Plants for a Matrix-Style Garden

Fine Gardening – Issue 201
Matrix-Style Garden
Photo: Adam Woodruff

When you garden with a matrix-style design, different plants can play different roles in the landscape. Here are some ideas to get your designs going.

Planting plan details

illustration of matrix-style planting


Lambs ears
Lambs’ ears. Photo: Jennifer Benner

Matrix plants

  • Bloody geranium (Geranium sanguineum and cvs., Zones 3–9)
  • Lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina and cvs., Zones 4–8)
  • Moor grass (Molinia spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9)
  • Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa, Zones 4–9)
  • Wild ginger (Asarum canadense, Zones 4–6)


Globe thistle
Globe thistle. Photo: Michelle Gervais

Primary plants

  • ‘Chocolate’ white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima ‘Chocolate’, Zones 4–9)
  • Globe thistle (Echinops spp. and cvs., Zones 3–8)
  • ‘Jindai’ tatarian aster (Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’, Zones 4–8)
  • ‘Matrona’ sedum (Hylotelephium ‘Matrona’, Zones 3–9)
  • Siberian iris (Iris sibirica cvs., Zones 3–8)


Northwind switchgrass
‘Northwind’ switchgrass.
Photo: Michelle Gervais

Scatter plants

  • Blazing star (Liatris spicata and cvs., Zones 3–9)
  • Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum and cvs., Zones 3–9)
  • ‘Northwind’ switchgrass (Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’, Zones 4–9)
  • Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina, Zones 3–8)
  • ‘Sun King’ aralia (Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’, Zones 3–9)

More on naturalistic gardens:

Steve Aitken is editor at large.

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