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I happened upon this cheery scene while out on a neighborhood walk a few weeks ago. An intensely planted front yard stood in stark contrast to the dead dormant lawns surrounding it. At first glance it’s not exactly my planting style, with it’s colorful floral display, but I crossed the street to get a closer look and in doing so was reminded about the importance of covering the ground.

Do you like your plants to touch, or are you the type who likes to see empty space around all the players? You can probably guess where I fall on the spectrum. I not only want my plants to touch, I want them to become intimately acquainted. This gardener has mastered the art of filling the space, but the plants don’t seem crowded, just cozy.

What really captured my imagination was the use of two fairly ordinary plants; dusty miller (Senecio cineraria) and Sedum angelina. Together they make magic. And yes that’s part of my shoe – for scale – so you know just how large this planting is.

The colors, the texture! And let’s not underestimate the role meticulous care, this entire landscape was groomed to perfection.

Moving up to the public sidewalk another area of ground-cover caught my eye (Sagina subulata I believe) and reminded me of something I heard repeatedly during the seminar “Changing Times, Changing Landscapes: Drawing Nature into Urban Landscape Design”. The idea being that we American gardeners have fallen into a false sense of good, with our reliance on mulch (speaking primarily of choices that simply cover the soil, rather than enhance it). Instead of piling on mulch we should be covering the ground with plants, “living mulch”… this gardener has obviously gotten the message.