Not all ground cover plants are suitable for small spaces such as narrow beds bordering paths or entrances to houses. In small, intimate spaces, the plants chosen should be visually delicate, of fine leaf texture, and soft to the touch. Here is a group of such plants that not only fit the bill individually, but combine together beautifully to make a very satisfying garden composition.
*Lotus berthelotii (Parrot’s Beak) is very low growing, with extremely fine, soft, silvery foliage and striking thin, red flowers. A similar species, L .malculatus has a variety called “Gold Flash”, named after its orange/yellow blooms. Lotus can cover about 70 cm (2ft) and so is suitable in places where spilling over on to the path is acceptable.
*Dichondra argentea is also silver in color, but while its foliage is delicate in form and texture, the small leaves are round in shape. This creates a gentle contrast with Parrot’s Beak. One should be clear as to which species should numerically dominate the other, for to plant them in equal numbers would be mistaken in my view. Considering that Lotus degenerates where there is poor drainage, it might be safer to bank more on the Dichondra, using the Lotus in small splashes.
*Erodium reichardii (Cranesbill) has even smaller leaves than Dichondra argentea, but the mounding, cushion shape of the plant enhances the roundish motif. Reaching about 15 cm in height, its leaves are a pale green in color, while tiny blooms smother the plant throughout the year. One can choose between white or pink flowers; the later while being delightful in themselves, do not necessarily go well with the “hot” colors of the Lotus. The white flowering varieties are probably a better choice in such circumstances.
The three species have similar growing requirements in common. All can be grown in full sun, although the Cranesbill prefers light shade in hot locations. Lotus berthelotti on the other hand, needs full sun in order to flower, but can look excellent as ground-covering foliage plant in light shade. The soil should be well prepared before planting, with plenty of compost and other organic amendments. Good drainage is essential, especially for the Lotus. A watering regime therefore, should avoid permanently moist, soil conditions. It is best to allow the topsoil to dry out to some extent between waterings.
As prostrate plants, these species will be most effective when combined with a few plants that provide a vertical accent. The latter themselves ought to be very low growing and visually, have a light, delicate texture. Excellent examples would include Festuca, Liriope, and Ophiopogen. Similarly, some of the shrubs and bushes chosen for neighboring beds, could also possess feathery leaves, in order to create a link with the ground covers.
Source by Jonathan Ya’akobi