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
The scarlet-red and golden-yellow bicolor blooms are fun and unique and the plant is very heat tolerant. When the temperatures get cool in autumn the flowers turn burnt orange. These bright shades are great for summer planters and garden beds. Perennial
Colour: Orange / Red Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
Bidens Rockstar has flowers twice the size of any previous Biden varieties so makes a real splash of gold in your garden, baskets or pots. The bright yellow flowers are borne in profusion throughout the season. In warmer areas they flower right through the winter. They do best growing in full sun. Perennial
Colour: Yellow Habit: Mounded Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 25cm x 40cm
Bluebeard. Dark Knight has gorgeous fragrant deep purple flowers that appear at the end of Summer. This variety is more upright and densely branched than other Bluebeards. Prefers full sun and well drained soil.
Colour: Purple Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.2m x 1.2m
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
A carpet of shiny, deep green leaves brushed with bronze provides wonderful contrast for the rose-pink flowers which begin to appear in early summer. The leaves are not deeply cut; rather they are relatively wide with rounded lobes which compliment the rounded shape of the flower petals. Standing only 4 inches tall, this cultivar acts as a weed-smothering groundcover in the garden.
Colour: Pink Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 10cm x 30cm
Bred as a hardy hot and dry tolerant ornamental plant, Origanum ‘Bellissimo’ is distinctively different. The aromatic foliage spreads and trails producing deep plum coloured bracts which intensify in colour from late spring throughout summer. Because bracts are responsible for the colourful display means these lovely ground cover plants will retain their showy display right into the Autumn.
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
Salvia So Cool Violet has intense violet-mauve flowers and complementing green foliage. Has a compact and dense, clump forming habit. Dry tolerant once established. Great for garden beds and containers. Prune after flowering to encourage aster re-bloom and a compact habit.
Colour: Violet Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 70cm x 100cm
Beautiful yellow flowers covering a compact, semi trailing plant that is ideal for pots, hanging baskets or as a border plant. The leaves are small, green and glossy while the flowers are small but floriferous and requiring only a minimum of care. Perennial
Colour: Yellow Habit: Compact rounded Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
This magical plant will dazzle you year round with myriads of fragrant, purple pincushion flowers. These are loved by Red Admiral Butterflies. Perfect for mass planting in the perennial border. Happy in sun or partial shade. Remove dead flower heads to encourage repeat flowering. Perennial.
Colour: Purple Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 40cm