Friday, May 5, 2017

Battling it out on the edge

I have a tendency to cram too many plants into a space.  I dislike bare soil so I try to cover it, often using aggressive plants on the theory that, if they become too crowded, I can always thin them out.  But sometimes I just end up with a mess.  Here's a look at a group of ground covers growing at the edge of a walkway in the back garden:

This area along the walkway contains the following ground covers: Ajuga 'Mint Chip', Campanula portenschlagiana,  Erigeron karvinskianus, Euphorbia' Blue Lagoon', Liriope spicata and Persicaria capitata.  The Erigeron was self-planted.  The Euphorbia, Campanula and Persicaria, presumed dead during the drought, were resurrected by our winter rains.  The Liriope was a big mistake - I can't say I wasn't warned. 


I was only minimally successful in cleaning them up.

Much as I like its grass-like appearance, the Liriope probably needs to come out but it spreads by runners and removing it will require digging out the entire area.  If I don't talk myself out of that (again), I'll tackle that in the fall.


That's not the only area in the back garden that's a battleground.  On another front, Lotus berthelotii is fighting with creeping thyme.  Erigeron karvinskianus is duking it out with asparagus fern - and just about everything else in its path.  Cotula lineariloba is clambering over Gazanias and poking its way through daylily foliage.  And here's another battleground:

Phyla nodiflora (aka Lippia or frogfruit) is doing a pretty good job holding the line here but Erigeron karvinskianus (aka Santa Barbara or Mexican Daisy), Lobularia maritima (Sweet Alyssum), and Gaura lindheimeri, all self-planted, are putting up a fight.


Why can't they all get along?  A few do.

Plectranthus ciliatus 'Zulu Wonder' is peacefully cohabiting with Campanula portenschlagiana and Pelargonium peltatum 'Dark Burgundy'


While others cut loose and seek uncharted territory.

Seedlings of Lobelia erinus have escaped the pots the plant shares with blueberry shrubs to find a new home under the garden bench in the space between the patio pavers


Do your ground covers behave themselves?



All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. I like your ground covers. Yours look so lush! Mine seem to exist in 2 extremes: world domination or dead.

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    1. Our winter rains seem to have greatly benefited all the ground covers, Renee, but, like you, I have some that are overly ambitious. Lotus berthelotii and Cotula lineariloba are almost scary.

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  2. Wow, that last shot of the Lobelia erinus, certainly tells the tail! I do have a few battles going on around the garden, but I think our cold winter temperatures (especially this year) help to keep things in check more than your dreamy warm temperatures do.

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    1. Honestly, I think it was the drought that kept both weeds and aggressive ground covers in check in prior years. And we may get some rain again this weekend - utterly remarkable!

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  3. Here it is Plectranthus neochilus, Waterwise. Beautiful blue spikes of flowers. But ... I need to keep cutting back or it would eat the entire garden, then tackle the neighbours.

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    1. I have a variegated form of Plectranthus neochilus. It's probably doubled in size in the 12+ months I've had it in the ground so it spreads but at a sedate pace, luckily for me.

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  4. Well, it's a beautiful battle. The color of the Pelargonium is so luxuriously rich, and the Lobelia...can one ever have enough of that blue?

    The Dymondia got a bit enthusiastic here this winter, and the Dorycnium hirsutum has formed quite a puddle of grey-green, but I beat the Liriope out of here a few years ago. It's good to experiment, though!

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    1. That Lobelia is a rampant self-seeder here but it prefers pavement cracks to garden beds. I'm glad the Dorycnium has taken hold in your garden. Is it blooming yet? One of my clumps got ridiculously large and, eventually, ratty but it was easy to pull out and it left seedlings behind (but not too many). My Dymondia is STILL struggling.

      It was good to see you!

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  5. I think most of my garden is a battlefield, especially since embracing certain self-seeders, like Prunella vulgaris. For the most part, I like the combinations that plants come up with on their own, with just a bit of help from me. Some combinations just don't work, though, visually and/or because one plant overwhelms another. Lime thyme is a monster, here, and I'm still fending it off of some small plants it would devour.

    I just don't think Liriope is good for the West Coast, even the PNW unless you water a lot or have a spot that somehow stays moist in summer. Sources that say it's great for dry shade are referring to East Coast dry shade, where they get summer rainfall.

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    1. Liriope muscari seems to work fine here but L. spictata is a rampant spreader, even when it doesn't get a lot of water here. The area it's growing in receives regular irrigation, which is probably why it's pushed it boundaries.

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  6. I usually give my ground covers a much larger space to themselves so they can spread and thicken and cover the ground and stop the weeds.

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    1. I don't know how big your garden is, Christina, but it's always looked much more expansive than mine. Our lot is just over half an acre - large by Los Angeles standards but not as big as I'd like so I tend to crowd my plants much more than I should!

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  7. Honestly, I love your Lobelia in the cracks :) I figure that if a plant is vigorous enough to make a good ground cover, then it bears keeping a close eye on - not that I'm good at that. I'm having to hack back lantana fairly often, but as it is controlling the weeds (read, mallow), it's a welcome trade-off - for now! Though we have some plain orange/yellow lantanas that were already large when we moved in, and I dread cutting them back or cleaning them out. The Myoporum parvifolium I planted is spreading nicely but tamely - no complaints there!

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    1. Lantana is clearly happier in your climate than mine, Amy! I cut mine back to tidy it up but it isn't a robust spreader here. I have Myoporum too - it's a tough plant and does spread to impressive lengths but I've found it easy to manage too.

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  8. Ground covers NEVER behave themselves - that's why they are called ground covers! ;) Man, do they ever take over. Gill-over-the-ground and vinca drop roots at every joint and are nearly impossible to control. The advantage of frozen ground is that when it thaws at the end of the winter, there is a short window where these babies are a piece of cake to pull out. Sadly, that window is too short and I miss A LOT. Such is the gardening game.

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    1. I've always thought that a true winter (as opposed to what passes for winter here) offers a clean slate at the start of spring but, based on what you've said, I guess it's just a window of opportunity. I'd never heard of gill-over-the-ground and had to look it up - if it's present here at all, it's not vigorous. Dry soil does offer some advantages.

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  9. I always find it a challenge with edges, I don't know why. I think maybe it is better if, like yours, they fight each other and have to be thinned out, compared to needing to be coaxed to grow. They look nice when they look natural, and it seems really hard to make them look like that is where they belong. Interesting post, that I can really relate to. The lobelia in the pot and the escapees look gorgeous!

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    1. Fortunately, most of my rampant ground covers are relatively easy to corral or pull out, Sue. The exception is the Liriope, which spreads by runners and which could take me years to eradicate if I choose that path. The Lobelia escapees gave me a kick too!

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  10. Constantly cutting back thyme and creeping oregano, although I find the creeping oregano quite well behaved. Erigeron daisy. Love it but not when it gets lanky and blanket flowers just seem to want to blanket. Now if only lobelia would do what yours is doing.

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    1. I do constant battle with Erigeron karvinskianus myself, Jenny. Eradicating it is virtually impossible so I've made my peace with it and just mount regular campaigns to exert some measure of control. As to the Lobelia, I wish it'd spread that well in my garden beds - it really does prefer to plant itself in pavement cracks!

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  11. Ha ha, love the picture of the lobelia. I seem to have a lack of success growing ground covers except for pink showy primrose and a lot of my plants don't get along or behave themselves.

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    1. It seems the Lobelia particularly likes that spot under the bench, probably because it's less likely to be disturbed. I've yet to see it spread much in my flower beds but I find it in paving cracks all over the place!

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