Great for banishing bare winter soil, marking out the front of a border and creating a lovely carpet under trees when planted in large drifts, ground cover plants are an important part of any garden. Here’s my top 10 evergreen varieties that are best for…


  1. Asarum europaeum. With glossy green heart shaped leaves this easy going spreading plant makes a neat edging to a border, or is useful for mass underplanting in the shade. Simple and stylish.
  1. Pachysandra terminalis. This is another lush-looking spreading evergreen ground cover that forms a dense mat of glossy green leaves. Tiny white flowers are a bonus in early summer.
  1. Polystichum setiferum ‘Congestum’ is an evergreen dwarf fern with dense overlapping feathery fronds, useful for underplanting in a cool, but moist shady spot. Polypodium vulgare ‘Bifidomultifidum’ is another low growing fern that can handle sun so great if you’ve run out of shady spots.
  1. Helleborus x hybridus Harvington lime. With bold dark green leaves and pretty white flowers from February to April this brightens up the garden in winter and makes a perfect ground cover for areas of dappled shade.
  1. Pulmonaria ‘Blue Ensign’. I’ve come round to pulmonaria and particularly this variety with bright blue flowers in March to May and, unlike many, unspotted leaves. Great planted somewhere in partial shade, where the flowers can be clearly seen. It looks pretty with pale yellow primroses.
  1. Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ . With striking frosted leaves and dark green veins this useful plant lights up shady areas under trees or near pathways where you can see the sprays of forget-me-not-like blue flowers in Spring.


  1. Stachys Byzantina. This velvety silver-leaved sun-lover is great for softening the edge of a border and giving a bit of interest to a winter garden. It has spires of purple flowers in summer.
  1. Thymus ‘Silver Posie’. A bushy creeping thyme with variegated grey green leaves, it’s lovely for edging paths and growing up between stepping tones. The herby leaves will liven up your food too! Bees love the tiny white/purple flowers in spring and early summer, but cut back after flowering to keep the plant compact.

Sun or shade

  1. Vinca minor. Evergreen with pretty pale blue flowers, from spring to autumn, this is a common but useful ground cover plant for sprawling down slopes. This variety is less invasive than Vinca major but cut back long shoots in spring. Happy in sun or partial shade. Hedera helix ‘Glacier’ a pretty variegated ivy that gives a similar effect, sprawling across bare soil, or down slopes.
  1. Carex oshimensis Evergold . A golden yellow low growing grass which makes a striking edge to borders and is stunning in winter against red stems of cornus or underplanting dark green or purple leaved shrubs. For a bit more drama try Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, a low growing dark purple grass-like perennial that creates bold edge to borders when planted in a drift. Looks good with other grasses and contrasts well with silvery plants. Happy in full sun or partial shade.

Happy new year folks! May 2017 be a lush and fruitful one!

Barbara Samitier is a garden designer who lives in Peckham Rye.

This article first appeared in the January 2017 issue of SE22 magazine.