Working on Perennial Sequences

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I spent the last week camping in an intentional community on the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee.

It’s still spring here. At home, in the coastal plane, it’s summer. Here it is full-on spring time! I mean phlox and iris and all, in full color.

Even in the woods every green that there ever was or will be flanks the canopy. So rich that all night we could hear bug poop falling from the trees, hitting the tent. Man, nothing like that to remind you that you are a part of rich and living cycle.

On the forest floor, plants that fit beautifully into our gardens—Trillium, bloodroot, stargrass and barren strawberry and Christmas Fern. They sprint, they are a burst of energy before the canopy fills out completely, sun light and poop falling now, will stop soon and all those spring ephemerals slowly go back underground.

The moment in the sun, then waiting out the shade and the heat for the cycle next spring.

Perennial Sequences

This cycle can inspire your perennial borders. Not the plants exactly, though some of them grow beautifully across most of the country. No, I mean using the idea of sequencing, of planting things that come up early, then get covered by something else, who gets covered later and so forth and everyone’s happy being where they are, waiting for their moment to come again next year.

Here’s a sequences I’ve been working on:

Lecujoum or Snow Drop, Late March

Trillium, Late April

Phlox pilosa, Early May

Crinum bulbispermum, Mid May

Kalemeris incisa, Early June

Hydrangea arborescens ‘Ryan Gainey,’ Mid June

All these plants will be pretty much planted together, side by side. No other design. Each plant in the list, a bit later and bit bigger than the plant before it, so there is not much clean up needed from you during the season.

Over the years, they’ll each find their preferred space, come out and do their thing, as their moment and their sun dwindles, they get ready for the cycle of being covered up, eclipsed by the next in line.

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