ajuga

Whitney Curtis

Three Go-To Groundcovers for Shade

I have three favorite “go-to” ground covers for my shady Atlanta garden. One of them I grabbed a handful of in my Mom’s garden on a visit home and brought it home in a ziploc baggie. The other two, I desperately I picked up at my local nursery when I needed something that said “full shade” on the label.

Pachysandra

One of the prettiest leaves, I love the shape and the little white leaves that pop up everywhere when it flowers. I have seen a few gardens that grow Pachysandra successfully in full sun, but they seem to do really well in my shady environment too.

favorite ground covers pachysandra

favorite ground covers pachysandra

Ajuga

I think the glossy leaves of the compact ajuga plant are really attractive. The dark green and even deep purple tones provide some great color and contrast. This is the one I grabbed a handful of, it spread easily and quickly into a large swath. Planted below with hydrangea and Solomon’s Seal, ferns, hostas and a few seedlings of perennial begonia.

ground covers ajuga

favorite ground covers ajuga

Variegated Vinca Vine

This is an easy vine option that I love in my containers. My vinca vine has spilled out of the containers and pretty much covered up the surrounding area. Isn’t that the best? One plant that grows into many!

favorite ground covers variegated vinca vine

favorite ground covers vinca vine

What are your favorite groundcovers for shade? What about for sun? I’d love to hear your suggestions!


Jane Miller

irrepressible blooms

I don’t know about you, but my patience has been tested this spring. Just when I thought winter had finally lost its grip, a freak snowstorm hit Iowa last week, leaving several inches of heavy, wet, white stuff in its wake. But we Midwesterners are resilient. And so too, it appears, are many of the blooms that were caught naked in the arctic blast. The fat lavender buds on my Jane magnolia, for example, were just beginning to open when temps plunged from 82 degrees one day to 32 the next. If the cold doesn’t finish them off, I figured, the wind and driving sleet will. Happily, I was proven wrong. My magnolia blooms are still intact and prettier than ever.

This isn’t the first year that early blooms have had their toughness tested. Spring’s mood swings happen so often that cool-season gardening has become, well, cool. We can resist planting tender geraniums and petunias until warm weather is here to stay if garden centers offer up a smorgasbord of irrepressible flowers. Here are several container recipes that I’ve tried that will flourish even if temperatures dip into the nippy range.

These pink pots set the tone for picking plants that show off the season’s hottest hues: soft shades of pink, purple, green, and gray. In the background pot: Helichrysum Icicles, English ivy, Osteospermum Soprano Light Purple, and Diascia Little Charmer. In the foreground pot: Diascia Little Charmer, Intensia Neon Pink phlox, Heucherella Stoplight, Armeria Rubrifolia, Osteospermum Soprano white, Snowstorm Giant Snowflake bacopa, Nemesia Compact Innocence, and Ajuga Catlin’s Giant.

The edible ingredients in this container salad garden are just too pretty to eat…for now, at least. Included in the mix: Pigeon Red kale, Esmeralda lettuce, chives, Ultima Baron Merlot pansy, and Sorbet violas.

This sky-blue planter brightens a gray day with these cheerful, chill-shrugging occupants: Sutera Blue Showers, Snowstorm Giant Snowflake bacopa, Bracteantha Sundaze Golden Beauty, Osteospermum Orange Symphony, Nemesia Compact Innocence, Trinitaria pansy, and Fire and Ice hosta.