Posted: 26/05/2012 at 21:03
I agree about ivy, it's a bit of a thug. Vinca (periwinkle) will cover the ground but it will also cover just about everything else, so it's another one to be cautious about. Pulmonaria is pretty and spreads quite easily. Campanulas and aubretias might work. I never had much luck with ajuga but it's worth a try.
You're right about shrubs, many of them are very easy to manage and soon fill up the space, leaving little room for weeds. Evergreens such as photinia, euphorbias and hebes need little attention and give you colour all year round. You could also consider a creeping, spreading juniper towards the front of the bed.