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
'Snow in Summer' is so named as the tiny silver grey leaves are smothered in star-shaped white flowers throughout the summer. A sweet little perennial which is perfect to cascade over walls and hot dry banks. Quite vigorous and hardy. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 10cm x spreading
This is one of the wonders of the plant world. Handsome grey succulent leaves a metre or more long form a large rosette on top of a metre tall trunk and, when inclined after several years, it sends up a flower stem 4 to 5 metres tall which holds weeping branches carrying hundreds of greeny white bell flowers. Evergreen.
Colour: Cream Habit: Rosette Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 2m x 2m
Sparkle White forms a mound of narrow, green leaves with airy arching stems of dainty white flowers tinged pink from late spring through to late summer. Great for containers, edging or in the rock garden. When flowering enmasse they give the impression of butterflies in flight when the wind moves them. Perennial
Colour: White / Pink Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 60cm
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.
Tall Bearded Iris. This delightful tall bearded iris has soft peach standards with a deep violet wash through lilac falls and tangerine beard. Sword like grey foliage that forms a clump. Multiplies well. Loves the sun and good drainage. Plant with the rhizome exposed. Perennial.
Iris Bearded Peach and violet Tall
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A tough little Aussie with attractive, lime green needles of foliage that form a neat rounded clump. Will grow in sun or part shade and once established is tolerant of just about any conditions including long dry periods. Looks best planted in groups or drifts. Evergreen.
Colour: Cream Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 40cm
Dwarf Catmint. Go on make the cat happy and plant at least one of this easy care and pretty perennial. Aromatic grey-green foliage topped off with blue flowers that appear off and on from spring to autumn. Tidy with a quick trim and fresh foliage soon appears. Likes the sun and good drainage. Evergreen.
Catmint looks good as a low edging for borders or as a link plant amongst groups of perennials. Cats do love this plant so be prepared to have at least some of it rolled on, licked and generally loved by your cat. This will induce feverish activity followed by deep slumber!
Colour: Blue Habit: Mounding Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 0.3m x 0.3m
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
Native. A delightful little ground cover that is great for rock gardens, growing over walls and banks. The dainty foliage is a soft grey/green colour and small fragrant white flowers appear from spring to autumn. Prefers a sunny spot in the garden with well drained soil. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 15cm x 100cm
This pin-cushion bush displays masses of blue flowers above dark green foliage. The flowers are excellent for fresh cut flower arrangements, or left on the plant. Perfect for mass planting in the perennial border. Happy in sun or partial shade. Remove dead flower heads to encourage repeat flowering. Evergreen Perennial.
Colour: Blue Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: cm x cm