“If you have the opportunity to make a bold stroke, you have to do it.”
Garden design doesn’t have to be complex to be effective. In fact, today, the trend is toward more natural, sustainable designs that feature plants native to the area.
To see how artful such designs can be, just take a look at nature. In the natural world, a single species can be visually intoxicating all on its own. Look, for example, at a field of wild daisies, a pond filled with water lilies, or even a swath of bright green marsh grass, or banks of ferns in the woods.
Instead of trying to manage dozens of species, choose one or a few you really love and generously plant a whole area with them. Sometimes, the simple gesture can be the most powerful. A gardener in Rockport massed a whole side bed of daffodils beneath a row of forsythia with several different species of jonquil.
Nothing could have been simpler, yet the effect of all that yellow in the spring was glorious.
Perennials of all kinds lend themselves to massing. The key to success is to be sure that the species you’re choosing will flourish in the light and soil conditions of your property. There are species that do well in practically all lighting conditions, and even if your gardening is limited to a balcony, or deck, there still are plenty of exciting options available.
How to create a garden oasis of your own:
First: Define the area you will plant
Second: Analyze light and soil conditions. Most perennials fall into one of just a few categories: full sun, partial sun, or shade.
Third: Amend soil, if necessary. Soil testing kits are available from garden supply centers and mail-order houses and your garden professional can guide you in amending your soil.
Fourth: Choose plantings that will flourish in the light and soil conditions of your property.
Finally: Enjoy your garden!
Suggested Perennials for Massing
Sun: Lavender, Russian sage, poppies, ornamental grasses, sunflowers, tulips, Shasta daisies, coneflower, delphinium, coreopsis, nasturtiums, phlox, zinnias, wild indigo, chamomile, globe thistle, bee balm
Partial Sun: Allium, anemone, perennial spirea, brunnera, bellflower, spurge, day lilies, hosta, flax, lupine
Shade: Carex, golden, blue, and leatherleaf sedges, oakleaf hydrangea, Jack Frost gunnera, butterbur, rogersia, Indian rhubarb, ligularia, hosta
Climbers: Morning glories, jasmine, sweet pea, passion flower, wisteria, honeysuckle
A former proprietor of Morning Glory Garden Design in Rockport, MA, Maris Nichols writes about gardening and the natural world as well as food, style, art, and furnishings. Her work has appeared in lifestyle publications nationwide.