Sustainable and Satisfying
This is one of the most satisfying gardens I created this summer. I refer to it as the "Roy Diblik Garden" because Roy Diblik, author of The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden (Timber Press 2014) inspired it. Roy is a recognized perennial plant expert who specializes in highly aesthetic sustainable plant communities. He's best known as the plantsman behind Piet Oudolf's midwestern garden designs, including the Lurie Garden in Millenium Park in Chicago.
I met Roy when he lectured at the Rochester Civic Garden Center's 2015 Spring Symposium and liked his ideas about creating plant communities. Basically, he believes that if you locate plants in locations that suit their needs and connect them with those that have similar lifestyles,they'll thrive with minimal care and maintenance.
His book is easy to follow and he includes photos of many diverse and beautiful gardens along with plans and information about the plants. After reading it, I decided to try out his ideas.
This bed was small, so I chose a limited palette of plants and arranged them in drifts of 12 or so. I substituted a few of my own when I couldn't find the varieties he specified. The plants I used were: Salvia 'Pink Friesland' and 'East Friesland', Echinacea 'White Swan','Echinacea Pow Wow Wildberry', Calamintha 'White Cloud' and Alium sphaerocaphalon. Roy's plans include many varieties of carex that he uses to knit the plants together. I chose Carex 'Flacca' because I liked the soft wiry gray foliage. It quickly filled in the bare spaces between the other plants and the whole thing melded together in a sort of impressionistic fashion that I really liked.
What I liked even better was that this garden has looked great all summer without much fussing. The annuals and herbs I had planted there before always looked bedraggled no matter what I did, due to the combination of heavy dry clay soil,and munching deer. And it was way too much work! The new bed is closely planted, so there isn't much weeding and because the plants are suited to the soil conditions, they get by with minimal watering. I was a little worried that the salvias might start looking ratty, but I kind of liked the inflourescence that was left after they bloomed. When they were totally spent, I chopped them back and now have a bunch of new flowers coming out. Truly a sustainable and beautiful planting that I plan to do more of.