ground cover for summer dormant bulbs

Brook Klehm
Wed, 27 Jul 2005 20:08:39 PDT
Since I'm a gardener and plant collector rather than a bulb collector, 
per sae, bulbs have to fit into a broader scheme for the garden.  
Groundcovers function as a carpet to hold the garden/plant collection 
together in an attempt to make it look like a garden rather than a 

On the subject of covering Colchicums, Acaena microphylla seems to 
function very well.  It tends to die back a bit in the spring from 
crowding from the Colchicum foliage, but it returns with vigor after 
the foliage dies back.  Acaenas have the annoying characteristic of 
spreading far and wide, though I have not (yet) been sorry I planted 
them.  They seem to thrive in sun or light shade and thrive despite 
occasional dry soil.

I've planted Vinca minor varieties as a floor for various parts of the 
garden.  I am rather sorry to have planted it due to its rampant 
nature.  Still, it covers Hyacinthella (Endymion or Scilla hispanica or 
whatever...) without much trouble to either.

I use the California native strawberry, Fragaria californica, in the 
shady part of my front garden.  While it appeared to be quite 
rambunctious the first season after planting, now, after 5 or 6 years 
it cohabitates well with Anomatheca laxa, Cyclamen coum and Cyclamen 
hederifolium, and Narcissus 'Thalia'.  Another native, Whippleya 
modesta, a tiny relative of Philadelphus, seems to be loose enough to 
permit healthy bulb growth while competing with tree roots though it 
doesn't currently cover any bulbs.

I have a "Hell Bed" outside the boundary fence which has several corms 
of Cyclamen trochopteranthum that are covered by Origanum microphyllum. 
  They seem to cohabitate comfortably.    The oregano is thin enough to 
permit the soil to dry out but is highly ornamental in the summer and 
fall.  It self sows around a bit.

I've always thought that a couple Midwestern natives, Oenothera 
macrocarpa (O. missouriensis) and Coreopsis verticillata selections 
would make excellent bulb companions since they start their growth 
later in the season.  I've never tried them with bulbs, however.

Brook Klehm
Sebastopol, California, USA  where we've barely gotten hot this season 
(so far...)

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