Violas Can Be Vigorous
On the east side of a dense evergreen, Viola ‘Silver Gem’ (Appalachian blue violet) creeps along at a snail’s pace, its silver striped ice-green leaves only varying when it sports tiny purple flowers from spring through fall. This native violet seems to prefer to be ignored, although if it received more sun, it certainly would demand more water. This tough but diminutive perennial covers the most challenging ground, thriving on part to deep shade, and providing an impressive silvery pool beneath resource-hogging shrubs and trees.
Sedge With An Edge
Another evergreen perennial that thrives on neglect is Carex, in particular the variety called ‘Ice Dance’. This 12-inch tall, spreading sedge, with its striped grass-like leaves is the ultimate weed-choking answer to dry shade. It will stand up to whatever you dish out—from partial sun in moist soil to the deepest of dry shade—all the while sporting an attitude that practically screams, “Is this all you’ve got?” Carex ‘Ice Dance’ can be sheared back in spring to encourage fresh growth, but the leaves that emerge after most winters look almost too good to trim.
Many of these plants are available at garden centers in the spring. But when you learn just how many varieties of Epimedium and Hellebores there are in the world, you just might want to get started at one of the online nurseries listed here.
Arrowhead Alpines, 1310 North Gregory Road, P. O. Box 857, Fowlerville, MI 48836, Phone: (517) 223-3581
Edelweiss Perennials, 29800 S Barlow Road, Canby, OR 97013, Phone: (503) 263-4680
Garden Vision Epimedium, P.O. Box 50, Templeton, MA 01468-0050, Phone: (978) 249-3863
Plant Delights Nursery, 9241 Sauls Road, Raleigh, NC, Phone: (919) 772-4794