Want a More Colorful, Natural Garden? Try a Perennial Meadow

Perennial plants have been a favorite in gardens since the first days of the cottage garden, when the benefits of plants that were long lived, easily propagated and generally hardy due to their ability to survive winters by dying back to the ground were of importance to gardeners with little money to spend on gardening.

As our gardens evolved, so did our use of perennials. When I was a horticulture student in the 1960s, the traditional herbaceous border featured large in our garden design lectures. Today, no doubt, students learn more about the naturalistic prairie style of planting perennials, championed by Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf and landscape architecture firm Oehme van Sweden. And now there is a third generation of perennial planting, best known by some garden designers — including Michael King, writer and perennials expert — as the “perennial meadow,” which uses the best parts of both the previous formats.