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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Monday - June 04, 2012

From: Thornton, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Groundcovers, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Ground cover for Thornton CO
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I want to order ground cover because I don't want to mess with grass any more. I live in Colorado, north of Denver. The soil has a lot of clay. I tried clover and that did not do well. My yard is partial shade and partial sun. What would be something that I don't have to water and is good with suppressing other weeds, also able to handle foot traffic.

ANSWER:

Please tell us you were not intending to order from us. We only ship information, online. What we can do is go to our Native Plant Database and, using the Combination search, select on Colorado and plant height of 0 to 1 ft. You can refine this by mapping the areas of your yard for sun (6 hours or more of sunlight), part shade (2 to 6 hours of sun) and shade (2 hours or less). You will then be able to select plants for those specific spots, selecting herbs (herbaceous blooming plants)  or other habits, like vines or grasses. When we refer to grass, we are not talking about lawn-mowing type grass, but taller, more ornamental grasses. We will make a sample list of herbs and you can go from there, altering the search however you wish. You can follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant, and read what soils it prefers, growing conditions, etc. We will check the USDA Plant Profile Map on each plant we recommend to make sure the plant is native to the area of Adams and Weld Counties, to make it more likely that the plant will thrive where you live.

Full Disclosure: Most of these plants will neither tolerate much foot traffic nor suppress native weeds. If this is an important concern, we suggest you consider pathways made with decomposed granite and other areas covered with mulch. And if you are not getting regular rain, any plant, particularly newly planted ones, will need water.

Low-growing herbaceous blooming plants for Thornton CO:

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Calylophus lavandulifolius (Lavendar-leaf sundrops)

Caltha leptosepala (Elkslip)

Cerastium beeringianum (Bering chickweed)

Chamaesaracha coronopus (Green false nightshade)

Claytonia lanceolata (Western spring beauty)

Corydalis aurea (Scrambled eggs)

Cornus canadensis (Bunchberry dogwood)

Dryas octopetala (Eight-petal mountain-avens)

Erigeron compositus (Alpine daisy)

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Hedeoma drummondii (Drummond's false pennyroyal)

 

From the Image Gallery


Winecup
Callirhoe involucrata

Lavendar-leaf sundrops
Calylophus lavandulifolius

White marsh-marigold
Caltha leptosepala

Bering chickweed
Cerastium beeringianum

Green false nightshade
Chamaesaracha coronopus

Western spring beauty
Claytonia lanceolata

Scrambled eggs
Corydalis aurea

Bunchberry dogwood
Cornus canadensis

Eightpetal mountain-avens
Dryas octopetala

Cutleaf daisy
Erigeron compositus

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

Drummond's false pennyroyal
Hedeoma drummondii

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