Advice needed for a ground covering plant please.

Hi everyone, I need some advise please.

I'm looking to cover quite a large area of barren, muddy, and shady ground in my garden.

The area I'm looking to cover is underneath an entire bank of trees and so in the summer is very shady and, perversely, in the winter much less shady as the majority of the trees drop their leaves.

I'd like something evergreen, doesnt have to flower but something other than just plain old green would be nice but as the area can be quite difficult to access I'd like something that will cope with shade and dappled sunlight, which self seeds to spread and carpet the area as opposed to growing upward and tall (we rent so I don't want to keep continually paying out for dozens of things to cover large areas,)and something that can pretty much just be left to its own devices.

Any help and suggestions gratefully received, thank you




  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,802

    I'd use lamium maculatum 

    there are lots of different ones with different shades of silver markings, with pretty pink flowers.  They're not expensive to buy - by several and plant them about 3 feet apart and they'll spread and spread and carpet the whole area in a couple of years if not sooner.

    Here's another of the 

    They're so pretty image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Dove thank you so much. Just had a look at the link and this would be absolutely perfect. Such a beautiful colour on the foliage and lovely pretty flowers. And perfect on my pocket too! That's exactly wht I was looking for, something I could buy and few of and then leave go.

    Off to the garden centre I go....image

  • You could also try ajuga. They have bluish flower spikes and come with dark purplish leaves. I planted 4 last year and they have spread.


  • Thank you Gardenmaiden, that looks great too x


  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493

    Brunnera is tough as nails and will enjoy such a situation. Quite cheap as well which helps.

  • Thank you Blairs. It looks lovely.

  • Forester2Forester2 Posts: 1,478

    I was going to suggest Brunnera the same as blairs.  There is one called something like Jack Frost? which has white edges to the leaves.  They also have lovely dainty blue flowers a bit like forget-me-nots.

  • AtillaAtilla Posts: 1,493

    Jack frost is the one to get Forester2 - I have the bog standard one which is dark green and has slightly larger leaves. Apart from the odd Caterpillar nothing touches it.

  • I liked the look of the Jack Frost very much, there were lots of images of it on google. Pretty plant.

  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 Posts: 782

    Bluebells grow in woods / shaded ground quite naturally

    You could also try some Green Manure Plants for a few months as this will cover naturally and stop weeds

  • More really useful information NewBoy2, thank you

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Heucheras will do well there Heather, and can often be found as small plants at this time of year very cheaply in GCs or nurseries.They grow and spread rapidly once planted out, but are also easy to grow on from cuttings or self sown seedlings. 

  • I too would recommend Jack Frost but also Vinca minor - variegations available in  in white and yellow or Geranium macrorrhizum - the one that looks like below as it is more vigorous than the paler coloured varieties.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 11,908

    I can vouch for that geranium and Brunnera Jack Frost, they will brighten up a shady area. Also Epimediums are good in shade. I have lamiums too.

  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener LeicsPosts: 6,356

    And don't forget Vinca minor (periwinkle) which is as tough as old boots, evergreen, has pretty blue flowers which appears almost all year round and will even grow in total shade.  Great groundcover for large difficult areas as it spreads by suckers or layering itself.

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Thank you everyone for the wonderful suggestions here, I'm off to the garden centre now! image

  • all the periwinkles are good - I have a double violet coloured one, a vinca major (large purple flowers) with green and white variegated leaves as well as the single minor with almost magenta flowers - they all flower all year round (in flower right now) and if you cut them back hard they double their efforts.

  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 Posts: 782


    Please let us know hat you get and send us a piccie when its all taken

    Good luck


  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Heather - I also mentioned to someone else recently that there's an online nursery called Long Acre Plants who are shade specialists. I've not used them personally - I was looking for something specific and I came across them. They look very good and have a lot of lovely plants which may give you more ideas - if your bank balance can stand it! image

  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    Can vouch for Long Acre Nurseries.  another good geranium is G. clarkia.

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