It’s such a pretty plant, petite and delicate, only a few inches high and covered with quarter-inch flowers of the softest pink. It’s the kind of groundcover perfectly suited for small spaces, rock gardens, and fairy bowers. It can even be used as a lawn substitute, as it tolerates limited foot traffic. With so much to recommend it, I’ve often wondered why this hardy perennial isn’t more popular. Perhaps it just needs a better name. “Soapwort” fails in the marketing department!
Basket of Gold is a long-lived, low maintenance ground cover for small spaces. Gray, slightly fuzzy leaves are present year round, forming clumps 6 to 18 inches tall and 6 to 12 inches wide. In early Spring the plants are totally covered with masses of tiny cross-shaped flowers. Eye-catching colors range from soft yellow ‘Citrina’ or ‘Dudley Neville’ to the blindingly intense golden yellow of ‘Gold Dust.’ A similar species, Mountain Gold (Aurinia montanum) is more compact, with smaller leaves. Mountain Gold is also a bit harder to find at a garden center.
After months of dreary landscapes, Aubrieta’s vibrant purple flowers bring welcome color to the April garden. The diminutive blossoms have four petals arranged in a cross, with a clump of yellow stamens in the center. In early spring, they bloom enthusiastically, completely hiding the low growing mats of evergreen foliage. The plants only reach six to twelve inches tall but they can extend as far as two to three feet wide.