and cons.  In the back garden under my Regent Serviceberries I have Sweet Woodruff.  It was off to a slow start the first  year and was sparse for the first few years.  Then, it really took off and it is beautiful, little white flowers on top of a field of green.  It survives and thrives in full sun even though it will do well in dappled shade, but there is a lot of moisture where it is planted.  It seems fragile, meaning if you pull on it to interplant it seems to be unraveling.

In the remainder of this back garden and in the front garden I have a pretty common groundcover with many names, periwinkle, myrtle, vinca.  I have a newer variety called "Dart's Blue," which grows more from the center than previous varieties, therefore not as leggy. and more disease resistant.  However, I do find that it requires some clipping in the spring just to make it neater and more dense. 

On the north side of my home I have Pachysandra "Green Sheen."  When I planted this six years ago, I could only find it online. It is very shiny and has a wet look, very little maintenance a trim once in awhile. 

Towards the front on the north side is Euonymous Fortunei Coloratus Wintercreeper.  It is a strong grower, roots in the ground and develops long vining arms that reach everywhere and also upwards if there is a structure on which to climb.  It does require clipping to keep it contained and off pathways and walks.  It turns a beautiful burgundy red in the fall and keeps its leaves most of the year.  I am now battling a scale on this groundcover which I hope I can cure in the spring.

It is always interesting to have different groundcovers as you stroll through the garden.  Also realize that some groundcovers make it difficult to insert plantings.  I would say the myrtle is the most difficult to plant through although once done, the plants easily emerge. 

Groundcovers save on the expense and labor of mulch, although it is comfort to the eye to have areas with both mulch and various groundcovers.  Avoid groundcovers bordering a lawn which can eventually root into that lawn (Ajuga and Lirope).  Aegopodium (Goutweed) is still sold in nurseries - do not buy this, it will take over your world!

Childrens Book Review The Up Down Day


Dave said...

I really like the pachysandra and Sweet Woodruff but I try to stay away from Vinca. It spreads fast down here!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Thanks Dave, you could be right about the Vinca but, supposedly, this variety is more controlled, growing out from the middled rather than rooting along the shoots. It does get pretty dense even here in zone 5 but not unconllable.


Deborah at KIlbourne Grove said...

I do have some of the Vinca,it is planted on a very steep slope and I am trying to encourage it to thicken up. How do you cut yours back?

Gatsbys Gardens said...

I trim off the ends, but Blue Dart grows from the middle not the runners so this does thicken it up quickly.

Other varieties grow by runners rooting along as it grows. If you have one of these varieties I would just clip off any brown areas.

Larry said...

Good morning! I love sweet woodruff and find it very easy to remove when that becomes necessary. The vincas have a wonderful look, but a bit harder to take out as I did this past summer when I redid some areas. I particularly like Ralph Shugert which has leaves with a white edge... I left some in the garden. My experience with euonymus was unpleasant as it eventually got thuggish and tremendous task to remove. I've never tried pachsandra but do like the look. Ajuga doesn't get rampant here and I like it as well as do hummingbirds when it blooms. I have a dwarf variety in the rock garden which is really fun. My all time biggest nightmare however was two seasons ago when I had to remove lily of the valley in an area about 20 x 20. Every speck of soil had to be hand sifted to get out all the pips. It ended up being two weeks of work and two pickup loads of foliage and pips!

I'm not getting too far on the Blotannical site... is there a resource for the ins and outs? I'm not finding it very intuitive... may just be me! Larry

Gatsbys Gardens said...

Hi Larry,

I am having a scale problem with the euyonmous. I hope I odon't have to pull it because as you stated it is difficult to get out.

I have been there with Lily of the Valley! Ajuga has grown into my grass at my previous house. However, in a contained area or with some of the newer varieties this is not as big of a problem.

This newer Blue Dart variety of vinca is much easier to control because it does not root by runners, grows from the middle. So far I am doing well with this one.

Blotanical is good to get started. The site is difficult to manage not always self-explanatory. Check out some local sites, like I belong to Chicago Gardeners and they post my blog. Check out, all gardening sites (little red gadget at top of my blog - click).


Anonymous said...

Dear Eileen, This is another informative posting drawing attention to the many benefits of good ground cover plants.

Sweet Woodruff is, for me, an all time favourite and thrives very well in part shade. As for Pachysandra, this is a delightful plant and one which, for reasons I am unable to tell, is not so widely grown in Great Britain. I am afraid that mine is just the ordinary P. terminalis, but delightful nonetheless.

Gatsbys Gardens said...

The "green sheen," is not widely available. I did order it online and it has done very well. It always looks wet which is very attractive in part shade.


Lona said...

Hi Eileen. I am another person that now stays away from vinca or myrtle. It is awful to get rid of if you decide to move it or change a bed out. Which I am famous for always moving stuff. LOL! It is good if you plan to leave it were it is and crowds out the weeds and evergreen.
I have a question about your Pachysandra. I had thought it would do in some shady areas I have. Is it invasive or easy to manage?
I may want to move it one day. LOL!

Gatsbys Gardens said...

The Vinca Blue dart is easier to manage because it does not root as it spreads. It leafs out from the middle of the plant. I trim it in the spring and it seems to do fine. It is a little difficult to plant through it, but once another plant is in it comes up without a problem.

My pachysandra "green sheen" is in a mostly shady spot (north side of house) little sun in pm. It is carefree, a little trim once in a while. My daughter has her pachysandra in quite a bit more sun and hers does fine.