Frances Hopkins, creator of the STEPABLES plant line gives advice about how to maintain STEPABLE plants in the garden.

Changing the Game

Changing the Game

Every so often you decide a change in the game is needed. Either you determine it is time to change the game you are personally vested in called your life, or you determine your business needs an attitude adjustment. Either way, sometimes it is the one solitary move that seals your fate and dominoes a change so radical that the ripple is colossal. Well that was me 15 years ago. With one fell swoop, I changed the direction of my life and my business and nothing has been the same since.

15 years ago I developed whole new concept in gardening and changed how people all over the world look at plants on the ground. STEPABLE plants have revolutionized gardening. 15 years ago you could not find a book that said you could walk on a plant. In fact, the top rated ground covers books declared that foot traffic was not even advisable, stating the plants would never be able to withstand the pressure. Well, we proved them wrong! In fact, we proved that our plants actually grow BETTER when you walk on them!! So 15 years later, thousands of articles have been written on the subject, tons of gardening books now use foot traffic as part of a plant’s description, and dozens of copy- cat companies have sprouted up to take on STEPABLES as rivals.

You might think this was one a one and done concept, but I wasn’t finished!

For years the common verbiage was to call everything growing at ground level ground cover. However; since the inception of STEPABLES, I have always insisted on calling our genre of plant material creeping perennials.

Why? Because not all ground covers are created equal!

There is a huge difference between a plant used for a pathway and a plant used for a hillside! You can step on a thyme all you want, but ever try to walk on a hen n’ chick? Ha! They become a squishy mess!

That is why we have spent the last 15 years honing our craft to bring you another exciting plant line.

We would like to introduce to you


Project Perfect All-Terrain Ground Covers

All-Terrains are our yin to our yang, our ebb to our flow, the salt to our pepper.

Other companies have copied our plant list to fool consumers into thinking they have the same product, but they truly have no idea what they are doing with this category of plants…besides selling them. However, when I started STEPABLES,  I had a vision.  I saw a need for application marketing. I saw a need to teach, not just to sell. It’s not just about getting someone to buy a plant, it’s about solving their landscaping problem with the RIGHT plant. We have these amazing green heroes that people can use to find solutions to their landscape woes. These are not just pretty plants, but something that solves their real-life landscaping issues. These plants are problem solving, ecologically sound choices for today’s landscape. They have qualities that may include taking on some foot traffic, but for many others, their uses reach far more than being able to trounce on them to get your mail.

So what’s the difference? Why does it matter?

Assorted All-Terrain Ground Covers

Assorted All-Terrain Ground Covers

Ground covers can include just about everything you can plant in a landscape. From junipers to hostas, to sedums and ferns. The list is endless. They can range in all shapes and sizes, colors and textures, but most importantly, they range in an abundant amount of growth habits.  Fast or slow, short or tall, you can pick a ground cover that will grow 12”, 24”, some even 36” in a year. I’d like to see a creeping thyme do that!! Creeping perennials are more diminutive in style. Not so with a general ground cover.


Ground Covers by their very name cover a lot of ground.

The big question is…What kind of ground do you need to cover?


Determining the purpose of your planting will be an enormous help in your mission to determine the right plant for you.

Hypericun calycinum ST Johnswort

Hypericun calycinum    St.Johnswort

Questions to ask:

  • Will you be planting a steep hill or a flat area?
  • Do you need to plant for drought tolerance or is the area always damp?
  • Is this a transitional area between you and your neighbor?
  • Will you need to create a walk-though area or a complete division of space?
  • Are you planting a simple pathway to your front door or a large patio area for your family to entertain?
  • Are you planting a dry culvert by the road or one that fills with water every winter?
  • Will you be planting a curbside hell-strip that you will hardly ever maintain or water, or will the area be used for your friends and family to enter your home?


    Thymus Psuedolanuginosus     Wooly Thyme

These are just a few of the questions one needs to ask to determine whether you need a creeping perennial or a ground cover.

Creeping perennials can do just about anything and be put just about everywhere…but ask them to grow 24” in a year, or get 24” high and that would be far past their limit.  Just as a general ground cover can grow that tall and that wide per year, they will not stay small in stature. You can’t make a plant shrink and you can’t make it grow faster than it is genetically programmed to do.


