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Two useful and attractive groundcovers

By Lawrie Smith AM

In southeast Queensland successfully growing small dense ground covering plants can be a hit and miss situation. However here are two groundcovers that have proved to be useful and attractive.

The value of groundcovers

In southeast Queensland successfully growing small dense ground covering plants can be a hit and miss situation, due to the climatic extremes between seasons. These two species have proven to be extremely hardy in my garden, and both offer very attractive and easily manageable characteristics as garden fillers or edging specimens.

Best of all they are perennial and naturally reproduce to create layers of dense foliage which insulate the ground from hot summer sun and so conserve moisture. Both offer attractive displays of massed yellow flowers held above the foliage to compliment any garden setting.

Bulbine bulbosa (Rock lily)

Bulbine bulbosa grows slowly laterally to provide a very dense mass of upright, fleshy, tubular, succulent like, grey green leaves, which inhibit any weeds. The foliage remains attractive throughout the year, with best colour in part shade; in full sun leaves become more yellow green. Does not mind dryish conditions but keep moist in hot summer.

The dense clustered yellow flowers display at top of tall stems and persist over a long period from spring, the only maintenance required is removing the spikes after flowering. It is easily propagated or transplanted, from the tuber like rooted stems. A really invaluable garden plant that lends itself to several design uses.

 Leiocarpa brevicompta (Plains Plover Daisy, Flat Billy Buttons)

This small herbaceous perennial typically has a tangle of much branched wiry stems, supporting blue-grey, felty, twisted leaves. These provide a smoky background in contrast with the prolific small golden-yellow button flowers, displayed terminally above the foliage for most of the year. This is a very suitable plant to establish in drifts through the garden, to cover and shade open areas, to conserve moisture, as well as complimenting the garden aesthetic.

Fortunately, this is one of those plants that is easy to propagate from cuttings and will also self-seed.  It is very easy to maintain by occasional clipping to encourage more leaf growth and maximise flowering. Loves dry conditions and full sun, to mirror its natural habitat west of the great divide in Queensland, NSW and South Australia.

So, there you have two useful and attractive groundcovers for your subtropical garden. Why not try them now?

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