cottage garden groundcover - Knowledgebase Question

Carlsbad, Ca
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Question by surffam
August 27, 2010
I have a 20 x 10ft. flat area in full sun that sits in the middle of cottage perennial garden. it is outlined in native round rocks. i'd like to replace the coarse wood chips with g/c;maybe dichondra or moss? would like to know also use seed or flats? soil prep? and if my edging is fine or must use crummy looking plastic edgers? Cottage garden theme. Must walk on to tend, prime view from house.

Answer from NGA
August 27, 2010
I think your edging is just fine. If you use plastic edging it will detract from the overall cottage garden look. You might consider planting one or more of the following groundcovers. These are considered steppable, meaning they don't mind foot traffic.

Acaena saccaticupula "Blue Haze" This spreading groundcover with attractive, intricate pale blue-gray foliage looks good all year in mild climates. Cream flowers of this variety mature to dark brown colored spined fruit. Adds interest to beds and rock gardens, and is especially handsome spilling over retaining walls.

Acinos alpinus "Calamint" Extremely tough cushion forming plant. Light green leaves give this plant a great deal backdrop when itt gets covered with light purple flowers in the summer. This plant loves hot, dry weather and thrives on being ignored!

Arenaria balearica "Corsican Sandwort" Low, dense mats of moss-like foliage make an excellent ground cover for shady, damp areas. Dainty white flowers completely cover in spring.

Armeria "Victor Reiter" Tiny mounds of compact gray-green tufts with small flowers that are light pink in color and look like little pom-poms.

Cymbalaria aequitrilobia "Mini Kenilworth Ivy" Tiny, green kidney shaped leaves creep and hold tight to any rock or crevice. Dwarf purple flowers bloom continuously throughout the summer. Great look for courtyards and pathways. Perfect in shady locations.

Erigeron scopulinus "Sunny-side Up Fleabane" Very tight mats of deep green foliage make this an exceptional plant for pathways. Super tight to the ground and will bloom miniature white daisies with yellow centers that look like fried eggs. Will lose leaves in winter, but stems remain and make an interesting display on the ground.

There are many more possibilities so why not check with your local garden center to see what they offer? I'd prepare the soil by spreading 2-3 inches of compost over the top and digging it in about 4-5". You can purchase groundcovers in flats and then divide the flats into about 3 dozen plants. Space the plants 3-4" apart in a checkerboard pattern and they'll fill in the gaps within the first growing season. Enjoy your cottage garden!

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