So you must know the difference between these two plant genres to be able to determine the right plant for your problem area. Neither side can accomplish all feats so you must educate yourself on the choices at hand to determine what the best plant option is for your particular landscape issue.

Being knowledgeable about what type of  plant you will need is critical.

Vinca minor Bowles Periwinkle

Vinca minor   Bowles Periwinkle

Understanding the differences between a creeping perennial like Corsican Mint and a general ground cover like Periwinkle is imperative. Corsican Mint will grow 1-2” inches high a year and spread 4-6” wide on average. Periwinkle can grow anywhere from 12- 18” high over a two year period, and spread 12-24” inches or more.

Mentha requienii Corsican Mint

Mentha requienii   Corsican Mint

Corsican Mint will take quite a bit of foot traffic and release a lovely fragrance, however, Periwinkle will not. The Periwinkle can take some foot traffic, but will not look pretty doing so. Water will run off Corsican Mint, but the Periwinkle will act as erosion control on a large hillside.

Basically, Corsican Mint is no match for a steep hill, but it is a perfect fit for a garden pathway, as it will not grow too high and can absorb the foot traffic. Periwinkle is perfect for a steep hill, but an absolutely horrible idea for a pathway plant.




Ground covers and creeping perennials are wonderful plants to use in your landscape. They are the living carpet to your outdoor rooms. Knowing the difference between the two plant genres and planting wisely will lead to years of satisfaction from your beautiful handiwork.

Breathtaking beauty with ground covers

Breathtaking beauty with ground covers

Are All –Terrain Ground Covers 

game changing


We think so.  We are pretty big fans of any plant material that makes our life easier, brings about a sense of harmony in the landscape and creates an environment rich in creature activity, low in chemicals and high on beauty. Combining STEPABLES and All-Terrain Ground Covers in your landscape will create the most perfect living carpet for your yard and turn any landscape into a Dreamscape!


Stay tuned for more blogs on ground covering plants, and a new section of our website developing over the winter months that will become an invaluable tool for your landscaping needs.

Now go get dirty out there!

~Fran White

President- Under A Foot Plant Company



So I have been thinking a lot about my life lately. Lots of new beginnings, lots of ends to things as well. I have said goodbye to a lot of relationships that needed to end and hello to many that have been chomping at the bit to start. Passing of time is relevant, don’t you think? It’s always the view from 30,000 feet that makes you scratch your head and say…what was I thinking??!!  butch-cassidy-and-the-sundance-kid Staying in one place has never been good for me. I am quite fond of the clip from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid ( had a Sundance poster on my closet door forever as a teen!) when the old guy in Bolivia is thinking of hiring Sundance and wants him to shoot at the target…of course, he can’t hit a thing. Guy thinks he’s bad. So Sundance asks if he can move…before the old guy can say anything, Sundance swings around, pulls the gun out the holster and hits the tin can dead on…then says “I do better when I move”.
Well…that’s me. I do better when I move. I am as sharp as they come and can outmaneuver most, but I need to be able to move: physically and mentally. Get me in quick sand, or bureaucratic red tape and I am a goner! For the past seventeen years I have been stuck with this bad back…and the last three had seen me house bound. Now I finally seem to be on the right path again. My path. I spent the summer traveling to promote our new programs. First time in years on an airplane…that part still kills my back, but seeing the world again was lovely. Being with my guy through most of my journeys was wonderful and even included a proposal in which I happily said yes!! craig-and-ism Now this is where time is relevant. Craig and I were at a trade show on Navy Pier this last August in Chicago, when I happened to look up and see a couple that I had been friends with years ago, but had lost touch. Chris and Lynnette Shonnard own a wonderful garden center that I used to call on in Philomath Oregon. We spent the next 5 hours catching up at Margaritaville (which included a conga line……don’t ask), which led to an offer to stay at their condo in St. Thomas in January. We were thrilled and happily accepted the offer. This then apparently motivated Craig to ask me to marry him during the seventh inning stretch at a Cubs game a few nights later. Again, yes was easy to say. Fast forward to the holiday’s being over and preparing for our trip, when we ridiculously contemplated that we could pull off a little wedding in two weeks! Again, the answer was a resounding, yet slightly nervous yes.
Here is what I am trying to say… Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright. every-little-thingSay yes, and see what happens. Change happens when we are at the end of our comfort zone. If I had never said yes to this crazy surgery that put this neuro-stimulator in my back, I would have never been able to take a trip to Chicago, to meet up with my old friends, which in turn was a chance meeting that changed Craig’s and my life forever.
Being open to change is scary.  I know, because on St. Thomas, I had to face my greatest fear in life. The ocean. It’s funny, ever since I was a kid, I have been terrified in water. This is so ridiculous, since I grew up a beach girl in Southern California and even have a salt water aquarium. A few bad haunts early in life really made it impossible for me to enjoy one of my greatest loves. This fear has made me hyper-nervous to be in a boat, or to go into a pool, or even step foot in the ocean. It has always been a love-hate relationship with the ocean. There is no place on earth I would rather be than on the beach with the sand between my toes…but Lord help me if you asked me to go in the water. Even when the water was so smooth and so clear you could see forever in it. st-john-sm
So here I find myself, getting married on a boat, planning a deep sea fishing trip and a snorkeling trip…all of which I am pretty terrified to do! But again, the mantra of the trip was to let go and go with the flow. Don’t worry, bout a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright. cf2                                                  Besides…saying yes to Craig on a sail boat, at sunset in the Virgin Islands was more romantic than any girl could ask for; so I needed to overcome my fear.

