In designing with plants, it is the perennials that ensure that there is constant change, and that there is always an element of surprise or interest in the garden.
Getting to know the dormant and flowering periods of the plants is essential to achieving the right balance in the design, so that as one perennial goes to sleep, another awakens.
Perennials, perhaps more than any other group of plants, are available in a huge range of colours, forms, textures and fragrances in both foliage and flower. There are perennials suitable for almost every area of the garden: from full sun to full shade, in large gardens or small beds and to suit every mood or style. Popular perennial plants include Penstemon, Gaura, Canna, Dahlias, Salvias, Lupins, Columbines, Lilies, Delphiniums and Hellebores - oh! the list is endless.
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A perennial plant (Latin per, "through", annum, "year") is a plant that lives for more than two years, unlike an Annual which grows, sets seed, gayly disperses it and then dies - all in a single season. Perennial plants are divided into two large groups: those that are woody and those that are herbaceous. They can be short-lived (only a few years) or they can be long-lived, and can vary in size from only a few millimeters to over 10 meters tall. They include a wide assortment of plant groups from Ferns to the highly diverse flowering plants like Orchids and Ornamental Grasses.
Perennials typically grow structures that allow them to adapt to living from one year to the next. These structures include bulbs, tubers, woody crowns, rhizomes plus others. They might have specialized stems or crowns that allow them to survive periods of dormancy over cold or dry seasons during the year. Many perennials have adapted to survive under extreme environmental conditions: some can survive hot dry conditions, or cold temperatures. These plants tend to invest a lot of resource into their adaptations and often do not flower and set seed until after a few years of growth.
Many perennials produce relatively large seeds, which can have an advantage as they produce larger seedlings after germination that can better compete with other plants or more quickly develop leaves, ensuring their survival.
In warmer climates, perennials grow continuously. In seasonal climates, their growth is limited to the growing season. For example, in temperate regions a perennial plant may grow and bloom during the warm part of the year, with the foliage dying back in the winter. These plants are deciduous perennials. Regrowth is from existing stem tissue. In some species, perennials retain their foliage all year round; these are evergreen perennials. Come in and take a look around. We've always got something pretty, perky and persuasive in the perennial line.
This ground cover has good contrast of erect, deep blue flowers with burnished purple foliage in Spring. It spreads by surface runners in the same way as a strawberry plant and can spread indefinitely. Excellent for moist areas. Wonderful for a shady border. Frost hardy trouble-free plant. Perennial.
Colour: Purple Habit: Ground cover Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 10cm x 30cm
Dwarf Canna. Lush foliage and stems of pretty salmon pink blooms will add a warm tropical look to the summer garden. Loves the sun and soil that does not dry out completely in summer. Cut back hard to the ground after flowering and mulch the rhizomes for winter protection. Perennial.
Colour: Pink Habit: Clumping Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 60cm
Seasonal soft pinks decorate the basal sheaths as the leaves give way to bold flowering displays that later produce purple blue berries. Great in the garden for borders or mass planting, looks great as container plant bring with it a strong structural upright element. Low maintenance, hardy, drought tolerant and tolerates shady aspects or full sun. Evergreen
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 50cm
Foxglove. The majestic spikes of white, tubular flowers from this pure white form of our native foxglove are perfect when planted in drifts through a partially shaded border, or when used to illuminate the edge of a woodland garden. Easy to grow in soil that is not too dry. Will tolerate the sun but prefers a little light shade. Hardy. Perennial
Remove spent flower stalks to encourage more blooms. Did you know that Digitalis have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times and are still used in treating heart ailments today? However don't try this at home folks!
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 60cm
Stunning large vibrant orange flowers atop a shorter fuller plant. Drought tolerant and wonderful for container growing, garden edging or as a ground cover. Producing more uniform flowering than other gazania varieties. Perennial
Colour: Orange Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
Blue Oat Grass. Highly desirable perennial 'grass' that has arching, blue-grey, needles of foliage that form a robust clump. Panicles of cream 'oat' like flowers appear in summer. Hardy and easy to grow as long as your soil is well drained. Looks great as an edging or mass planted. Evergreen.
Though this is generally a neat and tidy 'grass' it can be sheared back to encourage new growth if it starts to look a bit scruffy. This is usually done in late winter - just before spring.
Colour: Cream Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 60cm
What a gorgeous confection of foliage this perennial is. The rose pink leaves are big and bold and deepen in tone to purple-pink. Stems of tiny cream bells appear in summer. Quickly forms a 'berry' nice clump. Happiest in morning sun in soil that does not completely dry out. Perennial.
For full impact use this easy to grow perennial in groups or as an edging plant.
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 45cm x 45cm
Large enough and showy enough to use as specimen plants with dramatic large, rounded-heart shaped leaves with an attractive puckered surface, in a soft blue green hue. Early summer brings trumpet shaped blossoms, in white with a kiss of lavender. Happy in semi-shaded position in soil that does not dry out in summer. Perennial.
Colour: White / Lavender Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 90cm x 110cm
Tall Bearded Iris. Luscious dusky violet falls with striped hafts, gold beard and smoky lilac standards. Sword like grey foliage that forms a clump. Multiplies well. Loves the sun and good drainage. Plant with the rhizome exposed. Perennial.
Lomandra Dalliance is a variety that is super tough, drought hardy, compact, evergreen, a grass that will thrive where most other plants won’t. A good choice for a low maintenance garden. It grows from underground rhizomes. Frost hardy, even flood tolerant. It has a symmetrical shape with narrow, upright, slightly pendulous, strong foliage. Evergreen
Colour: Golden yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 50cm
Black Mondo Grass. This unique perennial has distinctive stiff purple-black foliage which clumps together to form little mounds that can be used as a ground cover or edging. Small lilac flowers appear in summer followed by shiny black berries. Evergreen.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 25cm x spreads
An award winning perennial for the summer garden. Stems of bell like flowers that are pure white open from blush pink buds. Likes a nice sunny spot with good air circulation and fertile soil to do well. Cut off spent flower stalks to encourage new blooms. Perennial. RHS AGM.
Colour: White / Pink Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 70cm x 40cm
Native. Dainty deep green leaves that quickly form a low mat of tight foliage. In spring and summer myriads of starry shaped white flowers dance above the foliage, followed by fleshy red berries. Plant in sun or part shade in well drained soil that does not completely dry out in summer. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Ground-cover Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: G/C
Rosemary. A classic culinary herb suitable for use in all manner of dishes but especially with lamb. Attractive aromatic foliage and pretty blue flowers that appear mostly in summer. Use as a herb, ornamental shrub or for hedging. Prefers the sun and good drainage. Bees love it. Evergreen.
Colour: Blue Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.3m x 1m
Stachys lanata is better known as Lamb's Ear, this silver, woolly leaved plant makes great ground cover. Furry spikes carrying small purple flowers are produced in the middle of summer. Well drained soil reduces rotting of hairy leaves, and loves full sun or some shade.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Ground cover Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x Spreading
This delightful and dainty little Thyme is perfect for use as a ground-cover in a warm sunny well drained position or just enjoy some in a pot. The little bright green leaves are smothered by dainty white flowers in summer. Forms a neat and tidy mat. Evergreen.
Can be used for culinary purposes if desired. Trim lightly after flowering to keep compact and avoid over fertilizing as generally Thyme are best left to their own devices.
Colour: White Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 10cm x 30cm