TODAY A NOTE about ground cover plants and then a further word on daylilies.
Bare earth bothers me because nature leaves nothing bare that will support life. Often I have reflected this is why men worry about baldness. In any case, ground in the garden that is not planted solid with ornamental plants will soon be solid with weeds, so the point is to cover the ground.
Unfortunately, many gardeners have neither time nor energy to carry on like a fire engine, roaring about tending to one thing another all through July and August, and for them ground cover plants are the answer.
Also, there are manu places is which one wants the calm effect of a large reass of one sort of plant. Often under trees, where grass will not flourish, the Japanese pachysandra makes a rich dark glossy evergreen cover, requiring hardly an maintainance and giving a neat and finished appearence to earth that would otherwise be sparsely furnished with a few struggling weeds.
The copmmon ivy, and its endless varieties, is a beutiful ground cover, though it should be clipped over every year or two so it does not get too dense. When rank, it is susceptible to bacterial leaf blight, and it then loses its leaves, but if the gardener is oatient (or even if he is no) it soon revives and sends out new growth.
Often one does not want a dense solid cover like ivy or pachysandra, however, but clumps of foliage strong enough to take care of themselves under trees, with open spaces left for such spring flowers as Spanish scillas and the tougher sorts of daffodil.
The barrenworts, or epimediums, are very good. The common yellow one has foliage good all the year, as handsome as a maidenhar fern, almost, but its root is though and it will hold on even in a woodland laced with tree roots.
The plantain lilies or hostas are not quite as fond of dense shade as most gardeners think, and flourish best in a rich border shaded a bit from full sun. But under thick woodland conditions the hostas will grow if the gardener can devise some way of keeping them supplied with water. The huge-leaf one usually called H. subcordata grandiflora with ribbed leaves the size of canteloupes is good along a shaddy walk if well treated. If left to struggle without coddling, its great leaves are small as a hand, but even then they are handsome and the highly scented white trumpet flowers in August and September are welcome.
On sunny banks the prostrate junipers are beautiful, especially the ones that turn violet in winter.
Mosof these will reach three feet if not trained as young plants. I once watched the tamarisk-leaf juniper proceed over a bank with increasing vigor, reaching knee height in a couple of years, I did not know it had to be clipped and encouraged to hug the ground. Those who want it low will find it can be kept to a foot and treated like a lawn - a very prickly lawn that will not take any wear and tear, of course.
This may be the place to remind the innocent that vines and creepers including roses) can be a poor choice for ground cover. One of my favorite plants is Hall's Japanese honeysuckle, a plant of exceptional merit though widely despised by snobs who rarely have aany adjugment inassessing beauty ans who cannot abide plants that grow nicely along alleys and ditches.
But this honeysuckle will climb up any young tree and ruin it, of course, and if not clipped back occassionally it mounds itself up to three or four feet.
Any number of creatures including wasps, like the shelter it affords. It is an extremely dangerous choice, therefore, for covering a bank. it is not dense enough to retard weeds, by the way. It has a merry way of fliging out runners on the ground, which must be watched for, or they will wander for 25 feet and then start climbing up something.
Equally dangerous and by no means so beautiful, is the bittersweet with orange berries in the fall, and the glorious (and rampaging) almond-scented wild white clematis from Japan. C. paniculata. This clematis is very fine along rough fenses in town. It is virtually evergreen and wonderfully easy to keep in bounds (unlike the honeysuckle) by a few timely tug.
Sometimes warnings of what not to plant are as valuable as positive suggestions.
I have never seen a city so thick with poison ivy as Washington, and this must be because most people here come from New York or Greenland and think it would be wrong to pull up something that God or the birds planted. Needless to say it is not a fit groundcover for man or beast. If some of the money now spent on sprying trees were spent pulling up poison ivy, the city would be the better for it.The National Capital Daylily Club, to turn to less dismal things, has issued a list of good daylilies for begginers. Any daylily is good for begginners, but these are particularly handsome sorts, they think, and I pass them on, though I have an aversion to 'Lily Dache' a fulvous flower like a quite large and severely jaundiced bat. it is "cinnamon" colored and is one of the few flowers I ever grew that I thought distinctly ugly. And yet, it may be just the thing for someboday else.
Sea Gold, deep pink-amber, a glorious color; Cart-wheels, strong yellow; Lexington, ruffled lemon.
Rare China, yellow with pinkish-cinnamon edges; Curls, miniature melon-color; Congo Magic, dark red; Chipper Cherry bright red.
Lily Dache, large orange and cinnamon; Serenata, deep apricot, Clarence Simon, ivopry melon; Winning Ways, soft yellow; Shady Lady; yellow with wine-colored eye.
Little Rainbow, smallish yellow flushed pink; Color Girl, ligh rose pink; Sun Chariot, buff yellow.
Bengal Tiger, greenish and cinnamon; Jubilee Pink, pink; Pink Superior, pink; Purple Bounty, red-purple; Praire Charmer, pink with purple halo in throat.
Catherine Woodberry, lavender; Praire Chief, medium red; Renee, small greenish yellow; Fountain-head, rose pink; Gily Yours, greenish yellow.
These are much lovelier than they sound, and "ruffled lemon" gives little hint of the beauty of the old 'Lexingotn'
The society recommends August or early September planting and is bold to suggest the folloeing sources for plant. Locally there is Frank L. Bennett, 21621 Second St., Laytonsville, Md. 20760; Starmont Daylily Farm, 16415 Shady Grove Road, Gaithers-tablished is that of Steve Webber, 9180 Main St., Damascus, Md. 20750. (I was able to buy Hemerocallis cintrina, a lovely wild species, from him recently, though it is not easy to find).
The sociey also lists Grovatt Gardens, 123 West Federal St., Brulington, N.J. 08016; Gilbert Wild & Sons, Sarcoxie, Mo. 64862; The Mannoni Gardens, 220 South Larson St., Chanute, Kan. 66720; and Iron Gate Gardens, Route 3, Box 101, kings Mountain, N.C. 2806.
Membership in the society is $2 a year, and dues are paid to the treasurer, Rear Adm. H.T. Jewell, 1919 Earldale Court, Alexandria, Va. 22306.