Groundcover plants are a great answer to many problematic garden and landscape challenges. From uneven terrain to places where you cannot get other varieties to thrive, low-growing groundcover shrubs are a hassle-free choice. These hardworking plants are ideal for creating a statement in mass plantings and as natural tools to prevent erosion. Moreover, these shrubs require less weeding and mulching, making maintenance a snap.
When it comes to shrubs, it might be natural to consider only their easy-care characteristics, but the days of these hardy little plants simply being all green, garden workhorses are gone. Modern, high-performance shrub cultivars are more attractive than ever, providing a perfectly delightful answer to many landscape dilemmas.
Native plants are the definition of low maintenance. Because they grow naturally in North America, they thrive easily in cultural conditions from whence they came. However, this often also means these happy plants can get very large, as is the case with Aronia, otherwise known as chokeberry. Proven Winners® ColorChoice® has solved that issue with three selections of dwarf chokeberry. The first, and maybe the closest thing yet to a perfect landscape plant, is called Low Scape® Mound. Reaching heights of just 1-2' and 2' wide, it is ideal for low-maintenance mass plantings or edging. It offers full season appeal with dark green glossy foliage, loads of white flowers in spring, black summer fruit, and intense red foliage in autumn.
For those looking for the same performance but a little more height, Low Scape® Hedger reaches heights of 3-5' and is 2-3' wide, making it an ideal, carefree choice for low hedges and foundation plantings. Finally, the newest member of the chokeberry series, Ground Hug™, naturally grows as a thick, dense mat (8-14" tall by 3' wide) and is perfect for filling in difficult spaces such as slopes or anywhere mowing would be difficult or undesirable. All three have a wide hardiness zone, USDA 3-9, and are quick growers.
Another fantastic choice for low-growing, low-maintenance landscapes with full-season ornamental appeal is the Yuki® series of Deutzia. These graceful, low-spreading shrubs are neat and compact, topping out at 1-2' tall and about 2-3' wide. Yuki Snowflake® deutzia is an extra-heavy blooming variety with elegant white spring flowers that appear at the perfect time for spring gardens.
Even more unique and over 10 years in the making, Yuki Cherry Blossom® is the first-ever 'Nikko’-type deutzia with pink flowers. Its neat, mounded habit creates a shower of perfectly pink spring flowers with burgundy-purple fall foliage. Both varieties are hardy in USDA Zones 5-8, and both are tough, adaptable plants that make excellent groundcover, especially on a sunny slope.
If you seek dramatic, dark foliage as a backdrop for vibrant, colorful flowers, Spilled Wine® weigela shares the fabulous deep purple foliage and hot pink flowers of the classic Wine & Roses® but with a wide, low growing habit (2-3' tall and 3-4' wide), making it the perfect choice for edging beds or walkways and foundation plantings. Smaller still is the new Midnight Wine Shine™ weigela, topping out at just 1-1.5' tall and 2-2.5' wide. While its flowers are striking, the plant is grown for its attractive, dark glossy foliage and petite habit. Both are colorful choices for full sun sites that call for low, flowing mass plantings. These easy-care beauties are also deer resistant and very cold hardy, down to USDA Zone 4.
Two cultivars of Viburnum bring showy spring blooms on a habit that is no more wide than tall. Wabi-Sabi® viburnum has a unique, low-growing, strongly horizontal habit. It is ideal for planting on walls or in permanent planter boxes, as well as for planting at the front of beds or along walkways. In spring, branches are covered in large lacecap flowers, borne with the striking habit typical of doublefile viburnum. Wabi-Sabi® viburnum will mature to about 2-3' tall and 3-4' wide.
Finally, Lil' Ditty® witherod viburnum is one of the smallest on the market, measuring just 1-2' tall and wide. It is a puffball of creamy-white, fragrant flowers in late spring with glossy foliage that takes on good fall color. Both cultivars will thrive when planted in sun to part-sun with well-drained soil, and like all viburnums, they are deer resistant.
Low-growing ornamental shrubs are an easy-care, durable choice for gardens and home landscapes. For more information about these and a host of other beautiful and versatile Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs, visit MyProvenWinnersColorChoices.com.
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By Pamela Crawford, author, Easy Patio Veggies & Herbs
Photographs by Pamela Crawford
Pamela has written a great article about mixing herbs in containers. Herbs are natural companions with different textures for interest. The herb mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme offers lots of flavor from a small combination loaded with textural interest.
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