If you’re anything like me, the thought of digging up a bulb during the fall months and keeping it somewhere safe until spring is a bit daunting. Will I do it? Yes, but it doesn’t particularly top my list of fave “to-do’s”. So for this week’s 3 x 3 Garden Trio, I decided to focus on some of the best-loved perennials…plants that will keep coming back despite the icky winter weather we can get here in the Midwest (although we haven’t seen much of it this year). This is a wonderful trio for those of you who have larger garden beds located in sunny areas and are looking for some low maintenance plants to fill in over the next few years. The bright colors and varying textures of this trio play off of each other adding quite the accent to your landscape. An additional benefit of this grouping is that all three are known to attract butterflies and even a few hummingbirds! The three amazing plants in the following garden layouts are Black-Eyed Susans, Liatris, and Fireball Monarda.
Black-Eyed Susans (5 total plant starts)
Well-known by gardeners and nature observers alike, the simply beauty and everlasting cheerfulness of the Black-eyed Susans are unmistakeable. The blooms are long-lasting whether left to enjoy in the landscape or cut to be enjoyed in a crystal vase. Growing 18-30″ tall, the foliage of this plant creates a nice mounding habit and provides an attractive backdrop for the bright orange-yellow blooms. This particular variety of the Black-eyed Susans is perfect for the “mid-height” ranged of any garden bed in a sunny spot.
Liatris (10 total bulbs)
One of the tried and truest “prairie-type” perennials, the Liatris plant is a great textural addition to this trio with its vertical flower stalks and pineapple-like foliage. The height of this plant in its maturity (topping out at 36″ tall) makes it perfect for the backdrop of any sun perennial garden. The vibrant purple of its blooms are sure to catch the eye even when used in a property line berm or garden bed. A favorite of honeybees, butterflies, and hummingbirds!
Fireball Monarda (7 total plant starts)
A smaller version of its parent plant, the Fireball Monarda couldn’t be more perfect in this garden trio. Typically reaching no more than 18″ tall, this plant fits in the foreground of this trio with ease. This plant loves just about any kind of soil and can get by with a little less water than normal. A vigorous grower, the Monarda produces bright fiery red blooms which can be seen from quite a distance. One of hummingbirds’ favorite sources of nectar!
Garden Layout #1: Rectangular Bed
The tall height of the Liatris makes it a wonderful backdrop in this rectangular garden bed layout. Space the (10) liatris bulbs evenly in a diagonal pattern along the back half of the bed, approx. 12″ apart. Place the black-eyed Susan plant starts just below the soil surface diagonally in front of the liatris a bit further apart (15-18″ or so). Arrange the monarda to then fill in the space between the black-eyed susans and the front edge of the bed, planting them again just below the soil surface. This should fill a bed approximately 40-50 square feet in area.
Garden Layout #2: Berm Bed
As I mentioned earlier, the bright vibrant bloom colors of these three amazing plants make them excellent selections for flowerbeds or planting areas viewed from a distance, such as those in a berm or along a property line. The other characteristic of these plants which make them ideal for this application is that they are all somewhat “drought-tolerant” so can stand to be watered less often…this means less time dragging the house out to those “far reach” corners of your yard! In this layout, I wanted to show how they can easily be tucked into existing planting beds to add some color to an otherwise boring part of the landscape. Again, start with the tallest plants (the liatris) in the back, the black-eyed susans in the middle, and the monarda filling in along the front. This planting layout should be viewed simply as a guide since the location of your existing plants/trees and the shape of the bed can vary greatly depending on your particular situation.
Garden Layout #3: Circular Tree Bed
This trio is ideal for planting around a tall-growing tree since the taller height of the liatris will not be dwarfed by the massiveness of the mature (or not-so-mature) tree in the center. Start by placing the liatris approximately 8-12″ apart around the base of the tree, leaving at least 8″ of space between the center of the bulbs and the bark of the tree. Place the (5) black-eyed susans around the latris in a star pattern as shown on the diagram. Then again fill in with the monarda between the black-eyed susans and the bed edge. This layout should cover a circular bed at least 7′ in diameter.
New introductions to the landscape can definitely be fun and exciting, but there is a reason why some of them have stood the test of time. Hopefully this 3×3 Garden gave you some ideas for ways to use those tried and true perennials of the “sunny garden world”. Like the others, this trio collection is available for 50% off from Holland Bulb Farms. Click here and get started now!