Perennials forum: Perennial ground covers?

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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
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CarolineScott
Sep 3, 2012 8:39 AM CST
Next season I am planning to dig up two areas, and make some "natural" stairs.
I have creeping thyme seeds ready.
But what other perennials would work?
The stairs are not going to be used that often, so plants which are borderline steppable would work.
This is zone 3 so it needs to be cold hardy.
Name: Polly Kinsman
Hannibal, NY (Zone 6a)

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PollyK
Sep 3, 2012 8:53 AM CST
Hi Caroline!

My very, very favorites are the geraniums Biokovo and St. Ola. They spread well, and you can walk lightly on them. I think they would be hardy for you, but they like a little shade. What are your conditions?
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
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CarolineScott
Sep 3, 2012 2:38 PM CST
Both sets of "stairs" are in the shade.
I'll look for those geraniums. That would be neat and a change from thyme.
Name: jennifer
central nj (Zone 6b)
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flowersrjen
Sep 6, 2012 9:40 PM CST
This is an awesome site for finding all kinds of groundcover
http://www.stepables.com/default.asp

I love Creeping Jenny(Moneywort) Lysimachia nummularia
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
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CarolineScott
Sep 7, 2012 5:24 AM CST
Thank You for that site.
[Last edited by CarolineScott - Sep 7, 2012 5:24 AM (+)]
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Name: jennifer
central nj (Zone 6b)
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flowersrjen
Sep 7, 2012 7:53 AM CST
You're welcome
Name: Teresa
South central KY (Zone 6b)
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bluegrassmom
Nov 19, 2012 3:08 AM CST
Creeping Jenny would do well. I wish I could share with you. I pulled it up like a weed and then I saw on the container forum it looked nice draping over mixed pots.
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
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ge1836
Nov 19, 2012 5:25 AM CST
I am doing the same with the Creeping J I planted 5 years ago.
I do keep a small area for containers but It is a royal pain in the garden.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
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CarolineScott
Nov 19, 2012 10:22 AM CST
But it might be less of a pain in more northerly gardens.
Name: Jo Ann Gentle
Pittsford NY (Zone 6a)
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ge1836
Nov 19, 2012 10:28 AM CST
Checking your area and I would say Calgary is pretty cold.
Once it begins to spread here,it is impossible to pull out.
I have discovered this with Lamium maculatem.Its just horrible.
I have other Lamiums that behave themselves.Check Bluestone Perennials.
I have Golden Anniversery and White Nancy.They seem to be slower to expand.The maculatem has a silver chevron on a green leaf and purple flowers.
http://www.bluestoneperennials.com/search.html?mv_search_map...
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
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CarolineScott
Nov 19, 2012 10:41 AM CST
I have a few of the white Nancy. The golden anniversary one might be nice---
I'll look for it in the spring.
My favorite lamium is a cultivar "Anne Greenaway" which leaves are green on edges and gold in center.
It is well behaved too.
Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
Nov 19, 2012 11:03 AM CST
I know that creeping jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) can be very invasive in warmer zones from what's I've read, but I haven't found it to be a problem here after many years. It certainly adds a lot of colour when it is covered in bloom, and it blooms over a long period too. The golden variety ('Aurea') is less vigorous.
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
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CarolineScott
Nov 20, 2012 8:17 AM CST
Good to know! Thanks.
Name: Lori
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Plant Identifier
growitall
Nov 20, 2012 9:12 PM CST
You know, I have to admit I'd be cringing every time I stepped on my plants! Smiling (A few stepping stones, log slices, bark paths, etc. would make me feel better. Smiling It would allow using taller plants, that might otherwise get damaged quite a bit, too.)
Assuming you are looking for shorter plants...
Lysimachia nummularia (excuse the meter on the side of the house; I've never figured out how to hide the darn thing!):
Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/5d6f01 Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/a1e6e2

No doubt you've already considered Ajuga reptans? It's another that can get to be a pest in warmer zones but is a very useful and reasonably slow-spreading groundcover here.
There are a zillion cultivars but here is Ajuga reptans 'Valfredda', one that I like a lot:
Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/2b4958

The lower-growing Antennaria species (pussy-toes) can be very nice, and even the flowering stalks are only a few inches tall.
Antennaria umbrinella:
Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/50bfca Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/314230
Another Antennaria whose name I've lost, unfortunately:

Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/4a44b0 Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/86cf5a

Groundcover Veronica species would probably work well.
Veronica saturejoides; this is not a great example of Veronica whitleyi but it does nicely around here; a variety of V. repens(?) or similar whose cultivar name I've misplaced:
Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/2aa7a9 Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/2a9b75 Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/1309b3

Many thymes do well here, not just wooly thyme... and it does smell nice when the foliage is bruised!
Thymus neiceffii, in bud and in bloom; Thymus doerfleri; Thymus 'Pink Chintz:
Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/7c3467 Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/5c4d00 Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/2306fd Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/839160

Thymus minus - excellent for between stepping stones; Thymus serpyllum (x2) - a good late summer bloomer, love watching the bees enjoy this!
Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/18fb4d Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/52d44b Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/c24b67

How about Phlox subulata, of which there are many cultivars; also, Phlox stolonifera is low-growing with flower stems to about 8"... ?
Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/fc9418 Thumb of 2012-11-21/growitall/c14b08
[Last edited by growitall - Nov 21, 2012 7:49 PM (+)]
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Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Nov 21, 2012 5:38 AM CST
Wow! Thanks for the pictorial ideas.
I like the blue flowered Whitley's speedwell (Veronica).
But when I place it out near the street, it walks, and I am left with holes.
I shall come back to your pics in the spring.
I was planning to spread traction sand on each step, and then plant low growers on the sides.
I may need rail ties to hold steps from washing down.
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Nov 21, 2012 5:45 AM CST
Phlox subulata is tough enough to walk on without worry ... at least here (but I am in a different zone). I do like it a lot!

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Caroline Scott
Calgary (Zone 4a)
Charter ATP Member Region: Canadian Bulbs Winter Sowing Enjoys or suffers cold winters Lilies
Peonies Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Garden Ideas: Master Level
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CarolineScott
Nov 21, 2012 5:47 AM CST
That would work too!
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
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virginiarose
Nov 21, 2012 6:19 AM CST
I did not know you could walk through it. Good info. Thumbs up
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages Plant Identifier I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar
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SongofJoy
Nov 21, 2012 6:22 AM CST
The 'Scarlet Flame' variety even has a few blooms throughout the winter here.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: virginiarose
Virginia
Money talks but Chocolate Sings!
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Level 1 Avid Green Pages Reviewer Hibiscus Dragonflies Daylilies
Bee Lover Dahlias Butterflies Hostas Birds Lilies
virginiarose
Nov 21, 2012 6:44 AM CST
Wow, even better. nodding
Susan

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.....Margaret Atwood

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