University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
Dr. Leonard Perry,
University of Vermont
are quite a few low spreading
perennials that are suitable for use along walks, between pavers, in
gardens, and small spaces. All prefer full sun and well-drained soils.
Turkish speedwell (Veronica
liwanensis), unlike most of its taller and more upright relatives,
reaches about 2 inches high, with a spread of up to one foot the first
season. It has tiny but noticeable rich
blue flowers in early summer. It is
hardy to USDA zone 4a (-30F air temperature) with snow cover, and for
periods to at least 14F soil temperature.
Another low and spreading speedwell
(Veronica), the hybrid Waterperry Blue has light blue flowers in
summer. It has a similar to greater
spread than its Turkish relative, and is slightly taller (4 inches or
so). It is hardy to USDA zone 4a with snow
and for brief periods to at least 23F soil temperature.
Leaves turn an attractive bronze in fall.
Two speedwells form a loose mat over
a foot wide in one season, and have blue flower spikes in early summer
mat of green leaves. Alpine speedwell (Veronica
allionii) has flower spikes to 6 inches high, while those of
prostrate or harebell speedwell (Veronica prostrata) may be
taller. Both are hardy to USDA zone 4a
with snow cover.
Himalayian Mazus (Mazus reptans) forms
a dense green mat several inches high and up to a foot or more wide,
rooting at the nodes. The snapdragon-like
flowers appear in
summer, purple in this species and white in the cultivar Alba. Although it is hardy to USDA zone 4a with
snow cover, it wont tolerate soil temperatures much below 28F for very
long. The cultivar Motley has flowers that are
white on the top, purple on the bottom, and bronze leaves.
Mazus will tolerate moderate foot traffic.
The Kew Dwarf cultivar of spindle
tree (Euonymus fortunei), unlike its shrubby relatives to
tall, only gets an inch or two high, and spreads to form an open mat
foot across. The tiny green leaves turn
a burgundy in fall. Flowers are
inconspicuous if even present. It is
hardy to USDA zone 4a with snow cover, and for brief periods to at
Rubies pinks (Dianthus gratianopolitanus) forms a slight but
with spread to a foot or more across the first season. The
bluish green leaves are covered with
double, deep pink flowers in early summer.
It is quite hardy, to USDA zone 4a with snow cover and for brief
to at least 8F soil temperature. Tiny
Rubies is fragrant, similar to its other taller Cheddar Pink relatives. They are called Cheddar Pink after the
Cheddar gorge of southwest England,
one of its native habitats, and after "pinking" shears due to the
serrations on the petals.
The cultivar Pleniflorus is a
double-flowered form of our native Bird's-foot Trefoil (Lotus
corniculatus). The tiny pea-like yellow
flowers in early
summer are close to the mat of leaves, each divided into leaflets. This plant can spread over one foot the first
season. It is hardy to USDA zone 4a with
snow cover, and for brief periods to 18F soil temperature but not
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