The Perennial Collection was established in 1982 and is one of the most colorful places on the Iowa Arboretum grounds during the summer months. Since many perennials are grown for their flowers, this collection highlights plants with different bloom times or exceptionally long periods of bloom. Both native and introduced species and their cultivars are displayed. The central border was redesigned in 2008 by Ann Hutchins of Des Moines to include newer perennials and a variety of unusual ornamental grasses recently introduced into commerce.
Both exotic and native grasses were used in a 2008
naturalistic planting designed by Ann Hutchins of Des Moines. You could call it a
“no Miscanthus border” although a spectacular new variegated Miscanthus
cultivar, ‘Gilded Tower’, was allowed to sneak in. The bed was bermed and
provided with a good cover of pine bark mulch. Several varieties of fescues,
variegated feather reed grasses, switchgrasses, fountain grasses, sedges,
gramas, Indian grasses, and moor grasses were selected. My personal favorites
among these new grasses, also admired by our visitors, are featured below.
To better display grasses as they might be used in a home garden, we chose
accompaniments from among the sophisticated new cultivars of coneflowers
(Echinacea), false indigo (Baptisia), asters (Aster), blanket flowers (Gaillardia),
coreopsis (Coreopsis), salvias (Salvia), catmints (Nepeta), bee balms (Monarda),
goldenrods (Solidago), sunflowers (Heliopsis), and black-eyed susans
(Rudbeckia). These are all low-maintenance plants that blend well with grasses.
I especially like Coreopsis ‘Jethro Tull’, several Echinacea cultivars of the ‘Big
Sky’ series, and Gaillardia ‘Amber Wheels’.
*This collection site is under construction. Thank you for your patience. Date: February 1, 2018.