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. 7/10 yrs: 10cm x 30cm
A low carpet of medium-sized leaves in an attractive bronze-purple shade. Foliage takes on metallic overtones on mature summer leaves especially if planted in full sun. Short spikes of blue flowers are an added bonus in mid to late spring. Prefers filtered light. Performs well in containers. Evergreen in warm climates.
Colour: Blue Habit: Ground cover Est. Hgt. 7/10 yrs: 10cm x 30cm
Alchemilla mollis 'Thriller' is larger and more robust than the species, forming mounds of lobed, grayish-green fuzzy leaves topped by airy yellow flowers in spring. It is best in moist soil in part shade. Great as a groundcover or for cutting.
The common name for this perennial is Lady's Mantle. The wavy edged leaves are meant to represent the cloak or mantle that covered Mary as she travelled to Bethlehem.
Colour: Green / Yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt. 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
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. 7/10 yrs: 60cm 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. 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. 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. 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. 7/10 yrs: 90cm x 110cm
Tall Bearded Iris. A truly rich deep blue, self coloured, iris with gold beard and striped hafts. Beautifully contrasted by grey sword lie foliage that forms a clump. Multiplies well. Loves the sun and good drainage. Plant with the rhizome exposed. Perennial.
Colour: Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt. 7/10 yrs: 1.2m x NaNm
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. A stunning self coloured bearded iris. This soft velvet blue iris with deep violet veining and gold beard looks beautiful in mass. Sword like grey foliage that forms a clump. Multiplies well. Loves the sun and good drainage. Plant with the rhizome exposed. Perennial.
This unnamed variety is a gorgeous soft lilac blue, self coloured tall bearded iris with white beard and hafts. Sword like grey foliage that forms a clump. Multiplies well. Loves the sun and good drainage. Plant with the rhizome exposed. Perennial.
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. 7/10 yrs: 25cm x spreads
A grass-like perennial that forms tactile little clumps of very fine foliage. The soft dense mats look fabulous along pathways or edges. Small flowers hide amongst the foliage and are followed by little berries. Grow in full sun or part shade. Evergreen.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt. 7/10 yrs: 5cm
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. 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. 7/10 yrs: 40cm x Spreading