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.
Drop dead gorgeous - these 'Black-eyed Angels' have tall spires of white flowers with an attractive dark eye usually described as a 'bee'. Plant in a sunny position in nice humus rich soil. It could be helpful to provide a stake for support if you live in a windy spot. Perennial.
Delphiniums are gross feeders i.e. they like lots of tucker, especially organic matter. They respond well to being planted with sheep pellets. Check out our How To page for more tips.
Colour: White / Black Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.2m x 0.4m
This sweet little Delphinium has a compact habit and long flowering period from spring through to autumn. The bright blue flowers are set against green foliage and appear on dainty stems. Feed and dead-head regularly for best results. Nice for the front of the border. Perennial.
Colour: Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 20cm
Sturdy tall stems of the prettiest semi-double to double sky blue blooms highlighted with a central white 'bee'. Really special for the back of the border. Plant in nice humus rich soil that is well drained, sun to part shade. Support with a stake if you live in a windy spot. Perennial.
Colour: Blue / White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.2m x 0.4m
A Hybrid Bee Delphinium, 'Cobalt Dreams' is a sport of 'Royal Aspirations' with even richer blue blooms. Every bloom on 'Cobalt Dreams' is a dazzling true cobalt color with a pure white bee. The uniform color and growth of 'Cobalt Dreams' ensures a magnificent architectural effect when planted en masse. Cobalt dreams is a strong upright plant that never needs staking
Tall spires of beautiful, double, white frilly flowers will make a strong impact at the back of the border. Something really special especially if you like a soft romantic look in the garden. Plant in sun to part shade in nice humus rich soil that is well drained. Perennial.
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.2m x 0.4m
A NZ bred hybrid Delphinium showing good weather and disease resistance. Tall spires of warm dusky pink blooms with soft brown centre make this a stand out plant for the back of the border. Happiest in a sunny position. Stake well, protect from slugs and snails and feed with sheep pellets. Perennial.
Colour: Pink Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.6m
Tall Delphinium 'Sir Galahad' will create an abundance of purest white flowers, towering over compact, dark green leaves. For the best results protect the young foliage against slug-damage in spring and stake the slender stems well before the flowers appear. Plant to the back of the mixed border in a sunny position.
Colour: White Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.2m
Sturdy tall stems of frilly and frothy white blooms accented with flashes pale green. Really special for the back of the border. Plant in nice humus rich soil that is well drained, sun to part shade. Support with a stake if you live in a windy spot. Feed with Sheep Pellets. Perennial.
Colour: White / Green Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.2m x 0.5m
Tall Delphiium Guinevere has beautiful tall spires of pale lavender flowers with white centres. Mid summer blooming with flowers of 1.5m in height with a spread of 45cm. Needs some shelter from the wind and some support to prevent stem breakage. Loves a sunny position in rich garden soil. Remove spent flowerhead to encourage laterals to flower.
Colour: Mauve / White Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.5m x 0.75m