Groundcovers are low growing perennials and craw along the ground, sometimes rooting down and spreading to cover bare soil. They can become a noxious weed if left unchecked which is why there are only a select few used in modern landscape designing. The ones chosen by designers are much slower growing, have great benefits, and easy to grow in many different settings. The ones I will discuss today are a few I have experience using in landscapes, they have exceptional qualities and great hardiness for our unpredictable climate and are all evergreen to promote winter interest.
My first evergreen groundcover is Vinca, or commonly known as Periwinkle. This plant, as the name suggests, has periwinkle colored five petaled flowers that bloom in early summer. The foliage is usually a dark green oval-shaped broadleaf, but some variegated varieties like ‘Illumination’ bring a golden yellow highlight to the groundcover for even better striking contrast. The Vinca spreads along the ground in long winding vines and can cover bare ground under dense trees and shrubs where grass does poorly. Vinca, like others I will talk about, is effective holding slopes and preventing erosion in shady locations where bare soil may wash away.
If you have a wet shady area that just nothing grows in, then look no further than Pachysandra. This versatile evergreen will establish well and create a colony to cover any ground it can find. This perennial is slower growing than the others, but like the tortoise, its slow and steady reaching almost a foot tall and spreading as far as it can. Once established small white flowers will grow from the centers of foliage during the spring. These flowers give way to new light green foliage than turns dark with age. I use pachysandra if the conditions are a bit too wet for Vinca, and if you want just a little bit of height to get over the leaves and mulch under the shade of a tree.
My last ground cover I’ll discuss today is Ajuga. The ‘Black Scallop’ variety is my favorite and one I have used frequently to create a bright colorful corner to an otherwise shady dark location. These versatile perennials have thick glossy maroon leaves and bloom early summer with majestic blue flowers on spikes above the plant. Once winter sets in, the taller foliage may degrade but basal foliage will remain untouched and maintain color until spring comes around again. Like the other groundcovers, they like some shade but are much more tolerant of sun. Planting even in the full sun can be possible as long as it’s also well-watered.