Spring Perennials Dazzle “En Masse”!

Like most novice gardeners, I began my gardening hobby by collecting one of every new perennial that I found. I was intrigued by the countless varieties of blossom, leaf shape, size and habit that existed in the plant world, and driven by the “plant lust” that many gardeners share. Weekends were spent digging new garden beds to contain the growing collections. While I enjoyed my new acquisitions, I was never really happy about the way that my garden looked overall. The wide variety of plants looked great in my friends’ small gardens, but somehow did not work in mine.

  Tiarella under a Kousa dogwood at the  Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tiarella under a Kousa dogwood at the  Brooklyn Botanic Garden

As my garden grew to encompass my one and a half acres, I realized that mass plantings were the missing ingredient in my overall garden design. Visiting other gardens, particularly public gardens, has shown me that massing perennials has terrific impact. If you have a large garden, the plants must be arranged in significant groupings because the garden beds are viewed from a greater distance. Garden books recommend planting perennials of groups of three or more, but in a large garden, that group may be 30 or more for best effect.

  Erythronium at Carolyn's Shade Gardens, Wayne, PA

Erythronium at Carolyn's Shade Gardens, Wayne, PA

Now as I tour gardens, I am obsessed with the power of mass plantings. Spring blooming perennials are really well suited for this design technique. Many of them are small plants with delicate flowers that will look lost in a large garden. See how wonderful they look en masse!

  Grape hyacinths at Chanticleer outside of Philadelphia

Grape hyacinths at Chanticleer outside of Philadelphia

  Solomon's Seal, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Solomon's Seal, Brooklyn Botanic Garden

  Primroses, Carolyn's Shade Gardens, Wayne, PA

Primroses, Carolyn's Shade Gardens, Wayne, PA

  Bigroot geranium at Margaret Roach's garden, New York

Bigroot geranium at Margaret Roach's garden, New York

  Epimedium roseum and bleeding hearts at Chanticleer

Epimedium roseum and bleeding hearts at Chanticleer

  Pulmonaria at Broccoli Hall, a private garden in Dutchess County, NY

Pulmonaria at Broccoli Hall, a private garden in Dutchess County, NY

  Ferns and forget-me-nots at Broccoli Hall

Ferns and forget-me-nots at Broccoli Hall

  Trilliums at Broccoli Hall

Trilliums at Broccoli Hall

  Primroses and vancouveria at Stonecrop Garden in New York

Primroses and vancouveria at Stonecrop Garden in New York