Perennial ground covers are a welcome sight in my garden this week. My creeping phlox, (phlox subulata) is a flash of color I see out my kitchen window each morning. This hardy spring blooming perennial gives you carpets of tiny colorful flowers with semi-evergreen thin foliage. It comes in varieties of white, red, lavender, pink and a bluish color. Creeping phlox boast a long bloom time and fragrance. They are one of my go to perennials for the start of an all season garden. It has a moderate growth rate, can reach 4-6 inches high and can spread a good 2 feet or more with one plant. It will work in full sun and part shade.
Creeping phlox blends well with concurrent blooming perennial ground covers like my creeping myrtle (vinca minor) and snow in summer (cerastium tomentosum). The creeping myrtle is currently sporting its purple flower, while the snow in summer is hosting white flowers on a silvery gray foliage. The myrtle prefers a shade environment, while the snow in summer likes full sun. Both work in areas you want to reduce weeds and have plenty of room to spread. I like to use mine at the borders of my pond stream beds and walkway perimeters. They soften the landscape perimeters when using river blend stone in areas. Other great applications include rock walls and inclined areas to reduce erosion. They will tolerate some amount of foot traffic, so you can place them between foot path slabs.
All 3 of these spring blooming varieties are on my list of perennial ground covers with “CSS Attitude” (Common Sense and Sustainability). Not only are they a reliable performer, they attract early season pollinators to my gardens. Surround them with great organic mulch when you plant, well draining soil and the light requirements they prefer…and these will continue to offer texture and carpeting after bloom. Once established, I do cut back the thicker grey branches that have stopped producing to give way to softer, new growth. This will stimulate more blooms next spring. In addition to the organic mulch, I do recommend seasonal slow release organic fertilizer application. These spring blooming ground cover perennials are great compliments to later bloomers such as creeping thyme, creeping sedums and ajuga.
As always keeping common sense and sustainability the core of all my garden practices. Garden coaching in now underway for the season, call for an appointment. Summer in the Garden Workshop Series is coming Soon!