Carpeting Pincushion Flower (Pterocephalus depressus)
Groundcovers are so important in the garden. They create the garden’s carpet and weave the various plants together into a more harmonious
whole. They grow as a beautiful edge to flower beds, walkways and patios. They often provide both ornamental flowers and foliage to give them a very long s
eason of interest. So when I come across a new, truly remarkable groundcover that has been unknown to me, it’s very exciting.
Pterocephalus (te – RO – cefalous) depressus is currently at the top of my plant list. I got my original plants from a remarkable rock garden nursery in Ft. Collins, CO, Laporte
Avenue Nursery. After growing strongly in my rock garden for the past two growing seasons, (in a sort-of dry year followed by a severe drought year) I’ve seen the many
virtues of this carpeting beauty. Closely related to a very popular genus of cottage garden
perennials, Scabiosa(Pincushion Flower), this alpine species is from the high mountains of Morocco, on the northeastern corner of Africa. Blooming in early to mid-summer, the plant has huge mauve-pink flowers that sit right on the foliage. The flowers are followed by
fuzzy pink seed heads that decorate the plant for many weeks after blooming has finished.
But I have to say that as wonderfully ornamental as the flowers and seed heads are, the tight mat of evergreen foliage is equally interesting and useful. The stems root as they grow and cover themselves with nicely textured, tightly congested foliage that tolerates foot traffic and is as weed-proof as any groundcover I’ve ever seen. Recommended for USDA zones 5-8, Pterocephalus is ready to move from list of specialty rock garden plants into the mainstream of gardening and will prove itself to be a superior garden carpet.