Forbs in a Matrix

Forb n. A broad-leaved herb other than a grass, especially one growing in a field, prairie, or meadow.


I met with the garden designer and the hort enabler Monday evening to go over plant lists and plans for three areas of my garden that will be planted up in mid-April.

I’ve named one of the garden areas “August Dream Garden” because it is a “high summer garden” designed to peak in August – September. We’ll be planting many native prairie-type wildflowers in that area.

Slowly, the garden designer went down the list of plants… Aster, Rudbeckia, Liatris, Helenium, Vernonia, Eupatorium, Phlox, Solidago, Helianthus, Boltonia, plus a grass Schizachyrium scoparium.

She paused a few times as we reviewed the list to check to see if I would poo-poo any of the choices. You see, the garden designer and the hort enabler know I have a few plant prejudices, or as I like to call them, "likes and dislikes". (Don't judge, so do you!) They've discussed them with me.

Dr. Hortfreud and I have analyzed them, too, as I am sincerely and diligently working through my sometimes pre-conceived notions on some plants, trying my best to set them aside for the greater good of the overall garden. Well, all except one plant that I took off the list.

No, it was not the grass, Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium. According to the garden designer the grass is “the matrix in which all the other forbs will be growing”.

“The matrix in which all the other forbs will be growing”... I loved that sentence and made sure to write it down. That’s what a prairie is, flowers amongst grasses, forbs in a matrix, a lovely wildflower garden that will shine in the waning, lazy days of summer.

I’m looking forward to everything being planted, the forbs, the grasses, well, everything except the one plant I took off the list.

(This post is also in honor of Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone.)

(The picture above is of the wildflower I took off the list of plants for August Dream Garden. In that picture, it is growing up out of the compost bin. I'm sure it will still show up in my garden here and there. When it does, and it always does, I might relent and transplant a few of them to the new high summer garden. But I refuse to buy it.)


  1. Sounds lovely and well-planned. Looking forward to seeing it in full flower.

  2. That's a good mix, it's going to look wonderful. I love little bluestem. It's a great grass.

  3. What a tease...I suppose we'll never know which one didn't make the cut.

  4. Aster, Rudbeckia, Liatris, Helenium, Vernonia, Eupatorium, Phlox, Solidago, Helianthus, Boltonia, plus a grass Schizachyrium scoparium. A fantastic list for your matrix. Yes, tell us which didn't make the cut! gail

  5. It really will be an August Dream of a garden, Carol! I agree, you will probably see the Helianthus pop up anyway. Forbs, matrix, prairie. I like it! :-)

  6. Little Blue. I have 3 varieties I "borrowed" from the ditch here in Kansas. Don't blame you on the helianthus.

  7. I only learned the term forbs last year. YOu have a beautiful mix.

  8. I'm clapping my hands. Can you hear me? A meadow is one of my favorite gardens. I love them you know. I have a lot of those plants. You could just come visit, and I'll dig them for you. :)) ~~Dee

  9. I adore my meadow and I love your plant list..and I love the plant you scratched..I have found some gorgeous varieties with red stems and variegated leaves... I'll have to do a post on them for you Carol :)

  10. A high summer garden sounds like a perfect addition, Carol. Thanks for helping me realize what my butterfly/native garden bed is missing--a "matrix" for all my forbs!


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