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.
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
Japanese Anemone. Dark green foliage and tall stems of pink open faced flowers that emerge from tight little buds for the late summer and autumn garden. Superb cutting. Plants prefer a rich, moist site. Compact selection with small, semi-double rosy-mauve blossoms. Good for part shade. Perennial
This is tough and hardy and spreads by strong fibrous roots so give it room to spread and you will be well rewarded.
Colour: Pink / Yellow Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.5m x spreads
Japanese anemone. One of the glories going into autumn, single pure white flowers with yellow stamens. Flowers inautumn and again in summer. Prefers full sun or shade in well drained soils. Flowerspikes 70cm. Ideal for woodland planting where it will spread quickly. Perennial
Colour: White / Yellow Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 70cm x Spreads
Great for late summer, early autumn colour. Lady in blue has double showy rich blue flowers which are good for cutting.. Happiest in a sunny position with soil that does not completely dry out. Perennial.
Colour: Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 35cm x 50cm
This late summer, early autumn flowering perennial has pretty ruby red daisy like flowers. Easily grown in a sunny position and looks awesome planted in a perennial border or any garden planting. Perennial
Colour: Red Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 50cm
Morning Glory Bush. Two Moons has mostly white flowers, with some lilac flowers appearing too. Flowers from late spring through to autumn. Prefers an open sunny position in the garden, with well drained soil.
Colour: White / Mauve Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 60cm
A great little groundcover or edging plant. Grass-like dark green foliage that forms a clump and spreads. Spikes of dainty white flowers appear in summer and autumn followed by black berries. Drought and shade tolerant. Evergreen.
Best in full shade (Tony)
Colour: White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x spreads
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 50cm
This is a hardy hot and dry tolerant plant. Aromatic foliage spreads and trails, deep plum coloured bracts intensify in colour from late spring to autumn. The colourful display of these lovely ground cover plants will retain their showy display into Autumn. Low maintenance plant. Perennial
Origanum ‘Bellissimo’ is extremely tolerant of hot and dry situations therefore lending itself well to ground cover use or in pots or as a showy weeping enhancement to trail over walls and embankments
Colour: Red Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x spreading