When approaching a project of any size one of the first design points to consider is: How much ground space am I working with? While also an opportunity to create a beautiful garden, having too much space open leaves the property vulnerable to invasive species or can facilitate soil erosion. Landscape architects have a myriad of options to combat these issues and a common route is to use ground covers. When planning a garden bed it can often be easy to jump to classics such as english ivy or pachysandra however one should look into using more diverse varieties that promote diversity. This brings us to our first plant highlight: Creeping Mazus (Mazus Reptans).
One might consider Creeping Mazus to be a plant of funny contradictions. This fast spreading ground cover is able to thrive in both sparse and populated spaces yet do so without competing with the local flora. While aggressive in its growth the effect it has on its surroundings is minimal, some might even say tender. This allows the gardener to plant other species among and around its root system without competing with it which promotes a more diverse ground planting.
Creeping Mazus can be identified by its small clusters of purple-blue flowers and dense, thumbnail sized foliage. It averages about 5cm in height, generally blooms in late spring and summer and, given it receives adequate care, will thrive with minimal attention. They generally prefer at least some level of shade or to be used as underplanting for shrubs. Provided that the desired planting space has proper drainage and a healthy humus, the layer of the forest floor that is made up of decaying plant and animal detritus, your Creeping Mazus bed will be happy.
As an added benefit this plant is virtually disease and pest free. Though if your garden struggles with slugs or snails it may be prudent to use traps. Another benefit that Creeping Mazus brings to the table is the fact that once the dense matt has fully settled in this delightful ground cover can be mowed similarly to turf grass. Unlike many other plants in this category controlling the spread of Creeping Mazus tends to be easier.
As we begin to explore ways to increase diversity and implement more sustainable landscapes with this series we must affirm our dedication to what we refer to as restitutional landscaping. The idea is that we give back what we have taken away because of land development of the environment. Using plants like Mazus Reptans helps to minimize maintenance while at the same time allow a more diverse planting of herbaceous plants. This serves as a guide post that biodiversity can be visually appealing as well as accessible. Be you a home gardener or a landscape architect we have a responsibility to use plants and practices that are conducive to healthy species and diverse, sustainable and easy to maintain landscapes.