Groundcovers Make the Rose Garden


I’m happy to see that (some) rose gardens are looking better these days, thanks to their good-looking and super-performing groundcovers. To my eyes, they cover all sorts of rosebush deficiencies throughout the year.  (Love the blooms; the plants not so much.)

Here are some of my favorites, all appearing now at the U.S. Botanic Garden.


These first 2 shots were taken on April 4,  when the only blooms in the Rose Garden are from early daffodils, but this Sedum ‘Angelina’ is already looking fabulous. Didn’t look bad in January, either. (That’s my now-vintage hybrid bike posing center stage.)


By April 24 the Sedum looks like it’s on fire. The purple flowers are – I’m thinking Nepeta?


Also in late April, Ajuga looks great with what looks like a Thyme.


The Rose Garden at its peak in late May. The blooms naturally look good in close-up but thanks to the groundcover, the whole garden looks good.


Above, more Nepeta (or correct me) and very low-growing Thyme.


More eye candy.


Finally, the Dianthus are peaking.

Now in case you’re saying “Sure, everything looks great in May,” I have one more photo for you – taken November 11. The shot below includes peeks at the USBG buildings and the Capitol dome.


There’s one more thing I love about this rose garden and hope to see in more of them – signs like this.

Close-up of sign in the USBG Rose Garden

See what the rest of the U.S. Botanic Garden looks like in May.


    • To me, DC isn’t a biking-friendly city, but then I hate riding in traffic at all. I bring my bike downtown on the subway coz it’s the best way to tool around the Mall and other major sites, which are pretty far apart for walking.

  1. Looks amazing, I love roses, especially the red ones. I’ve been to Queen Mary Gardens in Regent’s Park in London and I can say it was lovely and definitely groundcovers make a difference.

  2. Sedum ‘Angelina’, need to remember that one.

    Susan, I’ve been to the Botanical Gardens (usually in October) but don’t remember a rose garden. How long has it been in existence?

  3. Beautiful! Sedum is so versatile, and looks good most of the year. It’s hard to find a plant like that. I think the purple background blooms in the first photo may be Salvia ‘May Night,’ but without seeing it up close, it’s hard to know.
    The lower photo does look like Nepeta.

  4. Thanks for the spotlight on the Rose Garden, Susan. ProfessorRoush, the Rose Garden has been here since 2006, when it opened as part of the National Garden.

    And the USBG horticulture staff was happy to share information on the purple bloom in question. It is Cat Mint – Nepeta racemosa ‘Walkers Low’

    Some trivia with it — Walkers Low (named after a place in Ireland) doesn’t really stay low. Some more info on it:

  5. Susan, how fun to see pics of the garden in different seasons! And I agree, the groundcovers make it. They add diversity, more seasons of interest, color/texture, and do the job of mulch without having to be replenished every year. Such a sensible and beautiful way to design a rose garden.

    • I fully agree, Evelyn!

      When I have anything in a half-barrel, alpine strawberries were my choice fo “mulch”–after all, you need lots of those plants for dessert at a dinner party or tea!

      I do love that sedum!

  6. Great ! Ideas with time lapse photo I’m using catmint a Lot. Is that the one you’ve mentioned? Thanks, Tina

  7. Sedum ‘Angelina is’ great, for those who haven’t tried it. It’s vigorous and enthusiastic, but not a thug. If it shows up where you don’t want it, it’s easily recognized, and pulls up from a few central and fragile roots. A few plucks and several square feet are cleared. Unlike certain sedums, which break apart into individual lobes, each of which walks about the garden looking for an inconspicuous spot to claim as its own.

    Angelina works well as a secondary plant in a pot, also.

  8. Thank you for this, just as I was wondering if my succulent/rose garden was a strange combination. I’m so much happier “mulching” with ground cover rather than wood mulches (actually, I don’t use that at all anymore — ground cover or straw mulch for me all the way).

  9. The last three photos don’t show up on my browser–just the image numbers (e.g., IMG_8479). The other photos look great.

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