Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Pacific Northwest
April, 2001
Regional Report

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Periwinkle is an evergreen ground cover that blooms sporadically throughout the year. Its flowers are an especially welcome sight in early spring.

Spring Green

Our plot of land has far too much lawn for my taste. I like lawns in moderation. So over the years I've acquired an impressive array of plants suitable for use as ground covers and tucked them into strategically placed corners of the lawn where they can stretch out comfortably.

Turfgrass Alternatives

My ground covers have helped me quietly reclaim the yard one square foot at a time. Each one produces a sea of color in its own specific season and grows low enough to allow occasional foot traffic. In bloom at the moment are carpet bugle (Ajuga reptans), with 8-inch spikes of purple-blue flowers, the shocking pink of 'Pink Panda' strawberry (Fragaria 'Pink Panda'), and periwinkle (Vinca minor), with delicate purple petals surrounding barely visible white stars. 'Pink Panda' is really a cross between a strawberry and a potentilla, but it does produce edible, if pulpy, fruit.

Organic Lawn Solutions

For the lawn that remains, I try to treat it organically whenever possible. This year I'm trying a new organic weed-and-feed product made from corn gluten meal, a by-product of the corn milling process. The protein in corn gluten meal suppresses weed seed germination, inhibits root development, and contains 10 percent nitrogen by weight. It sounds like a winning combination. The only possible drawback is that its effectiveness may be reduced by excessive moisture and microbial soil activity. So much for healthy soil brimming with good microbes. I can't promise dry weather, either. Still, I think it's worth a try.

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