I have an amazing wild autumn olive that is really delicious and it has a yellow poplar it has been feeding with nitrogen nodules. I wanted to grow some gooseberries on the east side where they would be shaded after noon as our summers are far to hot to grow them in full sun (100-115 degrees and regularly 100% humidity). I thought the yellow poplar would be a nice insect attracter with beautiful magnolia type blooms and the autumn olive feeding everything beneath it and between them. I also thought about growing a schisandra vine on the shaded side of the autumn olive but what would be some other cool options, what would be some cool ground covers for the duo? Also we have hardy kiwi in an area like described that is doing great in almost full shade.
In my experience, pretty much anything goes well with autumn olive. But for good suggestions it would help to know something about where you're located, your soil type, and kind of available rainfall.
Even just a climate zone and annual rain average would be a good starting place. Just trying to extrapolate from the plants you already named, I suspect your in a much colder zone than mine, in the winter, which is surprising with how hot you describe your summer.
I am in zone 7 in Kentucky, we are surrounded by water and rainfall is pretty stable until July and August. The soil is largely clay. I don't know why we get such hot summers, but usually our winters never drop below around 5 degrees. It did however drop to -10 two years ago and killed our Chicago hardy figs back down to the ground, but one has since already got to 6 foot. The figs really love our summers. 115 is the hottest I have ever seen we usually have about two weeks around 100 degrees and some years floats towards 110.
Okay. Strawberries and herbs are the classic edible ground covers, so if there are any varieties that do well in you area it may be an easy way to start. Do a search on herb spirals and it could give you an idea of how to arrange an assortment of herbs with different needs to surround the existing plants. If you want to look for a more unique solution, I recommend this database, http://www.pfaf.org/user/Default.aspx which is designed to be easily searched through. They also wrote this article http://www.pfaf.org/user/cmspage.aspx?pageid=81 about edible ground covers.
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