Ground cover plants play an important role in the forest garden, protecting the soil, providing refuge for wildlife at ground layer, preventing unwanted plants from establishing and can provide some food such as berries or leaves.
Ground covers are easy to establish and can be very easy to manage. During this post, we’ll take a look at some of our favourite ground cover plants with a focus on those that are suitable for deep shade. We’ll provide an overview of the plants, how they are used, the wildlife they can attract, and how to propagate the plants.I’m defining deep shade here as those areas of your garden that receive two – three hours of direct sunlight each day. This may be areas on the north sides of buildings and walls (in the northern hemisphere) and under dense tree canopies.
Bugle – Ajuga reptans
Overview: Bugle – Ajuga reptans is a dense, mat-forming ground cover, spreading to 0.6m at a medium rate. It is in leaf all year, producing pretty blue-violet flowers from May to July on spikes that rise above the foliage at a height of around 30cm. The foliage can block the light from weeds inhibiting their growth. The plant is hermaphrodite and pollinated by bees and other insects. Easily grown in average, medium moisture and well-drained soils.
Uses: Excellent ground cover for large and shady areas. They spread freely with runners and establish themselves in areas that provide the optimum environmental conditions, ie, fertile well-drained soil in partial to deep shade. Medicinally, Bugle has a long history of use as a wound herb, helpful in stopping bleeding.
Biodiversity: The flowers are highly attractive to bumblebees, some songbirds and other beneficial insects.
Propagation: Through divisions if the plant becomes too crowded. Also easy to propagate with seeds.
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