In Tsubo-en we have intentionally not planted any
mosses as groundcover. This was a design requirement
originating from prior experience. Most mosses that
we do have, did grow there by natural causes.
Not to elect for mosses as groundcover has two important reasons:
In the whole Tsubo-en garden Leptinella
potentillina or squalida (prev. Cotula
common name: "Water buttons" or "Buttonweeds",
Green Brass Buttons,
(Dutch: Goudknopje ook wel Vedermos), is the
primary "moss substitute" groundcover.
This plant is more or less evergreen and a moderate Sun-lover.
It has feathery evergreen leaves that form a nearly flat carpet, perfect for the Tsukiyama as a moss substitute and in flagstone pathways. Tiny yellow flowers appear in spring. This could even be a good lawn substitute in average to moist areas. It has a nice bronze winter colour. It is easily divided year round, by ripping into small pieces or cutting small plugs for transplanting.
This photo is more or less real size.
The size and hight are very much habitat dependent.
During flowering, the odour is very strong and may not be loved by everyone. We find it a smell to get used to that then gives a feel of recognition.
Also see: Keeping the groundcovers out of the gravel and Unwanted mosses and lichen in ground covers.
|On the higher tsukiyama grounds in full Sun area´s it grows smaller and gets less bright green. This as such is no problem. What can become a problem is that unwanted mosses overgrow the Leptinella.|
A smaller of the above, also evergreen version, is Leptinella
(Alpine Brass Buttons, Dutch: Speldekussen)
very much like Leptinella gruveri (Miniature Brass Buttons) ),
is also used on some places.
Depending on the habitat, even when looking from close range this could easily be mistaken with a moss. It can very well be used in between flagstones as a moss replacement.
This species has tiny, feathery evergreen foliage of deep green, sometimes a little bronze in summer. Flowers are green and insignificant. Easy to grow in any soil that does not completely dry out. Easily divided by digging up the clump and ripping into smaller pieces, year round. This very tiny species is ideal as a (moss replacing) groundcover, or as a moss-like carpet in a bonsai container.
|In a corner of the front garden and in an area behind the O-karikomi we have Acaena magellanica (New Zealand Burrs, Dutch: Stekelnootje). This is a low maintenance evergreen plant that performs well. This species forms a mat of lacy grey-green foliage, bearing interesting greenish flowers that mature into copper-red burrs during the summer months. They can grow beyond where you want them, so be sure to inhibit its growth and be strict. Only a few times per year. It is easily divided in not too small pieces early fall or spring.|
Photo above and top of above-left:
On part of the Hõrai-jima (Turtle island) in the front garden, Armeria Maritima (Dutch: Engels gras) grows around the "mountain-lake" or lower-pond. In essence this is a low maintenance plant.
Once a year we need to remove the dried flowers that contain lots of fertile seeds, before they populate the Ginshanada.
See: Armeria Maritima clipping.
Photo above: The flowering Thymus Praecox pseudo langinosus.
There is great selection of evergreen Thyme that can be used as ground cover. All of them with some degree of spicy fragrance. This flat-growing Thyme has green leaves, smothered by mauve-pink flowers in early summer. A strong grower that tolerates moderate traffic. Creeping Thyme is easily divided in spring or early fall, and even small pieces will take root and grow. Attractive to butterflies and bumblebees.
Thymus Praecox pseudo langinosus can also be seen on the right side of the left photo and on the picture below.
We have two species of Thyme.
One is Thymus Praecox pseudo langinosus.
This grows on part of the Hõrai-jima (Turtle island) where we not have Armeria Maritima (see above).
Again this is a great low maintenance flowering groundcover.
|Opiopogon Japonicus "minor", "Nana" (Dutch: Slangebaard). Although "native" to the Japanese garden it is not what we most like. We have planted it more like a try-out. It grows very slow. After many many years it has grown to a very tight carped and we just let it go.|
nobile "treneaguei" (Dutch:
or Anthemis nobilis, commonly known as Roman Camomile, Chamomile, garden camomile, ground apple, low chamomile, English chamomile, or whig plant.
This is the third groundcover we have tried in this area of the main garden. Prior ones where Leptinella squalida and Leptinella minor (see "What did not work").
So far so good.
It is also suited for hot, dry sunny sites in mild winter regions. This special non-flowering selection forms a low evergreen mat of ferny leaves with a pleasant fragrant. In summer it spreads a pleasant smell that gets stronger when touched.
Plants can be mowed or clipped if desired. Easily divided year round by digging up and ripping apart into smaller pieces.
Note that our child Buddha, or better Jizo bodhisattva also "sits" in Camomile.
We have two species of Thyme.
This one is
Thymus praecox "minor" (T. serpyllum "Minor"),
it grows under the
Pinus densiflora and we let it grow on the
tsukiyama in the Main garden
wherever it pops up. The green is darker than that of
the pseudo langinosus and the growth is somewhat denser.
This one is known to be the flattest, tightest and lowest form of creeping thyme. This flat-growing variety features fragrant dark-green leaves, smothered by light pink flowers starting in early spring but also during mid-summer. A slow growing specimen but still excellent as a drought-tolerant groundcover and moss substitute and for planting between flagstones.
This fast-growing creeping, and relatively
low crowing shrub is an excellent groundcover
for establishing on slopes and dangling over walls.
Small fragrant white flowers appear in late spring,
followed by bright red berries in autumn.
These remain well into winter.
The shrub is evergreen and very durable.
It is drought tolerant once established.
Cotoneaster "dammeri" grows on the surface that connects the wall to the water at the water front. One of the functions of this plant is to keep the ground together. Pinching growth tips in spring for the first couple of years will help to get a dense habit. Prune out any dead branches when noticed. In cold winter regions the leaves sometimes drop in late winter but are replaced by new ones.
Here we document what went wrong with regard to the groundcovers that we used or wanted to use.