The Forsythia’s arching branches of rich, buttery blooms adorned the early Spring landscape, which, for the most part, still seemed to be outfitted in Winter’s olive drab garb.  Here and there, Crocus sprinkled the lawn with delicate clusters of gold and lavender, while the Daffodils and Tulips seemed resolute in their push upwards and onwards.  Early Spring rains and moderate temperatures will soon encourage Spring’s palette to diversify and grow.  The wait will soon be over.

And before you know it, the rest of the landscape will follow suit, including our gardens, so if we’re going to give Matrix Gardening a go, we need to start planning now.

As you may recall, Matrix Gardening is a form of “sustainable” gardening, in the sense that plants are sited and planted strategically, so human intervention (i.e. supplemental watering, fertilizing, and pruning, etc.) are kept to an absolute minimum.  The goal is to re-create the look and function of a natural eco-system through successive layers of plantings.  Harmony and balance being key elements.

The base of a matrix garden is generally made up of grasses, sedges or both.  They are the foundation and key unifying factor, both functionally and aesthetically.  Textured layers of grasses essentially form the matrix while perennials planted in clumps or drifts add both color and structure.  As a general rule of thumb,  the matrix garden is made up of 50% grasses and 50% flowers.

When selecting and siting plants, consider how they work together above and below ground.  For example, competitive, somewhat invasive plants should be planted together as they will keep each other in check.  Likewise, well behaved, slower growing plants should be planted together.  Plants with deep roots should be planted amongst plants with shallow roots.  In this way, they won’t compete against each other but rather draw from their own resources.  Again, we’re trying to create balance.  The proper selection of plants along with siting in layers will provide year round interest and year round food source/shelter for local wildlife and pollinators.

Look to native plants for best results, and be patient.  A Matrix Garden will initially take some research, time and understanding, and be aware, the somewhat “wild” look is not for everyone.  But imagine a lovely garden of diverse plants and grasses that self regulates and self guides while benefitting the soil, environment, and wildlife season after season.  Sounds like Eden to me.

Reach out to Sweeney’s with any of your Matrix Gardening questions or concerns.  Let us help create your “Eden”.


Plant of the Week

Above pictures of Purple Prairie Clover courtesy of Midwest Groundcovers

Purple Prairie Clover

Spikes of purple flowers bloom June – August as a flowery “tutu” at the base of the spike and move upwards as the season progresses.  Clusters of dark green leaves alternate up the stem.  Prefers full sun and dry soil.  Grows 24-36″ tall and 8-12″ wide.  Has deep tap roots but is not an aggressive seeder.  Attracts butterflies, pollinators and wildlife.  Drought tolerant.

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.”

– Theodore Roethke

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney