I live in Riverside, California -- mid-way between Los Angeles and Palm
Springs -- where the summer temperatures often exceed 100 degrees.
I have a 30' by 20' garden containing about a dozen roses and other
shrubs. Years ago, I planted gazanias as a groundcover. For the first
few years, the gazanias looked great: luxurient growth with continuous
flowers and full-coverage. But, since then, the gazanias have become
unattactive: sparse, lanky and gangly growth with few flowers.
I'd like to replace the gazanias with a different groundcover that has
attactive foliage, that flowers more-or-less continuously and has
What are good candidates?
While there are evergreen groundcovers that will fill that area nicely,
there are few that are everflowering. According to my copy of Sunset's
"Western Garden Book", Riverside is borderline between zones 18 and 19.
In those zones, consider:
Persica capitata (pink clover). The leaves are somewhat colorful,
turning bright red (but remaining on the plant) with winter frosts. It
repeatedly has small, pale pink flowers resembling clover flowers.
Under the right conditions (especially with part shade in your area),
this can grow vigorously or even invasively.
Pontentilla neumanniana (cinqufoil). Dark green leaves. Occasional
small, bright yellow flowers. Resembles strawberries in its growth
pattern. Slower growing than P. capitata, but this too can become
Iberis sempervirens (candytuft). Not invasive at all with somewhat an
open pattern of growth. Very low but upright growth. Covered with tiny
white flowers in the spring and sometimes again in the summer or fall.
Instead of a ground cover, also consider Cuphea hyssopifolia (false
heather) planted close together to form a single mass. This is an
evergreen subshrub, growing only a foot high. Mine are covered with
flowers all year long. I have scattered plants of this with white
flowers and a mass planting with dark pink (almost purple) flowers. One
year, frost burned some of these. On a single plant, half was obviously
burned; but the other half continued to bloom through the winter.
You might also consider mixing two or more of the above. My mass
planting of C. hyssopifolia has both P. capitata and P. neumanniana
growing through it. In one area of my garden, P. neumanniana is growing
under my I. sempervirens.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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