ground cover for summer dormant bulbs

Jane McGary
Wed, 27 Jul 2005 09:27:56 PDT
Arnold wrote,
I have used Welsh Poppy ( meconopsis cambrica " Frances Perry") to
>cover a large area of  bulbs to include lycoris, tulips and some dwarf
>narcissus.  It doesn't seem to interfere with any early spring growth of
>these bulbs and the spikes of lycoris flowers punch right through
>without a problem.  My question to the group is what to use with the
>early summer growing foliage of colchicum's once the foliage dies back
>leaving the bar ground that John references.

Apparently Welsh poppy is not the pest on the Atlantic coast that it can be 
on the Pacific. It got into my garden hitch-hiking on a nursery plant as 
seeds, and I let it go, not knowing what the result would be. It's one of 
the worst weeds in the garden now, coming up everywhere -- even in the dry 
bulb frame! Here it's perennial and very hard to pull out completely, like 
a dandelion. It forms large clumps that can interfere with spring bulbs, in 
my opinion.

On a spring bulb bed here, I have the following at the moment: Shirley 
poppies which reseed (maybe too tall, and not a ground cover); tomatoes, 
which like similar conditions; the flat-growing biennial Campanula incurva; 
clumps of Nepeta mussinii. I've just added some of the newly marketed 
"Princess" alstroemeria hybrids, to see if any of them can survive our 
winters (I tend to doubt it, but even at up to $20 a large pot, they're 
worth a trial). Alstroemerias, if hardy, can be rampant growers, but their 
spreading rhizomes coexist with other plants.

Prostrate shrubs such as Arctostaphylos uva-ursi can also be grown with 
bulbs, or perhaps the most prostrate of the heathers, such as Calluna 
'White Lawn'. Some of the prostrate conifers are loose-growing enough to 
work in this regard; I have a prostrate pine through which bulbs and 
peonies emerge.

Jane McGary
Northwestern Oregon, USA

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