Picture it: One big flower show from a mass planting of Iris, Oriental poppies or purple coneflower. What a fantastic approach to creating a colorful and dramatic perennial garden! A garden that’s a quilt of color throughout its beds and borders is an amazing thing to see – and it’s an ideal approach for gardens in regions with short growing seasons or those that are viewed primarily at one time of the year. And beds of just one flower type can be easier to care for, too. That’s why so many commercial landscapers choose massed plantings to create striking beds in business and public parks. The best part: They’re easy to re-create in your own yard.
A massed perennial planting of English daisies dazzles the eye with repeated flower forms in shades of white, red and pink.
Photo Credit: ©2001 Dolezal Publishing/Robert Dolezal
A natural woodland bower of massed flowering groundcovers is about as peaceful as a garden gets.
Photo Credit: ©2001 Dolezal Publishing/John M. Rickard
One great example of a dazzling mass perennial show is at the restored home and garden of painter Claude Monet in Giverny, France. There you’ll find spectacular plantings of bearded Iris in luscious colors lining a path. For 4-8 weeks, the Iris reigns supreme! But then what happens? How does the show continue after the star has retired? Consecutively blooming plants – that’s how.
Fortunately, there are available options that work for many homeowners and many garden situations. One idea is to plant early-blooming bearded Irises along the edges of deep beds with late-season bloomers (like hardy asters) planted behind them. That way, after blooming, the Iris foliage creates a foreground for taller plants behind. Another idea is to fill beds with spring-blooming irises, then plant summer-into-autumn-blooming perennials between them. Either way, the key to a successful planting is to choose plants with the same (or very similar) sun, soil and water requirements.
For the maximum flowering period, select varieties that bloom early in the season, halfway through and late in the season to lengthen a show of each of your favorite plants – or choose plants that bloom all season long. Hybridizers have been crossing and selecting certain plants for the ability to rebloom, and now there are daylilies and other perennials that bloom repeatedly until frost threatens. With these new selections, even gardeners devoted to a single perennial species can enjoy a long season of beautiful color in the garden!