Speaking as a mainly shrub+ground-cover kinda gardener who goes easy on the perennials because I find them to be more labor-intensive, I did a major double-take when writer Suzy Bales told me this perennial border in her Long Island garden is almost no work at all. Really? She stands by her assertion that a well-established perennial border – and this one’s more than 20 years old – is SO full, it takes care of itself. Because there’s no bare ground, the weeds are very few and far between. Also, there’s no staking required because everything is held up by its neighbors. So all that’s required is the yearly chopping down of the old, weeding, and I assume mulching, plus watering as needed (which is easy enough with a well-designed irrigation system like hers).
Nearby are the shorter, less cram-packed borders at the magnificent public garden Old Westbury, where they make no claims about low-maintenance. This baby has to look stunning every day of the season, so they use lots of annuals to fill up empty spaces.
Now about my own perennial borders (if you can call them that).
For me, perennials are always needing to be moved, divided, hacked back, or
simply given up on for something more vigorous. But maybe it’s just me – because I don’t buy enough of them and/or give them enough time to prove themselves.
Please, weigh in. Tell us about your perennial-gardening.
Spray Roses? No Way
Now here’s something I don’t doubt for a moment – that the dozens of roses in Suzy’s garden are easy – because I know she never sprays them – no exceptions! Many are fragrant, many bloom more than once. All look healthy and lush.
Here’s the whole spring rose tour on Suzy’s website, with all the plant names.
Lower photos by me, taken June 7 of this year. Top photo by Suzy – coz my own photos of that border kinda suck.