Fresh start with garden groundcovers
While working in the garden during these wintry days, it becomes evident that there are some positions in the garden that need attention.
Many of these positions require a low planting because some plants are not receiving the light that they require because of the growth of surrounding shrubs. Some positions need a plant just to cover the surface of the garden.
Groundcover plants are useful and attractive as low borders that frame a lawn area and provide a happy transition from grass to garden.
Their use around trees and shrubs is an interesting substitute for rock, stone or bark mulch. Many of these plants are practical tools in controlling or eliminating erosion of embankments and terraces, while simplifying their upkeep by avoiding the need for mowing of steep or irregular surfaces.
With a little careful selection, there are quite a number of plants that flourish in these less than ideal conditions and from an aesthetic standpoint alone, well-planned groundcover areas add interest and variety to the landscape.
The following groundcovers all have specialised features to enable the plants to grow in those difficult positions in the garden. Some are able to be successfully grown in gardens of the coast or in the hot dry inland areas of Central Queensland.
Bauhinia corymbosa is an evergreen groundcover or climber with small leaves and large clusters of pale pink flowers. It is a hardy groundcover that will cover a large area that is ideal for trailing over rocks or retainer walls.
Brachycombe multifida or Hawksbury River Daisy is one of my favourite little native daisies. It will only cover about a metre square, and is perfect as a garden edging plant, or positioned near landscape features such as old logs or rocks. Flowers are a delicate mauve daisy-type flower, with yellow centres.
Carpobrotus glaucescens or Pigface is one of the prettiest flowering native groundcovers, bearing pink to mauve-shaded flowers that can be 4-6cm in diameter during spring and summer. It has large succulent leaves and a dense habit, this plant is perfect for positioning on dry well-drained slopes and is also one of the easiest native groundcovers to propagate from cuttings.
Eremophila glabra kalbarri carpet has attractive silvery-grey foliage and striking yellow fuschia-like flowers. This groundcover will grow to approximately 1.5m across, and will become a feature in any water-wise garden.
Erigeron karvinskianus or Seaside Daisy is a hardy groundcover that produces a mass of small open-faced white daisy type flowers with a yellow centre. It flowers most of the year in warm sunny positions. It can be invasive and need to be checked periodically, as it is a very fast grower.
Evolvulus pilosus or Blue Eyes is a popular species for roadside and other landscaping because of its toughness. It produces prolific quantities of blue flowers, and there is also a white-flowering form. It needs to be cut well back from time to time so as to keep it looking fresh, compact and healthy.
Helichrysum ramosissimum or Yellow Buttons is a hardy groundcover with grey-green foliage and masses of yellow, ball shaped flowers about a centimetre across. This is a very hardy ground cover for well-drained positions, but it will not grow well in clay soils.
Lampranthus aureus or Pigface is a dense low growing ground cover perfect for rock gardens on steep slopes or embankments. The vibrant flowers come in various colour shades of orange, pink, red, white, yellow or bicoloured varieties. The flowers will open in the morning and close in the late afternoon.
Scaevola aemula or Fairy Fan-flower is an extremely vigorous ground-cover with dense foliage. This groundcover will have small one sided fan-shaped mauve flowers for most of the year which will contrast well with the dark green foliage, and you should expect it to cover about two square metres. The Fairy Fan Flower is one of those native plants immortalised by May Gibbs classic of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.
Scutellaria ventenatii would be one of the most striking groundcover you could plant in your garden. This small clumping plant has glossy green foliage and spikes of crimson tubular flowers. It prefers a sunny or part shade well-drained position and is ideal as a rockery or tub plant.
While many of these plants may not be available all year round in most local nurseries, they should be able to be ordered from specialist nurseries for your spring garden.