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Native Ground Covers

Well adapted to our climate and soils, native plants are increasingly sought after for restoration purposes, more ecologically sensitive selections for properties bordering wild areas, and to create beautiful, low maintenance landscapes.

 

Sold in 4" (10 cm) pots unless otherwise stated. We currently grow: 
Anemone canadensis (Canada Anemone)
NEW! Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern Red Columbine) - photos & description coming
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry)
NEW! Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the Pulpit) - photos & description coming
Asarum canadense (Canadian Wild Ginger)
Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry)
Gaultheria procumbens (Wintergreen)
Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium)
NEW! Geum triforum (Prairie Smoke) - photos & description coming
NEW! Hepatica acultiloba (Sharp-Leaved Hepatica) - photos & description coming
NEW! Hydrophyllum virginianum (Virginia Waterleaf) - photos & description coming
Native Ferns, 8 species
NEW! Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple) - photos & description coming
NEW! Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot) - photos & description coming
NEW! Stylophorum diphyllum (Wood Poppy) - photos & description coming
Viola labradorica 'Purpurea' (Labrador Violet)
Companions for Native Ground Covers
 
Canada Anemone
Anemone canadensis

 

Also called windflower, meadow anemone, roundleaf anemone

Height         12-24 inches (30-60 cm)

Spread        24-48 inches (60-120 cm)

Flower         White

Blooming     Late spring - early summer

Hardiness    Zone 2-9 

Light           Sun to shade

Moisture      Moist to average, tolerates drought once established

Soil             Adaptable, tolerates heavy clay soils

 

This low maintenance native ground cover literally appeared on our doorstep. When we removed a dying American Elm near our potting shed, this plant sprung to life around the stump. We have come to appreciate its tenacity as a massing perennial for naturalized landscapes and bank edges; even within shady concrete beds in an urban landscape by itself or with grasses. It spreads vigorously by rhizomes to fill an area, and respectfully should not be mixed with more timid perennials. 

 

Recommendations for growing Canada Anemone

Canada anemone grows best in moist meadows, ravines and partially shaded woodland edges. It's colonizing tendency can be curtailed somewhat in darker shade, drier clay soils and root-barrier contained beds. Great for naturalizing, massing or mixing with other native meadow species or grasses. Provides habitat for pollinators; deer-resistant. Generally free from pests and disease, and can tolerate repeated mulching and salt spray. Water well during first year of establishment. 

Bearberry
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

 

Also called kinnikinick, manzita, bear's grape, uva-ursi

Height         6-8 inches (15-20 cm)

Spread        24-36 inches (60-90 cm)

Flower         White

Blooming     Late spring

Hardiness    Zone 1-7

Light           Full sun to light shade

Moisture      Average to dry

Soil             Well-drained, acidic 

 

An excellent broadleaf evergreen ground cover for informal medium to large scale landscape areas of rugged landscapes. Very hardy and drought tolerant once established. Well-suited to Ontario's cottage country where it can be found naturally, it thrives on rocky barrens, exposed gravelly slopes and amongst boulders in full sun or under light shade. Ornamental features include shiny cupped leaves, red fall colour, profusions of white flowers and red berries in fall. Slow to moderate growth rate.

 

Recommendations for growing Bearberry

Bearberry grows best on well-drained, sandy, gritty or gravelly soils, neutral to acidic, with minimal fertility. The biggest challenges to establishing bearberry is over-mulching, over-watering and over-fertilizing. Does not like high humidity, alkaline clay or compacted soils. Exposure and air circulation reduces humidity and limits any crown rot or leaf blotches. Otherwise free from pests and disease, and can tolerate salt spray. Maintenance of established patches may include mowing or trimming after bloom to keep patch thick and tidy.

Sold in 4" (10 cm pots) or 1 gallon.

