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.
An award winning Delphium bred right here in NZ. A real 'Sweetie' with tall spires of large frilly flowers in tones of pink highlighted with a central white zone called a 'bee'. Plant in a sunny spot in nice humus rich soil. Support with a stake if you have a windy garden. Perennial.
Delphiniums love organic matter and respond well to being fed with Sheep Pellets. 'Sweethearts' was trialled at the RHS gardens and performed so well that they were give an Award of Garden Merit.
Colour: Pink Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 50cm
Stems of multiple, creamy white, butterfly shaped orchid blooms that are heavily fragrant wave at you through from tall, cane like stems and deep green, glossy, oval leaves. Likes morning light and afternoon shade. Excellent for container growing in free draining mix. Evergreen.
Colour: Assorted Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.5m x 0.75m
Pink. Pale pink/white double flowers are shot through with explosions of hot pink stripes. Long, strong stems and sweet perfume makes Pinball Wizard ideal for fresh posies and arrangements. An extremely strong scented variety. Neat and tidy habit. Loves the sun and good drainage and soil that is on the light side. Evergreen. PVR.
Colour: Pink / White Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
A popular member of the Iris family with narrow green sword like foliage and strong stems of open butterfly like blooms. The blooms have white falls with mauve standards and a splash of gold in the centre. Plant in sun or semi-shade and protect from harsh frost. Evergreen perennial.
Dietes grandiflora is a dramatic landscaping plant when planted en masse and allowed to multiply. I've actually got one growing in a large terracotta pot which looks pretty good too.
Colour: White / Purple Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 100cm x 60cm
Like a fat slice of dark chocolate cake for your garden, this near-black succulent produces dense clumps of rosettes with leaves emerging green before darkening to a sumptuous chocolatey brown. Easy to grow in soil with good drainage. Extra showy, bright red flowers appear in Autumn or Winter. Tolerates some shade, but chocolate colour is best in full sun. Evergreen
Colour: Red Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 25cm x 25cm
Now this is a beautiful succulent with almost floral characteristics.It produces lovely green pink curled leaves creating the floral effect as the rosettes grow. Loves the nice cosy warmth in a sheltered corner or will happily grow in a pot or the garden. Drought tolerant.
This perennial commonly called sea holly has cool prickly like flowers in steel blue shades that look fab in the garden. These unusual blooms are suitable for drying and using in floral arrangements. Loves a sunny well drained spot at the front of the garden.
Colour: Purple Habit: Compact bushy Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
Wallflower. A very rewarding shrubby perennial with long-lasting dainty blooms of purple that appear on and off all year round, The blooms carry a sweet scent. Plant in a sunny well drained spot and trim lightly after every flush of flowers to keep neat and tidy. Evergreen.
Colour: Purple Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 50cm
Ascot Jade will provide year round interest, is hardy and drought tolerant therefore suitable for containers, water-wise or coastal gardens. The striking foliage is best described as dark jade, providing a great hardy foliage plant as a background in the garden. The enchanting lime green-creamy flowers appear from late winter to early spring.