Annuals, Perennials & Bulbs: Day #16

The powers that be atop the Green Spring Gardens Master Gardener program determined that we don’t have enough ways to categorize plants.

So they came up with this course, taught by my friend Karen Rexrode, a horticulturalist of four-plus decades, a brilliant and inspiring photographer and an innovative artist.

All in all, I’d rather have sat down with her and talked cameras. I would at least have had a chance.

We classify plants for a variety of reasons:

  • To make it easier to distinguish one plant from another.
  • To understand growth patterns.
  • Etc.

Karen teaches the Grime’s Triangle plus one.

It’s a kind of personality test for plants based on growth and survival patterns. GT+1 classifies plants according to four survival strategies:

  • Stress Tolerators – Grow slow; flower earlier rather than later; tough evergreen leaves or tough small leaves. Think hellebores.
  • Stress Avoiders – Grow seasonally; often flower early; long periods of dormancy. Think bulbs.
  • Ruderal, or Pioneer – Fast growing; showy flowers and flower over a long period; die young. Think larkspur and biennials.
  • Competitors – Grow fast to occupy space; large soft leaves; extend shoots to occupy vacant space. Think asters, salvias, hardy geraniums.

I find this categorization useful because it responds to my needs and my novice ability to express those needs. For instance, I want something that grows fast and has pretty flowers. Hmm. Sounds like a pioneer to me.

But to each his own system.


Horticulture is very humbling.

You got that right. If I get any humbler, I’ll be compost.

Lessons Learned

  • Should have stuck with photography.


The best perennials provide color, beauty, and pollen or nectar for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.


  • Geophytes – Herbaceous plants with underground storage organs rather than fibrous root systems. Think bulbs, but include corms, tubers, rhizomes and “other structures.”

Today’s Photo

I’m quite sure it’s either an annual, a perennial or a bulb. I took the photo Tuesday (Nov. 1) at Green Spring so there’s plenty of color still to be seen there, not to mention the trees turning.


Read up on Landscape Design.

2 thoughts on “Annuals, Perennials & Bulbs: Day #16

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