 
Bunchberry
Cornus canadensis

 

Also called dwarf cornel, creeping dogwood

Height         4-8 inches (10-20 cm)

Spread        12-24 inches (30-60 cm) 

Flower         White

Blooming     Spring to summer

Hardiness    Zone 2-6

Light           Part shade to full shade

Moisture      Moist

Soil             Humus-rich, neutral to acidic 

 

A beautiful and unique species of dogwood, prevalent throughout Canada and the United States, from cool, moist woodlands to mountain ranges and sphaghnum bogs. This mat-forming stoloniferous species is deciduous, sending up distinctive dogwood leaves in spring, followed by white flowers (actually showy bracts) late spring to summer. If pollinated, clusters of vibrant red berries form against a beautiful backdrop of bronze-red fall colour. Ideal in smaller plantings under conifers, in combination with other native woodland species, rhododendrons, azaleas or ferns.

 

Recommendations for growing Bunchberry

Native woodland soils and conifer duff is a good medium for bunchberry. If garden soil is light-textured or gravelly, blend in compost and peat moss for moisture retention. Plant at soil surface and mulch thinly (1-2"); conifer needles make great mulch for this plant. Direct afternoon sun and wind exposure can burn leaves. Serious diseases are seldom encountered, occasionally suffers root rot and leaf spots in wet years. No ongoing maintenance needs required except watering during hot spells.

 
 
Wintergreen
Gaultheria procumbens

 

Also called winterberry, checkberry, teaberry

Height         4-6 inches (10-15 cm)

Spread        12 inches (30 cm) 

Flower         Light pink

Blooming     Spring

Hardiness    Zone 3-7

Light           Part shade to full shade

Moisture      Average to moist

Soil             Humus-rich, neutral to acidic

 

One of the most widespread, durable and pleasing native ground covers with outstanding ornamental characteristics. Thick, shiny evergreen foliage was once used to distill oil of wintergreen, and comes out in a multi-coloured spring flush. Small pinkish-white flowers are not always noticed but the large red berries are, and are sometimes offered as potted Christmas plants. Spreads slowly by underground stolons, and said to attract grouse and patridge to the garden. Combine with other acidophiles in the woodland garden for best effect. Will tolerate periodic drought.

 

Recommendations for growing Wintergreen

Native woodland soils and conifer duff is a good medium for wintergreen. Blend in peat moss and compost to light or alkaline soils and cultivate before planting. Plant at soil surface and mulch thinly (1-2"); conifer needles make great mulch for this plant. Direct afternoon sun and wind exposure can burn leaves. Serious diseases are seldom encountered, occasionally suffers root rot in wet years. No ongoing maintenance needs required except watering during hot spells.

 
Labrador Violet
Viola labradorica 'Purpurea'

 

Height         4-6 inches (10-15 cm)

Spread        8-12" inches (20-30 cm), and by seed 

Flower         Purple

Blooming     Spring to fall

Hardiness    Zone 3-8

Light           Sun to shade

Moisture      Average to dry

Soil             Adaptable

 

Although the name suggests otherwise, this species is widespread in Canada and the US, from the East Coast to Alaska, south to New Hampshire. Allan Armitage calls this "one of the best garden violets in the entire genus". This hardy and ornamental selection is notable for its attractive rich purple, heart-shaped leaves, welcome early spring flush of purple flowers, and adaptable nature to a variety of sites. Clumps spread outward by short stolons and also by an abundance of seeds. Well suited to naturalized landscapes, rock gardens, cracks and crevices of slopes, and worthy of attention for interplanting with ther smaller ground covers, ferns and beneath large trees. A much better choice than Viola odorata.

 

Recommendations for growing Labrador Violet

Of all the native plants in our repetoire, this is probably the easiest to grow. Performs its best with average moisture, average fertility and part shade, but seedlings will find their way to the most appropriate places. Foliage colour bleaches out in full sun. Low tolerance for extended periods of drought. Plant at soil surface and mulch with composted pine bark fines. If you do not wish to have to so many seedlings, shear spent flowers. Small seedlings are easy to weed or transplant if desired.

 
Companions for Native Ground Covers

With the variety of adaptations and possible landscape uses, contact us for appopropriate companions to suit your project. 

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