When Dave Jacke was out here for the Forest Garden Design Intensive in 2016, we planted out a forest garden area and put in a heap of mostly native ground covers… which were swamped by fungi and grass within a few months.
Having now recovered the site from the grass and restored the larger plants to health with daily watering over the last few weeks of Summer, my thoughts turned to the ground covers. A couple of cooler days after a big storm seemed a perfect time to put just a few new seedlings in.
I visited Matt Pywell at Ballarat Wild Plants and he gave me a great deal on some little fellas . [Ballarat Wild Plants. 5333 5548/ 0409 388 014 firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Daley’s say that the flowers are edible and can be used in salads, but I’m mainly after it forming a dense mat. It dies back in Winter, so we’ll have to see how it copes with Ballarat frosts. I had one from the first planting which did quite well until it was accidentally ‘weeded’ out.
This wasn’t part of my original planting plan, but it’s a member of the Fabacea (pea) family so I’m hoping to gain some Nitrogen as well as an attractive ground cover. It’s often grown in rockeries and likes dry sunny spots, so I’ve planted it on solar oriented sides of raised beds.
Commonly known as “Running Postman”, this is another Fabacea family Nitrogen fixer, which isn’t a ground cover so much as a sprawling rambler or climber. I’ve planted one either side of a patch of established dwarf comfrey, hoping that it will ramble through them. Matt tells me this is a local selection which is less vigorous than others so it won’t swamp the comfrey or the fig planted in the middle of the comfrey.
While not part of today’s ground cover planting, I thought you might like to see these Amaranth which we planted to fill a gap – and because Clara cranked out so many seedlings so we had plenty spare. You might call it taking advantage of a ‘space’ in the succession. I planted Eutaxia and Viola under the amaranth, so they can start to colonise the ground while we take advantage of the chance to harvest some Amaranth grain. Stacking layers, stacking functions… sounds like permaculture to me. 🙂
This Golden Purslane is an annual that we planted to take advantage of the bare ground and frequent watering. Purslane is lovely in a summer salad,; it is crisp and juicy, with a mixed sweet & sour taste. This variety is much bigger than the purslane I’ve got growing randomly in the lawn or veggie beds. (Note the flush of new growth in the black currant behind… don’t plants love frequent watering and no grass competing with them!)
Martin Crawford says the ground cover layer is the most important in a forest garden. Let’s hope today’s little guys do better than the last and that bare ground is soon green and grey!