Q: Is there a ground cover that will let other flowers, such as bulb flowers like tulips or hyacinths, come up through it after it's established? I'd like to line my walk with a flowering ground cover, with some other flowers as accents. I wanted to use vinca (dark evergreen, not the variegated variety), but I've heard that it's so strong that it will smother any bulbs. Is this true, and if so, is there another ground cover that would allow this? Or will any ground cover be too thick?
I see no reason why you can't plant vinca and bulb varieties together. Vinca is shallow rooted and able to out compete weeds, but shouldn't interfere with deeper-rooted bulbs or shrubs, especially early-blooming bulbs like hyacinths or tulips. If vinca starts to outgrow its space, shear it back hard in early spring. It prefers partial to full shade, so I'm assuming those are the conditions near your walk.
Daffodils are another bulb variety that would make beautiful accents with vinca's dark green, shiny leaves. Depending on your soil and light conditions, and your color preferences, you have quite a few options for ground cover. For example, several varieties of both hosta and sedum offer interesting foliage as well as colorful blooms. I've also seen vinca growing along walkways where shepherd hooks and hanging baskets were used as accents. Baskets require a bit more maintenance, but also offer you the ability to change accents at will.
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Vinca is good and it will get a little aggressive. But when the bulb's greenery dies down you can run the lawn mower over it and give it a haircut if it is getting out of hand. Pachysandra is also good, but I prefer vinca. Good luck. Gardening is such fun and if you don't like something you can always rip it out and plant something else.
By Susan M.
Sweet woodruff is also a great ground cover; it doesn't like hot sun though. Things grow up easily through it. (09/03/2005)
Try planting small succulents. There are dozens of varieties. In Nevada, I had hens and chicks and my tulips came up. Thanks for the reminder. I had planted some bulbs that didn't come up. My ground cover is pretty thick. That's why. Thanks.
By Jennifer from CA
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