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Designing Perennial Plantings

While beds and pots of annuals may be replanted with ease, perennial plantings may live for many years and, therefore, require some planning. Flower beds are usually highly visible and should work well into the total landscape design. Otherwise, large areas of the landscape may be bare part of the year.

Many perennials, like annuals, are effective in mass when they are in bloom, but because of their seasonality, they are better viewed as small clumps of color and texture to accent other plants. You can often build a design to support or accent a favorite plant or group of plants. Use small evergreen shrubs, flowering trees, or such hard features as a fence, stone, bench, birdbath, or garden art to enhance a flower garden and "carry" it through all the seasons.

One of the easiest design "tricks" is to interplant groups of flowers that have contrasting shapes. For example, daylilies can have their large flowers set off well by the spikes of blue salvia and the round flowers of yarrow. The large leaves of canna and sword-like form of iris plants have a dramatic effect when used in groups among other less bold plants.

A natural way to begin planting perennials is to create islands of flowers in an open lawn, but because such beds are easily viewed from many sides, they often require high maintenance to keep them attractive.

Border plantings along a wall, fence, or hedge can soften the transition of landscape structures into the rest of the landscape or can create alleys of color. Rectangular beds lend themselves to a border planting where space is restrictive. When planting a perennial border against a hedge, fence, or wall, leave a little space between it and its backdrop. This allows for better air circulation, more light penetration, and ease of maintenance from the rear of the bed. Perennial borders often are 6 to 8 feet wide, allowing adequate space for at least a combination of six or more species, front to back, yielding a continual bloom.

To prevent turfgrass from growing into the perennial bed and becoming unsightly, use some form of broad edging or separating strip. Bricks laid flat, flagstone, bare ground, or a heavy layer of mulch such as wood chips or bark will help keep out grass.

Perennials may be grouped according to color, intermixing plants that bloom at different intervals for a continual display. Early bulbs may be planted with spring yarrow and iris, which usually fade before daylilies and canna begin their season of color. Fall sunflowers and ornamental grasses complete the season. Select plants that have not only attractive long-lived blooms, but those that have attractive foliage.

Plant height is a major consideration. In border plantings, the tallest plants are usually placed towards the rear to serve as a backdrop with a few moved forward to prevent monotony in the design. In island plantings, they are placed towards the center. Fall-blooming perennials are usually the tallest, making them the best backdrop or accent plants. Most of the middle height perennial plants are summer bloomers and may occupy the majority of the middle space. Spring-blooming perennials are primarily short plants; place them toward the front. Emerging foliage and flowers of later blooming plants can help hide the fading foliage of earlier flowers. Narrow beds with excessively tall plants are usually not effective displays. Whether for borders or island beds, keep the width of a planting about twice the height of the tallest plant.

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Publication Number: IS0204
Publication Number: p3121
Publication Number: P3099
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News

Confederate rose is an heirloom plant that blooms prolifically in late summer and fall.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens October 23, 2017
I have weekly favorite plants, as you may know, and one of my favorites started blooming in earnest over the last couple of weeks. The sheer number of flowers on the Confederate rose makes this plant a must-have in our Mississippi landscapes.

Confederate rose is sometimes called Cotton rose and Cotton rosemallow. Despite the references to cotton, this plant is actually a hibiscus that originated in Asia.
American beautyberry, a native shrub with tiny flowers and prolific berries, is excellent in home landscapes.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens October 16, 2017
After cleaning the mess from Hurricane Nate, I had the chance to participate in two outstanding field days in Mississippi and Louisiana. I really enjoyed the plantings at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station and the Mississippi State University Truck Crops Branch Experiment Station in Crystal Springs.

These events inspired me to share ideas over the next several weeks for great plants to put in your garden and landscape that you will enjoy next fall.
 Several blue containers in this colorful landscape garden are blown over after heavy storm winds.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens October 9, 2017

While Hurricane Nate was obviously not in the same class as Katrina, the last hurricane to hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast, it did provide gardeners a lesson in getting their landscapes ready before a storm.

I know it’s a bit backwards to wait until after the storm to make a list of tips to get your garden ready ahead of time. But this was the first hurricane I’ve experienced since moving to the Gulf Coast, and I’ve been thinking what I could have done better in advance.

Filed Under: Flower Gardens, Landscape and Garden Design, Landscape Management, Environment October 6, 2017

Gardeners can purchase hard-to-find native plants during the Crosby Arboretum’s popular Fall Native Plant Sale.

The semiannual sale will be Oct. 21 and 22 at the arboretum. It begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 3 p.m. Arboretum members can enter at 9 a.m. Admission is free.

Toucan Rose canna flowers in a garden landscape with shades of pink and dark red are brightened by sunlight.
Filed Under: Flower Gardens October 2, 2017

Cannas are commonly grown as large-specimen plants and look fantastic mass planted in landscapes. Their tropical-looking foliage lends bold texture to the space until the flowers steal the show from summer through fall.

In fact, the cannas I have planted in my Ocean Springs landscape right now are looking the best they have so far this year.

Watch

Killer Cool Color
Southern Gardening

Killer Cool Color

Sunday, October 15, 2017 - 2:00am
Copious Coleus Color
Southern Gardening

Copious Coleus Color

Sunday, September 24, 2017 - 1:00am
Roundabout Color
Southern Gardening

Roundabout Color

Sunday, September 17, 2017 - 1:00am
Burgandy and Silver
Southern Gardening

Burgandy and Silver

Sunday, September 10, 2017 - 1:00am
Landscape Gold
Southern Gardening

Landscape Gold

Sunday, September 3, 2017 - 1:00am

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 2:00am
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Friday, October 20, 2017 - 1:00am
Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 1:00am
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