Friday, August 26, 2011

Best Groundcover, August 2011

Since it's been so very hot here, I thought it would be fun to give a 'heat award' to the plants that are taking our temperatures in stride.

Apple Blossom Flower Carpet Rose won in the rose category.

Pavonia won in the perennial category.

The last category is the ground cover category.  I must say when I started really looking at my ground covers, I was quite surprised.  These were the hardest hit of any grouping of plant in my garden.  Perhaps it's because ground covers generally spread, so their roots are shallow.  They rely on more moisture in the soil since their roots don't go deep.  And the heat that bakes the soil also bakes their shallow roots.

And of course, the ground covers that are in full sun are in much worse shape than the ones in some shade.  Even if they are supposed to be able to take full sun.

It's so bad that even my asian jasmine is scorched and parts are dead!  Anyone in Texas will tell you, nothing kills asian jasmine!

So, I was quite surprised when I realized that Lamb's Ear (stachys) is the best looking ground cover in my garden!  Yes, I know what you're thinking.  It has always dried up and burned a bit for me in years past.  It has been a plant that I always considered to be a bit unhappy in the heat.  A plant that I really was pushing too hard to make it through our summers.

So why is it looking so good now?  I have a theory.  It think it all has to do with water.

You see, I don't usually water my plants very often.  I let Mother Nature take care of that.  But this year, Mother Nature is not doing her part.  So I had to take up the slack.  And I think this has been the only year that lamb's ear has been watered enough to pull though our heat without dropping dead.

I'll have to remember that next year.

I'm truly amazed how well it's looking.  It may be a fluke, but it's a nice fluke.  Surprisingly, the best ground cover award for August 2011 goes to... Lamb's ear.


  1. I really like Lamb's Ear without the flowers. :) For me what works great are my Sedums. Yours has really held up there and is still looking great and I know it's bad down there this summer.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. I was reading Neil Sperry's E-newsletter and he was talking about Asian Jasmine dying around town and I was shocked -- sorry, but yea, there is finally something that kills that stuff! Not a fan, as you can tell. And the Lamb's Ear, amazing! I have some that I transplanted this year that is doing fantastic, and my old established plantings look like death, if there is anything left to them at all. I see that you have them planted next to what appear to be Knock-Outs. That happens to be one of my favorite combinations :-) My best ground cover this year is Katie's Ruellia. I wish it were evergreen.

  3. I don't know Asian Jasmine at all. But Lambs Lugs grows very well for us here in the cool of Scotland so I would say that these photos show just what an achievement it is for it to look so good in Texas.

  4. Holley, indeed your lamb's ears look happy and healthy and not at all sun scorched! I am very surprised by that! I have a patch of lamb's ears planted in a half circle around a column with a gazing ball and they have many brown dried up leaves and look down right ugly right now. Maybe I just should try to hand water them diligently and see what happens, if they perk up that would be one more evidence for your water theory ;-)!

  5. Jennifer@threedogsinagarden
    I used to have some lamb's ear but it has disappeared mysteriously. It is definitely I plant I would like to add back in.
    P.S. I really like that white apple blossom carpet rose. I will have to try to remember it for next summer.

  6. I like Lamb's ears but don't think they like it down here. They sure look wonderful in your gardens. I love the velvety look and grey-green color of them.


  7. Cher - Some of my sedums are doing well, but some died before I started watering. I hadn't thought of using sedums as a ground cover, though. That would be pretty.

    Toni - Isn't it amazing that something -anything- will kill asian jasmine? I have just a little. It's a love/hate thing. :) Yes, I have lamb's ear in front of some knockouts. Both very easy care - my gardening prerequisite!

    Janet - I bet they are very happy in Scotland. It's amazing to me all the different zones some plants can live in, and happily!

    Christina - These are also in some shade, which may make a difference. Please do give yours some extra water - I would love to know if that makes them happy!

    Jennifer - I have always had lamb's ear in my garden. For some reason, I just love its soft furry leaves. I hope the carpet rose does well for you. Remember apple blossom is usually pink!

    Flower Lady - Mine usually don't look so good. I thought it was because it's so hot here. But when I looked it up, it is supposed to be hardy to zone 10B. Maybe you could give it a try - just be sure to give it enough water to make it happy!

  8. I have been enjoying your heat "awards" ceremonies and have taken notes about the winners in the rose and perennial categories. They definitely sound like winners. I have lambs ear growing in the shade and some years it looks better than others. I cut it way back this spring and that seemed to help. Looking forward to your vines and annuals winners!

  9. I have always loved the look of Lamb's Ears. That grey-green color and it's texture is amazing. Unfortunately up here - those babies will travel like nobody's business. Like ground-cover Sedum, you have to watch 'em like a hawk! (I compensate with 'better behaved' Cheddar Pinks and Artemisia for the awesome color!)

  10. It looks so beautiful! I always grow it because of its drought tolerant nature, but this is nice to know.

  11. dorothy - Thanks so much for saying you've been enjoying the 'awards'. I don't grow many annuals - I don't like to have to replace them every year - but I will say I've been impressed with vinca, and most of my clematis have died due to the heat and/or drought, but I've been eyeing trumpet vine in the woods, which is amazingly still going strong!

    Shyrlene - I'd heard that they could be invasive, but that just doesn't happen here. I do love pinks, and almost gave it the award, but it's the favorite of the armadillos, so not many of those left here!

    Sage Butterfly - I always thought it was drought tolerant, too, but it obviously likes more water than I had previously been giving it! I'm always learning something in the garden!

  12. Lovely lambs ear! I've killed two in the same spot. Ding, ding, ding!! Move it!

  13. Your Lamb's Ears look amazingly fresh! I've grown them here before, but they really do need water. They were always my first plants to droop when I hadn't watered in a while.

  14. Hi Hollye,
    Nice post. Aren't you going to get better rain chances since we are? I always think that you guys will get the rain before we do. I hope so.
    We have a 40% chance next Friday.
    The Lamb's ear reminds me of another unusual ground cover that I thought would die....Dusty Miller and Rue (Artemesias). Both are also silver. I wonder if the silver/ gray plants reflect extra light & heat and thus stay cooler. My best ground cover is that native sedge that seems undaunted by extremes. I'm also going to try Mexican feather grass next (Stipa) It is from the mountains in West Texas. I love your roses. So beautiful.
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston :-)

  15. Cynthia - I have some plants like that. I really want that particular plant in that particular spot! Guess I should just realize that I'm not going to win!

    Stacy - Obviously they need more water than I realized in years past. Now that I've found their secret, I'll probably put them in many more places in my garden!

    David - I hope we are going to get some rain soon. I haven't seen the weather the last few nights, so I don't know what's likely to happen. The weather channel's website is never reliable long term (longer than 3 days out) I've noticed. I hope you get your rain, and maybe it will make its way up here. I have both dusty miller and artemesia. I love that silver/grey accent in the garden. You may be right about the light reflecting off them!

  16. Your new header photo is lovely. Is the pink flower the pavonia?

    I have lamb's ear in one spot in the front that I've ignored most of the summer. The only thing I did to it was clip the spent blossom spikes. I never really thought of it being a ground cover but that's definitely what its doing where it is. may have to consider some other spots for it.

  17. Marcia - Yes, the pink flower is pavonia. Please read my Best Perennial post on it. I do love it, as it's so reliable. And I love lamb's ear as a groundcover, because even if it get out of hand, it's easy to pull up and keep in check.


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