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TREES & Plants

Ground Cover Garden

Ground Cover Garden at The Morton Arboretum
A living carpet of foliage and flowers graces The Morton Arboretum’s Ground Cover Garden, linking the Visitor Center to the Research Center and the Sterling Morton Library.


The original garden was built in 1938. It is one of the more densely planted and diverse gardens in the Arboretum, with over 350 different plants amid shady, winding paths with strategically placed benches that allow visitors to enjoy a moment of seclusion and tranquility.

The Ground Cover Garden consists of perennial plants and ground covers chosen to complement trees and shrubs, blanketing the ground with a wonderful assortment of attractive flowers and foliage.

With a number of mature trees in the Ground Cover Garden, there is more sunlight in some places than others, allowing visitors to see what plants thrive in full sun, partial shade, or full shade. Signs offer advice on choosing ground covers that are compatible with trees. Among the attributes to think about are flowers, foliage, size when mature, hardiness, light requirements, and pest/disease resistance.

There is always something to see in the garden. In springtime, look for Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica). In summer, find Asian fleece flower (P.olygonum polymorphum). Fall brings silvery seed heads to zebra silver grass (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus'). In winter, enjoy the bright red berries of common winterberry (Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red').