Ask a Question forum: What (if anything) would make a good evergreen carpet in a shady area?

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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
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Brinybay
Jun 2, 2015 1:00 PM CST
I wanted my landscaping project (see: The thread "2 questions: Weed with purple petals, what is it? How to get rid of Holly?" in Ask a Question forum) to be mostly "green" in the literal sense. I pictured a lush evergreen carpet that could take light or moderate traffic (just 2 of us here, my wife and I), be it moss or some other kind of ground cover. My first choice was Irish Moss, but it specifically says it's not good in shade. On the recommendation of a gardener at a local nursery (Molbaks) I bought some "Alpine Creeper", aka Kelsey Blue or Blue Star Creeper.

But after seeing this web posting http://tinyurl.com/o8wk4jj I'm wondering if I made the right choice. I'm also confused about the various Latin as well as common names for this plant. The link uses different Latin names than what's on the plant tag, but it looks and sounds like the same thing I got.

I can still use these in another area on our property, but it would take some time away from working on this particular project, or, thanks to ATP, I could try to sell or trade this stuff. I bought 12 containers of it (they were on sale). Pics below are of the tag from one of the containers, and the area I'm working on, taken at 9am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 5:30pm to show the size of the area (about 20ft by 40ft) and how much sunlight reaches this place on a sunny day. Most it gets is around noon-2pm


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Plant info on tag
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9am
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11:30am
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1:30pm
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5:30pm
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
[Last edited by Brinybay - Jun 7, 2015 11:37 AM (+)]
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Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 2, 2015 9:55 PM CST
I'm going to answer my own question. I found a web site that features evergreen moss. I want to base the entire design on this picture.

http://www.mossacres.com/photo_view.asp?id=46
Thumb of 2015-06-03/Brinybay/456414
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Zuzu
Northern California (Zone 9a)
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zuzu
Jun 3, 2015 11:55 AM CST

Plants Admin

That's a beautiful landscape to use as a basis for your own.

Even though you've answered your own question, you should know that the nursery has used the wrong genus and species name for your plant. Pratia no longer exists as a genus. The Pratia species have been reclassified as species of Lobelia. Pratia puberula is now a synonym for Lobelia benthamii, but I think your plant (Kelsey Blue) actually used to be classified as Pratia pedunculata, which is now a synonym for Lobelia pedunculata. I can't see the name Garden of Aaron is using because your link doesn't work for me.

If you're looking for other plants that thrive in the shade, especially dry shade, you might want to consider Epimediums.
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 5, 2015 1:33 PM CST
zuzu said:That's a beautiful landscape to use as a basis for your own.

Even though you've answered your own question, you should know that the nursery has used the wrong genus and species name for your plant. Pratia no longer exists as a genus. The Pratia species have been reclassified as species of Lobelia. Pratia puberula is now a synonym for Lobelia benthamii, but I think your plant (Kelsey Blue) actually used to be classified as Pratia pedunculata, which is now a synonym for Lobelia pedunculata. I can't see the name Garden of Aaron is using because your link doesn't work for me.

If you're looking for other plants that thrive in the shade, especially dry shade, you might want to consider Epimediums.


Thanks, fortunately I was able to return the what-ever-they-were and exchange them for some plants. I was getting too far ahead of myself on this project to think about ground cover anyway, or even if I'm going to use it at all.

"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 5, 2015 5:16 PM CST
Greg, when the time comes for some ground cover, I really like the evergreen vinca which has nice shiny dark green leaves, and also comes in a variegated form. It blooms in spring with small blue/lavender flowers (or there is a white) and also makes a stunning backdrop for daffs, tulips and other spring flowering bulbs which I'm sure this fall you'll be planting in that area.

You'd probably need to put some stepping stones through there for a dependable pathway although it does take foot traffic pretty well. It gets a little deep eventually for walking through.

I am originally from the Pac. NW and garden at my daughter's in Salt Lake City now, even though I do live in Florida. (where no vinca or daffs or tulips grow).
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 5, 2015 6:45 PM CST
I think I'm using "ground cover" in the wrong context. My wife and I both want something that is evergreen, and walkable, but it needs to like shade. Some sort of moss would fit the bill, but I have to research that, plus as I said, I'm getting ahead of myself.
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 5, 2015 7:50 PM CST
Mm, just thinking moss in an area that big would really take forever to 'cover'.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 6, 2015 9:28 AM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:Mm, just thinking moss in an area that big would really take forever to 'cover'.


