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Lawn Alternatives

by Jennifer Gay
photographs by Jennifer Gay

For the full article see The Mediterranean Garden No 43, January 2006.

"The most natural option to consider is the meadow: during the winter you will have a sward of infinite variety, followed by a wonderful spring and early summer meadow... just like Sparoza's 'threshing floor', where for several years Sally Razelou has successfully managed what was once an irrigated circular lawn in this way."

The circular 'threshing floor' at Sparoza is a green sward
in early winter, a flower meadow in spring (pictured)
and a mat of dried leaves in the height of summer.

An area of 'savannah' in the garden at Sparoza,
managed as a wild flower meadow.

"Groundcovers provide ideal, low-maintenance foliage-carpeting in areas not subject to heavy wear and tear. ...strategically placed stepping stones allow access."

Bugle, Ajuga spp, forms a low-growing mat in the
shade which spreads by runners. The spring flowers

are a glowing blue.

The well-known periwinkle or Vinca major will both
spread and flower in semi-shade. It can become
if invasive if conditions are too comfortable.

Hottentot Fig or Carpobrotus edulis; a groundcover
for full sun which can be found in many shades. Good for
seaside gardens.

"Alternatively, consider bushier plants if the mat-forming characteristic is not a priority. Many low shrubs and sub-shrubs are suitable..."

African Daisy, Osteospermum fruticosum, spreads by
rooting shoots and self-seeding. It can flower all year round
if the weather is mild, but is cut back by sharp frosts.

The self-seeding annual Honeywort or Cerinthe retorta,
forms a winter/spring groundcover. The lower the fertility
of the soil the shorter it will grow.

The shrubby Lantana camara pictured can be mass
planted to create a tall, summer-flowering groundcover,
whereas Lantana montevidensis is a low-growing trailer.
Both flower better in the sun but will tolerate shade and
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