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Friday Flowers: Spring Ground Covers

Posted Oct 22 2008 6:13pm
Trillium grandiflorum

This week has been cool and plant growth has slowed down a little. Spring bulbs are at their peak now and the flowering shrubs like Forsythia and Saucer Magnolia are providing colour. By next week the blossoms on the apple trees and other fruit trees should be spectacular in their display.

There are a number of more modest flowers that are beginning to provide patches of colour on the ground. Our soil is sandy and dry and does not support many of the more glamorous plants. We have planted a number of Sedums over the years and they never fail to flower even during the driest seasons.

Rock Cress

Rock Cress belongs to the mustard family. It does best in an infertile, gravelly, well-drained soil high in limestone, likes full sun and has scented white flowers that bloom in April. The plant above is blooming in my garden right now. My niece posted the picture below this week in her blog and asked for an ID.

False Rock Cress (Jaspenelle's picture)

I immediately thought it was Creeping Phlox, another spring blooming ground plant. But the Creeping Phlox flower has five petals, and when I looked closely at the picture, it was apparent that these blooms had four petals. This is False Rock Cress and it is also a member of the mustard family. It prefers moist soils and some shade and also blooms early in the spring.

Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

This is another purple flower that is blooming in my garden right now. Periwinkle, also known as Myrtle is an evergreen ground cover with five petalled purple flowers. It tolerates partial to full shade, normal, sandy or clay soils, average, dry or moist soils. I don't think there are many plants that versatile.

The first photograph is of a trillium in the bush at the end of our street. It is the ground cover of the woodlands this week. Last year I posted a picture of them as they carpeted the ground last May. The green in this flower is caused by a bacteria that affects some of the plants.

White-throated Sparrow in the mulch

Some areas of our yard, particularly under shrubs and trees support very little in the way of plant growth. Each year we cover the bare ground with more cedar mulch. I often throw some bird seed on top of the mulch and this year it has attracted a group of White-throated Sparrows who scratch the surface looking for seeds. It is so nice to hear their sweet song in the morning.

These spreading plants are so much easier to care for than annual flowers and their blooms and foliage can add interest to flowerbeds for the entire season.
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