About Thyme and Other Groundcover News

As many of you faithful readers know, 2020 at Wellfield Botanic Gardens is being celebrated as 季節 Kisetsu: The Year of the Island Garden 2020. Our Island Garden opened to the public when we did on May 22, 2020. And now it even has its own webpage!

One of the great features of Wellfield’s newly opened Island Garden is the vast use of groundcovers. Japanese garden plant compositions are all about texture and form and less about color. We wanted to accentuate the ground plane and topography as much as possible while contrasting the heights and forms of the trees and shrubs. Groundcovers were selected for their toughness (it’s a dry, gravelly, largely sunny site), form, with a preference for evergreen leaves and seasonal color such as spring/summer flowers or fall color. The seven groundcovers chosen include:

  • Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Carpet’, Pachysandra
  • Carex pensylvanica, oak sedge
  • Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’, flowering thyme
  • Herniaria glabra, rupturewort
  • Asarum canadense, American ginger
  • Liriope muscari ‘Big Blue’, lily turf
  • Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, plumbago

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The evergreen, fast growing thyme and rupturewort resemble moss in their effects, while native ginger and oak sedge provide interesting and contrasting textures. Plumbago is one of my absolute favorites, producing royal blue flowers in summer and wonderful red fall color. It is one of the best groundcovers for full sun, in my opinion. Liriope is just a workhorse. It grows in light shade or full sun, with a bonus of blue flowers to boot.

I believe the design provides a good balance between the Japanese tendency toward simplicity while still providing some visual interest. Plan your visit now to see this beautiful new addition for yourself!

Josh Steffen, Horticulture and Facilities Manager


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