The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, May 4, 2003
Garden Life

Cover new ground with duranta
Satish Narula

Iresin has been combined with duranta to create out this plant logo on the ground
Iresin has been combined with duranta to create out this plant logo on the ground

GROUND cover plants are the best friends of a gardener. Where nothing else grows they can be used. Be it in a shady spot under a tree, along the edge of a pathway, as the outline of a flower or tree bed or as a hedge, they can be put to a number of uses.

They can be used to hide ugly spots too. They can completely cover the surface where they are grown. The use of ground cover plants has, of late, caught the fancy of many gardeners and landscape planners. Their popularity has grown so much that even some of the cacti and succulents, ordinary potted plants like junipers and even ficus species plants are being referred to as ground cover plants.

The use of ground cover plants provides an ample opportunity to the gardener to plan and replan his garden at will. This is not possible where fixed concrete structures are used. Ground cover plants make garden planning fluid. Within a short period of time the garden can attain a new look. Such plants are also of immense significance, especially on berms outside the house where you never know when a trench would be dug for correcting faults in the underground lines. The ground cover plants are essentially those that either need no pruning or can take it well and resurface within no time to attain their original form.

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Iresin has been used imaginatively along with river stones to get an eyecatching landscape design
Iresin has been used imaginatively along with river stones to get an eyecatching landscape design

In case of those plants that need pruning, when they are left to grow on their own for a few days there are wide gaps at the base and a thin line at the top.

Another advantage with such ground cover plants is that these can be used to carve out words on the ground, make logos and topiaries as these can be trained to make different shapes.

One of the most widely used ground cover plants, the golden duranta, forms a beautiful tree when allowed to grow as one. It bears blue flowers and reddish berries. When grown as ground cover, it forms an excellent edge or hedge. It needs cutting too frequently. There are two more types: one is the duranta with green leaves and the other has variegated leaves. These are used for subdued effects. The golden duranta forms a good contrast with iresin, the kali patti. Both can be used in combination to make an imaginative rangoli-type design.

Various sedums form a good ground cover and need no pruning. Pilea, asparagus, chlorophytum (spider plant), perennial verbena, lavender, buddelia, cauffia, etc are other effective ground cover plants that need virtually no pruning or even clipping. The perennial verbena bears mauve, pink or white blooms whereas buddelia and cauffia bear yellow and blue or white blooms, respectively. Such low-lying ground covers which when combined with marble chips and river stones to make designs.

While planting such plants place them near each other so that the ground is covered in no time. When placed far away, they take more time and also if even a single plant perishes it will create a big gap. The plants should be placed eight to nine inches apart. The bed should be richly manured. Aphids that cause leaf curling normally attack the newly planted durantas. Rogor in the ratio of one millilitre to a litre of water should be sprayed.