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.
One of the most attractive grassy textured plants available. Fine evergreen soft golden yellow foliage that will make a superb edging plant. Easily grown in all soil conditions taking sun shade and extreme wet. Ideal for those trouble spots.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 10cm x 10cm
Sweet Flag - A miniature and attractive version of this little grassy perennial from Japan. Forms neat clumps of weeping green leaves on short rhizomes both of which have a sweet cinnamon fragrance, especially when dried. Ideal for boggy spots or at pond/stream edges. Quite hardy and easy to grow. Semi-evergreen.
Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 10cm x 10cm
Gorgeous shrub with lacy dark foliage. New foliage emerges green and darkens to a dark purple/black colour. Upward curving spikes of white bottlebrush flowers, which are beautifully scented appear in summer. Prefers moist humus-rich soil conditions and requires a lot of water to grow. Plant in sun to part shade.
A dwarf Agapanthus white fresh green strappy foliage topped off with gorgeous white flowers for months on end. The flowers are eco-friendly in that they are virtually sterile, i.e. seedless. For maximum impact plant in large drifts. Evergreen.
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 50cm
This dwarf variety developed in NZ is highly valued as it does not easily set seed. With a generous flowering habit and rounded flower heads that are shaded an intense blue it is a worthy garden plant. Easy to grow. Happiest in sun but will tolerate part shade. Perennial. PVRHOM162
Colour: Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x spreadscm
This NZ bred Agapanthus is dwarf in habit. The strap shaped green foliage will form a neat clump. In summer stems of silvery white flowers edged with ice blue put on a lovely display. Hardy and tolerant and easy to grow. Good for mass planting. Can cope with dry coastal conditions. Perennial.
Colour: White / Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 60cm
This darling little Agapanthus has wide, short, strappy green leaves and sturdy stems of white 'snowball' flowers that appear throughout the summer. Well behaved in that it does not seed everywhere and forms a nice compact clump. Happy in the sun. Hardy, perennial.
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40 x 0.6cm
A fabulous dwarf Agapanthus that is well behaved and tidy. Strap like green leaves form a neat clump and from mid spring onwards multiple stems of mid blue flowers appear continuously for months. So easy to grow. Lovely to pick. Evergreen.
Colour: Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 50cm
Here's something a little different - a variegated Agapanthus. Striking foliage in shades of cream and green combines well with very pretty sky blue flowers that appear in summer. A sterile form that will not seed "willy nily". Forms a compact clump, looks great planted in groups of 3 or more. Perennial.
Colour: Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 15cm x 60cm