A decent ground cover plant is always worth considering. Dymondia margaretae is especially suited to gardens in Mediterranean and other dry climate regions, by virtue of its drought hardiness and ease of maintenance. In fact once established, it is one of those rare creatures – a plant requiring no upkeep whatsoever.
Dymondia forms a very low mat or carpet. It has to be one of the most prostrate species in the plant kingdom, by literally hugging the ground in which it grows. It is a small scale ground cover, suitable for spreading between flagstones, for snuggling up between rocks, and creating a transition space between a lawn or paving and taller plants. It is unsuited to covering large areas and to shade.
Dymondia margaretae has very slim and tiny leaves and so produces a fine, delicate texture. The leaves have a bluish-gray tint, making the plant associate perfectly with the glaucous foliage typical of many Mediterranean climate plants, such as Lavender, Juniper, Rosemary, and Santolina, while conversely, combining less well with large-leaved, tropical plants. Remember that gray and bluish-green, are colors of heat and aridity. Dymondia’s tiny, prostrate, yellow flowers are not especially significant.
As mentioned, Dymondia, which originates from South Africa, is hardy to drought thanks to its deep roots. It will look better though with occasional deep soakings, and so is appropriate to be grown with those drought tolerant plants that prefer periodic watering to constant moisture. It therefore combines excellently with such Australian ornamental shrubs such as Melaleuca, Grevillea, and Callistemon. Like the above examples, the soil must have good drainage.
One drawback worth mentioning is that Dymondia margaretae grows slowly, often taking two or three years to establish itself. It is this characteristic that often puts people off the plant, especially as the gaps between the specimens fill up with weeds. The best way round this is to spread organic mulch on the soil, taking care not to smother the plants in the process. The mulch not only helps to suppress weed germination, but also greatly improves the growing conditions for the plants. Mulch on the other hand is ineffective against noxious perennial weeds, which ought to be eliminated before planting.
Small-scale “niche” plants are not always easy to find and so Dymondia is particularly valuable to the dry climate gardener. As with all plants, knowing its requirements and understanding its stylistic potential, go along way to getting the most out of it, while avoiding disappointment at the same time.