Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Weed Management : Ground Fillers

Some of my favourite flowers are perennials which form a sizable mound of foliage at their base. Not only are these attractive, but once established, are effective at blocking weeds.

My new garden still has much spacing between plants, but over the next few years, I plan for them to spread, so that by mid-summer, there is practically no soil showing, and little chance for weeds to propagate or survive. Here are some of my favourite "ground fillers" (weed-busters):

Osteospermum - Forms a wonderful mat of green, which self-roots as it spreads, and has such attractive flowers. Stays green all winter. Read more in my osteospermum post.

Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina) - Forms a wonderful fuzzy silver ground-cover, with spikes of purple flowers in the late summer which are not terribly attractive to me, but adored by bees. The leaves are great in dried flower arrangements, and looking remarkably like little lamb's ears, are loved by children (including older children like me!). The flower spikes can be cut down in the Fall, and the leaves remain relatively fresh-looking all winter.

Hardy Geranium - Although there are some varieties which tend to sprawl, there are many which form a neat mound of foliage, topped by delicate flowers. My favourite is the Geranium "Victor Reiter" for its stunning burgundy and deeply split leaves, and its mass of pretty flowers which form a purple cloud above the foliage. Many of these, including "Victor Reiter", die back during the winter, but re-establish fairly quickly in spring.

Lavender - There are many varieties of lavender, but all the ones I've encountered spread reliably to form a sizable clump, remain green throughout winter, are loved by bees, have such a wonderful fragrance, and the flowers are so useful for dried arrangements or even teas or desserts.

What are some of the "ground fillers" which are attractive weed-blockers in your garden? I'd love to hear about your favourites.

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