Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Flowers: Spring Ground Covers

Trillium grandiflorum

This week has been cool and plant growth has slowed down a little. Spring bulbs are at their peak now and the flowering shrubs like Forsythia and Saucer Magnolia are providing colour. By next week the blossoms on the apple trees and other fruit trees should be spectacular in their display.

There are a number of more modest flowers that are beginning to provide patches of colour on the ground. Our soil is sandy and dry and does not support many of the more glamorous plants. We have planted a number of Sedums over the years and they never fail to flower even during the driest seasons.

Rock Cress

Rock Cress belongs to the mustard family. It does best in an infertile, gravelly, well-drained soil high in limestone, likes full sun and has scented white flowers that bloom in April. The plant above is blooming in my garden right now. My niece posted the picture below this week in her blog and asked for an ID.

False Rock Cress (Jaspenelle's picture)

I immediately thought it was Creeping Phlox, another spring blooming ground plant. But the Creeping Phlox flower has five petals, and when I looked closely at the picture, it was apparent that these blooms had four petals. This is False Rock Cress and it is also a member of the mustard family. It prefers moist soils and some shade and also blooms early in the spring.

Periwinkle (Vinca minor)

This is another purple flower that is blooming in my garden right now. Periwinkle, also known as Myrtle is an evergreen ground cover with five petalled purple flowers. It tolerates partial to full shade, normal, sandy or clay soils, average, dry or moist soils. I don't think there are many plants that versatile.

The first photograph is of a trillium in the bush at the end of our street. It is the ground cover of the woodlands this week. Last year I posted a picture of them as they carpeted the ground last May. The green in this flower is caused by a bacteria that affects some of the plants.

White-throated Sparrow in the mulch

Some areas of our yard, particularly under shrubs and trees support very little in the way of plant growth. Each year we cover the bare ground with more cedar mulch. I often throw some bird seed on top of the mulch and this year it has attracted a group of White-throated Sparrows who scratch the surface looking for seeds. It is so nice to hear their sweet song in the morning.

These spreading plants are so much easier to care for than annual flowers and their blooms and foliage can add interest to flowerbeds for the entire season.


  1. Lovely photos and post. Trillium is my very favorite wildflower. To my delight, I found some growing near one of the hiking trails.

    Thanks for sharing the great pictures.

  2. Anonymous9:00 pm GMT-4

    I had my first white-throated sparrow in the yard this morning. Thanks for sharing your pretty wildflower photos.

  3. I think the trilliums (trillia?!) are especially gorgeous. I LOVE spring!

  4. I'm always amazed at the beauty and seeing the little birds working to survive.

  5. Sweet sparrow and lovely purple blooms!

  6. I love all of your photos. The white trillum is the provincial flower of Ontario. Red trillums also grow here, as you know.

    I also have perriwinkles and they are just beginning to bloom. I love them and am hoping they spread in some parts of my yard that are eyesores. I do need to do some landscaping this year. We will see how things go.

    Take care and thanks once again for sharing the beauty of the earth.

    Love and blessings,

  7. Anonymous4:01 pm GMT-4

    The colors are again wonderful. Trilliums are really nice.

  8. Anonymous8:35 pm GMT-4

    Hey, very cool trilliums! Never seen that species before!

  9. Ruth, thanks for your descriptions of those beautiful flowers (I love wildflowers.). Our WT sparrows have left for the most part - I heard one singing the other morning but they've left my feeders. Cute little birds.

    The Pileated WP is GRAND!

  10. Pretty flowers -- especially that Trillium! I have never seen one like that.
    Is is true that your WT Sparrows sing "dear, sweet Canada, Canada, Canada?" (instead of calling for Poor Sam Peabody like they do here in the US)

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  12. I see there are a variety of Trilliums.I like the fact that they have three leaves and are called Trilliums.-That makes it easier to remember.-Nice colorful photos Ruth!

  13. NCMW- Thanks. Trilliums are abundant here and are our provincial floral emblem.

    Jan- I heard them before I saw them. I keep seed on the ground for them and it seems to work.

    Ginger- Your Latin is likely better than mine ;-)

    Jean- Birds still sing in the rain and when they have to scratch about for seeds. good lesson...

    Jayne- thanks for sending the birds north again

    Mary- We have poor soil and have tried many ground covers. But the Periwinkle seems to have established itself very well.

    SG/Monarch- Thanks. The green trillium is infected, but still pretty.

    Mary- It is amazing how far these little birds travel and across the Great Lakes too...

    Ruthie- There is no doubt that our WT sparrows sing Oh Sweet Canada Canada Canada! :-) Who is Sam Peabody??

    Larry- I liked your picture of the Red Trillium. They are far less common.


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