Have you noticed how many beautiful ground covers fall into the creepy category: creeping phlox, creeping veronicas, creeping Jenny? These plants usually spread by runners, hence their name, and once adjusted to their location they will keep running indefinitely, growing more substantial with the passing of time. They are the ultimate tough spot savers, thriving in areas usually lost for hope, they are the unbroken, the untamed, the survivors. Let's talk about creepy crawlies.

One great example is creeping veronica, a low to the ground resilient plant that blooms its tiny baby blue flowers at the beginning of summer. It spreads slowly and in a well behaved manner and it is perfect for filling the in-between spaces, those bare patches of dirt between perennials that just beg for weeds. It likes full to part sun and it's not fussy about being moved. Divide it and spread it around your garden, it will fill up quickly.

Periwinkle is so ubiquitous that people tend to take it for granted. Don't. It is the only plant I ever tried that can withstand any hardship: full dry shade, tree roots, the shadow of a walnut tree (the roots of these trees secrete their own plant growth inhibitor in order to discourage the competition), months of drought, foot traffic, sitting water. Not only its foliage is evergreen and decorative but its lavender blue flowers sparkle like little stars to brighten up the shade in spring.

If you have a sloped site with full to part sun exposure that runs you ragged to maintain it try plumbago. Its lush green carpet bursts with a profusion of sky blue flowers from August until frost, at which time its foliage turns an intense ruby red. It requires no maintenance other than a quick haircut in spring to trim the long stems left over from the previous year.

Pachysandra is a wonderful foliage plant, good for deep north shade and damp corners that encourage root rot. It is evergreen and it looks lush and full even in the doldrums of winter.

I like sweet woodruff so much I keep wondering why I never grew it before. It smells great, it has a lacy foliage that provides contrast for the wide hosta leaves and it blooms too, tiny little flowers right about now. It spreads avidly if it finds room but it doesn't get completely out of control. Did I mention it is a full shade plant?

Imagine walking on a path of rosy flowers and stirring spicy fragrance with every step. No, this is not one of those garden fantasies that visit your soul in the dead of winter to keep you going. Plant thyme between rocks and flagstones to create a scented pathway through your garden. It blooms in the middle of summer. The thought of walking on flowers seems a little overindulgent to me, but maybe it's just my "don't step on the grass" upbringing.

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: allyeargarden.com and theweeklygardener.com, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.