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 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
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
A quick growing and rewarding perennial ground-cover that forms bold rosettes of foliage and spreads by under-ground runners. In early spring spikes of beautiful bright blue flowers appear en masse. Prefers a semi-shaded spot with protection from hot afternoon sun. Evergreen.
It is important that Ajuga does not completely dry out in hot dry summer conditions.
Colour: Blue Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 20cm x spreads
Black Taro is popular for its spectacular 1.5m high blackish-purple foliage on black stems. Perfect as a mass planting or as a stunning specimen in a pot/ container. Can be used near water. Fast growing and relatively easy care but needs protection from frost. depending on the tempature they can be evergreen or deciduous.
Colour: Cream Habit: Clumping Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.5m x 2m
A handsome tree aloe which has orange to red candelabra type flowers in winter. Excellent as a garden specimen or as a tub plant. Best in well drained conditions. Ideal for coastal areas. Drought tolerant. Hardy. 1.2m x 1m in 7 years.
Colour: Orange / Red Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.2m x 1m
A striking succulent which forms a low rosette. The leaf margins are terracotta in colour and pinkish red flowers are borne on 1metre spikes. Excellent for pots and tubs. Best in full sun and well drained conditions. Easy care.
Colour: Pinkish red Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: cm x cm
Bright golden yellow flowers with red speckles. Tough, compact garden plant. Flowers from spring through to autumn and are great for cutting. Plant in sun or part shade in well drained acid soil for best results. Perennial.
Colour: Yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 35cm
Peruvian Lily- Inca Series. Variegated foliage with a hint of pink on the edges combines with the deep orange blooms to put on a dazzling display from summer to autumn. Bred to remain compact and well behaved in the garden. Plant in sun or part shade in well drained acid soil. Perennial.
Colour: Orange Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 50cm