ground cover for summer dormant bulbs

Boyce Tankersley
Wed, 27 Jul 2005 07:46:21 PDT
Tricyrtis make a nice companion plant for the woodland spring bulbs - it comes up relatively late. Ditto many of the Arisaemas. Hostas and the early Corydalis happily co-exist - to my surprise. 

I grow some dwarf conifers and prune them to keep them low enough to let the spring bulbs come through. Phlox subulata, the old standby, still serves well as does Cerastium tomentosum in the hotter, drier beds. Many of the midwestern prairie species come up relatively late and will be in flower from midsummer to fall.

Liriope spicata is a bit too aggressive but Ophiopogon works well in slightly warmer climates.

Boyce Tankersley

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2005 1:31 AM
To: Alpine-L, the Electronic Rock Garden Society; postings copyright by
Cc: Pacific Bulb Society
Subject: [pbs] ground cover for summer dormant bulbs

Every year, about this time, I am vexed by the sight of bare soil where the
spring bulbs have gone dormant. I hate bare soil as it seems such a wasted
opportunity to be growing something, so I am looking for plants to form a
low carpet over these areas. Ideally these should be perennial, need no care
or supplementary water, form a mat over the area, but not offer any
resistance to an emerging shoot, or any competition to the growing bulbs
that are the most important occupants of the space.

Certain Sedums are suitable, and in a rock garden setting there would be
many options from the genus, but the areas I need to cover are in a
'woodland' garden with shade for part of the day. Yesterday, taking
advantage of moistish ground and the forecast of two or three days of wet
weather (yippee!) I put out some plants of Pratia pedunculata and Leptinella
(Cotula) 'Platt's Black' over snowdrop patches. Last year I used a rather
good bright green Leptinella that I had from Wayne Roderick (any suggestions
for identification would be welcome!). It has tolerated the conditions quite
well, but for some obscure reason I only planted it in areas where there is
only a narrow fringe of 'bare' ground between thick herbaceous plants and
the edge of the bed. In other areas there are several square feet of bare
ground to cover in the case of the bigger patches of snowdrops, so some
vigour is needed.

I should be very interested to hear what other people use or could suggest.

John Grimshaw

Dr John M. Grimshaw
Garden Manager, Colesbourne Gardens

Sycamore Cottage
Nr Cheltenham
Gloucestershire GL53 9NP


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