As I look back on our trip to St. Thomas, the man above was working his magic long before Chicago; long before my implant, long before I met Craig, and long before I ever met Chris and Lynnette. So for whatever reason, it was my good fortune to have looked up that fateful day to see Chris towering over the crowd ordering a drink. How funny that in one particular single moment, a fleeting second really, my life was changed forever.
When you open yourself up to change, the world is at your finger tips. Anything is possible. I have learned that, and am repeatedly reminded to move, to say yes, to be open-minded and let things flow they way the universe wants them to flow. When you do that…let go of control, everything is gonna be alright.

I handled our wedding sailing trip easy–peasy. It was a night to remember and what fun we had!four-sm


The deep sea fishing trip was awesome and I suspect there will be a boat somewhere in our near future, I’m hooked!!  

Now, the snorkeling was a whole different story. Craig knew I was nervous, but had no idea how bad this was for me. I was a rock during the flood, never batted an eye during all of my surgeries; but petrified doesn’t even come close to what I was feeling in 4 feet of water. I couldn’t breathe. I barely could handle the fins, much less the mask and snorkel. We were in the shallow water forever just trying to get me to calm down. I have never hyper-ventilated before, but I now know what that’s like. Holy cow what I was putting my groom through!! But ya know…I married the right man, no doubt about it. Craig never let go of me. He stayed calm through ever cuss word and freak out moment I had. He helped me breathe and would have happily taken me back to shore…but finally said “As long as I’ve known you, you have wanted to swim with the fishies…you’ve come all of this way to do that. We can go back to shore if you want, but I’ve got you, so don’t worry…let’s just swim a little bit and see what happens.” And as terrified as I was, I clenched even tighter to his hand and took the biggest breathe I have ever taken in my whole life. I said a little prayer, and let my feet go behind me and floated to the top to start swimming. In a few minutes I was way out in the ocean and had never realized he had let go and I was swimming on my own!!! He told me later he had to laugh, because I was going so fast, he couldn’t keep up with me! The best moment I had on the entire trip was when he snuck his hand gently into mine over an entire wave of sea fans and we swam together. What a moment of sheer bliss. Swimming with the fishies, with my new husband was the coolest thing I have ever done.

               I am so glad I said yes…to so many things last week.


Craig and Frances White


I’ve climbed the Sydney Bridge to get over my fear of heights. I have swam with the fishies in the Virgin Islands to get over my fear of the ocean. I have had surgeon’s put some bizarre implant in my back to give me every opportunity to live my life to the fullest.
Give me any opportunity to say yes to change…to move in any direction the universe calls me in. To trust that the world is bigger than I am and that I can take that energy, channel it into strength and overcome anything. I can do it now. I know I can.

 Every little thing is gonna be alright.

Now go get dirty out there!!