Sporobolus prairie meadow

Example of a Perennial Planting Plan

Two prairie grasses dominate this perennial meadow planting plan. The Panicum virgatum is a large, fine leaved, upright growing grass which is used as a feature plant in this example. Feature plants rise out of perennial meadow mixtures to serve as focus points. Used singly and sometimes repeatedly, they can bring an additional layer of interest into medium to large planting schemes.

The second prairie grass, Sporobolus heterolepis, forms soft mounds of long, arching, fine leaves. In summer its flowers rise high on fine, almost invisible stems to fill the entire scheme with a mist of dancing blossom and seed heads.

Here is how such a scheme will be presented in my Perennial Planting Plans eBook. Symbols show how the schemes are put together at ground level.

Perennial Planting Plans example page

Here you see how the plants are arranged. The Agastache is set out in loose clusters of 2 to 4 plants. then the Echinacea is placed singly at irregular intervals across the planting area. Likewise, the Aster is scattered around informally. The remaining space is filled with the sporobolus grass and the amsonia. When setting out the plants I would place the smaller Amsonia plants in small groups or drifts to enable them to register amidst the somewhat more robust grasses. The aim is to create a matrix of plants with a natural appearance; drifts, groups and isolated plants repeating informally across the planting area.

In my new eBook Perennial Planting Plans ideas abound and since I had already included plans using both Sporoabolus heterolepis and Panicum virgatum this particular plan was not include. Here it is: a bonus, an example, illustrating the information included.

Theme Plants – left —————— Complementary Plants – right

Example of text descriptions:

Prairie dropseed is an important grass within the tall-grass prairie plant community. Here this Sporobolus heterolepis fills the ground level of the scheme with its fine, arching foliage long before it throws up tall, delicate flower spikes in mid summer.

Panicum virgatum, likewise, is a significant prairie grass and since it is a much larger and taller clump forming  plant I have used it sparingly across this scheme as a bold feature plant—and for this reason it is not shown.

The low-growing Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’ flowers with bright blue stars in early summer. It covers the ground with fine foliage all summer that will turn yellow in autumn.

Loose groups of Agastache ‘Black Adder’ send up their slim, purple flower spikes throughout summer in the accompany of the pale, lilac-pink cone flowers. Echinacea pallida is a reliable species with noticeably drooping flower petals below its dark central cones. These persist as significant seed heads, punctuating the scheme for the rest of the season.

A drought-tolerant native, Aster oblongifolius, forms mounds of clear blue daisy-like flowers from late summer into autumn. 

In autumn the sporoabolus grass displays another of its attractive characteristics by senescing into shades of orange and gold before eventually its foliage becomes a bleached thatch woven throughout the entire scheme below darkend seed heads and silhouettes.

Mertensia virginica will complement the scheme in early spring before retreating below ground for the rest of the year. Liatris spicata corms may be scattered here and there throughout the scheme for added spikes of textural interest. Monarda may also introduced yet another flower-head form to the mix where needed.

Eryngium yuccifolium is a significant feature plant that can rises up out of the mix to display its pale rounded seed heads—in scale with adjacent panicum grasses.

By studying the patterns of plants within these plans you will be begin to understand how to bring plants together into naturalistic plant communities.

Perennial Planting Plans book cover

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