Mazus reptans

On page 73 of your book “Colors for the Garden”, there is a picture (under the heading of -texture, pattern and rhythm)of tulips and a beautiful purple ground cover. Could you please tell me what this ground cover is? I just love that look and would love to attempt to recreate it in my garden. Thank you.
New Jersey

I’m so glad to learn that Colors for the Garden has inspired you. It is especially heartening to me that this image in particular is of interest to you because it illustrates one of my favorite projects. If you will indulge me, I’d like to answer your question about the ground cover in the process of describing the whole project because I think it is a good solution to a common need, curb side access that is not only functional, but also attractive. So let’s start by setting the scene of where this photo was taken.

The site had an existing low stone wall that ran parallel to the street and was set back from the curb about 5 feet. The first order of business was to create the framework for the area. This was done with boxwoods. A pair of boxwoods was planted in front of each of the wall’s stone piers, leaving enough space between each grouping to fill in with seasonal color.

Next we placed a line of rectangular cut stones in front of the boxwoods, near the curb. These offered a hard surface that people could step onto as they got out of their cars.

Now, we get to the answer to your question. The ground cover that caught your eye is Mazus reptans (hardy in zones 4 to 9). It was planted between the flagstones to soften the edges and spill over the concrete curb. The tiny, bright green leaves and delicate, lavender blooms were a perfect fit. It is semi-evergreen, meaning that it will stay green year round in mild climates. The site’s full sun to partial shade suited the growing requirements.

Never one to miss a chance to plant roses, I added climbing ‘New Dawn’ roses on the backside of the wall and trained them to spill over the top.

As mentioned before, the area between the boxwoods was reserved for seasonal color. During fall and winter it is filled with pale blue violas, ‘Blushing Lady’ tulips add height and color in spring, and in summer a white periwinkle with a pink eye combines nicely with the pale pink blooms of the ‘New Dawn’ roses.