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 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
Butterfly Flower. A very pretty summer flowering perennial with dark green foliage and tall wands of little pink and white flowers that dance in the breeze. Likes the sun, good drainage and fairly light soil. Cut back after flowering. PVR.
Colour: Pink / White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 80cm
A quick growing and pretty perennial that has dainty stems of little pink flowers that dance and delight in the summer breeze. The foliage is green with just a hint of purple. Loves the sun and light well drained soil. Can be cut back quite hard after flowering. Perennial.
Colour: Pink Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 35cm
Pure white butterfly shaped flowers smother the stems, a delight in both the vase and the garden from late spring through to winter. Gaura ‘So White’ has both a clean, disease free foliage and a compact habit. Attracts butterflies. A very easy-care, rewarding perennial which grows easily in sunny situations.
Colour: White Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30/40cmcm x cm
Set your garden on fire with this brightly coloured daisy. The large, radiant blooms are a combination of maroon and yellow stripes set against dark green foliage. Loves a well drained, sunny spot and protection from harsh frost. Will form a large clump with plenty of flowers. Perennial.
Colour: Brown / Yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 50cm
Large semi double flowers in shades of lemon, white and maroon make this perennial daisy a winner. The flowers appear from spring through autumn. Happiest in warm sunny position and tolerant of drought, coastal conditions and light frost. (PVR 2120). Evergreen.
Colour: Yellow / Red Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 50cm
Large semi double flowers in shades of lemon and pale yellow make this perennial daisy a winner. The flowers appear from spring through autumn. Happiest in warm sunny position and tolerant of drought, coastal conditions and light frost. Evergreen.
Colour: Yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
This really is a beautiful Gazania with large double flowers in soft tones of amber, honey and terracotta offset with silver-green foliage. Loves a hot well drained position, happy at the beach but best protected from harsh frost. Perennial.
This is one of my favourite plants to combine with terracotta. 'Sunset Jane' will appreciate regular dead-heading and will eventually form quite a large clump.
This is a Gazania with a definite WOW factor. Huge bright red blooms with a dark centre that stand well above the foliage on tall stems. The flowers appear from spring until autumn. Happiest in a warm sunny position, tolerant of drought, coastal conditions and light frost. Evergreen.
Colour: Red Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 50cm
Large flamboyant flowers in tones of salmon pink will delight in summer planting schemes. Use as a bedding plant or in pots and containers. Robust, break resistant foliage is mid green. Dead head regularly to encourage more blooms. Loves the sun and good drainage and protection from harsh frost. Evergreen, perennial.
Colour: Salmon / Pink Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 45cm x 35cm