groundcover for small, sunny mixed bed...?
Pardon this long, rambling post - this is how my thought processes work in the garden! :-)
What do you use for groundcover in a bed dominated by a shrub? I have been mulling this over - for years actually! - for a small bed in the front garden. The area is roughly triangular (I call it the 'teardrop' bed) Two sides are about 5' long and the third is about 7'. The planting originally was dominated by a 'Blanc Double de Coubert' white rose with underplantings of things (smaller roses, clematis and perennials) in blues and pinks. The rose attracted Japanese Beetles so it eventually got evicted in favor of a 'The Swan' hydrangea. . Since that hydrangea takes a few years to buid up a woody framework to support itself, perennials (particularly coneflowers and asters) have dominated in the past couple of years. By the end of last summer 'The Swan' was getting big enough to start to take on its proper dominant role. (If it doesn't survive this winter, I'll have to think of what to use to replace it!) Last summer/fall we removed most of the coneflowers and asters, leaving the other, smaller perennials (e.g. pulsatilla, columbine, a perennial geranium, dwarf iberis, delphiniums) and the xDurandii clematis that grows into the hydrangea. In the fall, I plunked in a dark heuchera or two that had spent the summer in pots. The iberis, pulsatilla and heucheras are all things I've been considering as groundcovers in both this bed and the large front bed where I'm gradually replacing some of the perennials with smallish flowering shrubs.
So, after this long preamble, my question is - what do you use on the ground plane in this sort of situation? In an all-perennial bed, the perennials themselves have always been the groundcover for me. Now that I'm moving more into flowering shrubs in some areas, the issue of underplanting them with something is becoming more relevant, and I always find it useful to see what others have done in similar circumstances. Rouge and SB - if you two come down in spring at some point, it would be good to have your in-person reaction to what's there/what to do..... :-)