Crossed my mind too. It's one bit of information I need to consider. Also need to consider things like the conditions of the environment it would be in, how much work would it take, and even if it would work, how soon do we want it, i.e. how patient are we? Fortunately I have time to research it, many other parts of the area I can work on in the mean time.
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
[Last edited by Brinybay - Jun 6, 2015 9:37 AM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
Jun 6, 2015 11:36 AM CST
Keep in mind that you 'miss' a growing season if you don't get things started. eg. you could start some small clumps of different kinds of groundcover in the back corners to see how well they establish and how you like them. Some things may work well, where others don't work at all.

Some perennials and groundcovers do well started in fall, though, but it depends upon how the weather is through the winter if they will develop nice big roots and jump up big and lusty in spring or not.

Don't know about your area, but in Utah where I've planted two gardens for my daughter, we saved a ton of money buying perennials in October when the nurseries will deeply discount things to reduce their inventory. Places like HD and Lowe's will completely clear out their nursery stock, so keep an eye out for that next fall, too. You can really score on evergreens, perennials, shrubs and small trees.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jun 6, 2015 11:56 AM CST
Won't pretend to know what will grow in your particular location and climate, but there is a site which sells plants that are step-able...in fact, that's the name of the site. There is lots of good information and many plants shown. No law against looking, right. Shrug! Whistling
http://www.stepables.com/

Keep up the good work. We are all looking forward to one day taking a virtual stroll in your garden, thanks. Thumbs up
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Skåne, Sweden (Zone 7b)
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William
Jun 6, 2015 2:03 PM CST
How lovely with a moss garden Smiling Certainly something that appeals to my eye.

If a more vigorous ground cover still is required I do agree on the Vinca minor. It grows even in dry shade and naturalises very well. I do not walk very much on mine, though.
Name: Danita
GA (Zone 7b)
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Danita
Jun 6, 2015 2:24 PM CST
I wonder if something like a stone and Dwarf Mondo Grass (or moss, or other small ground cover) path would suit the area and needs. You could flank it with short, non-walkable plants to get the lush green look, but still have a walkable space. Shrug!

This is the kind of look that I had in mind:
http://ww1.hdnux.com/photos/05/24/25/1394044/3/622x350.jpg

Smiling
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 6, 2015 6:08 PM CST
dyzzypyxxy said:Keep in mind that you 'miss' a growing season if you don't get things started. eg. you could start some small clumps of different kinds of groundcover in the back corners to see how well they establish and how you like them. Some things may work well, where others don't work at all.

Some perennials and groundcovers do well started in fall, though, but it depends upon how the weather is through the winter if they will develop nice big roots and jump up big and lusty in spring or not.

Don't know about your area, but in Utah where I've planted two gardens for my daughter, we saved a ton of money buying perennials in October when the nurseries will deeply discount things to reduce their inventory. Places like HD and Lowe's will completely clear out their nursery stock, so keep an eye out for that next fall, too. You can really score on evergreens, perennials, shrubs and small trees.


Funny you mention small "trial" areas, we were just talking about that. I may have to make a liar out of myself when I said in another thread I don't really plan. Clearing the area out was the easy part, now I may have to sit down and draw things out.

But first, we have to settle on how we want it to look. I was at a local wildlife shelter this morning to give them a small bird (Chestnut-backed Chickadee) we found injured. (I found it last night when I was strolling the plot I'm working on). They had a mini nature-walk that I really liked and I got to talking to the admissions specialist about what I was doing on our property. She said if I wanted to consider doing something like that, she recommended a book called "Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest" by Russell Link. I ordered a used copy from Amazon. Going "native" for wildlife instead of strictly ornamental would satisfy the "green" desire. It could also be a combination of the two (it would have to be, because I've already planted 8 non-native plants).

Thanks for the tip on waiting for clearance sales, I'm sure the nurseries up here do the same thing, however, by fall it's getting into the rainy season up here, not much fun to work in.

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http://youtu.be/r74yyftJvgc
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
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Bonehead
Jun 7, 2015 9:07 AM CST
There is good info on native plantings on the King County Extension website. Sorry don' t have the link but it is easy to search for. That area would look lovely as a native setting. Kudos.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Greg
Lake Forest Park, Washington (Zone 8b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Brinybay
Jun 7, 2015 10:35 AM CST
Danita said:I wonder if something like a stone and Dwarf Mondo Grass (or moss, or other small ground cover) path would suit the area and needs. You could flank it with short, non-walkable plants to get the lush green look, but still have a walkable space. Shrug!

This is the kind of look that I had in mind:
http://ww1.hdnux.com/photos/05/24/25/1394044/3/622x350.jpg

Smiling


Awesome! I showed it to Anita and we both like this example even better than the moss example I found earlier, since it more closely resembles the area I'm working on, a wooded setting, and looks much like the native plants we have in this area. Even has a pathway like we're planning on.
"Love the people who treat you right and forget the ones who don't." - Chiune Sugihara

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