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.
Pelargonium. Bright white flower with flash of purple through the center of each petal. Regal geraniums have the colourful flower clusters characteristic of other Pelargonium species, but their foliage has a grape-leaf shape. Dead head regularly to encourage more blooms. Loves the sun, good drainage and protection from frost. Evergreen perennial.
Scented Geranium Attar of Roses is an old variety of scented geranium from 1900. A vigorous grower with rose scented leaves and pink flowers. The petals and leaves from this plant have been known to be used as a flavouring for Turkish Delight. Prefers full sun and well drained soil. Perennial
Colour: Pink Habit: Bushy rounded Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 90cm x 40cm
Cranesbill. A beautiful little geranium with very striking dark purple, almost black coloured foliage and lilac flowers in summer. The foliage will remain dark throughout summer and develop red tones in autumn. Deciduous. PVR.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 35cm x 45cm
Dark green 'Ivy Leaf' foliage and semi-double pale lilac flowers from summer through to autumn make this a desirable perennial for summer colour. Great for baskets and containers or rockery walls. Loves the sun and good drainage and protection from frost. Evergreen.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Trailing Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 20cm x trailing
Distinctive dissected, variegated, foliage in shades of green and terracotta orange topped off stems of single orange blooms that appear from spring until autumn. Happy in a sunny, well drained spot with protection from frost. Fabulous in a terracotta pot. Perennial.
Colour: Orange Habit: Compact Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 30cm
Cranesbill. This plant was awarded RHS Plant of the Century at Chelsea 2013. A favourite of mine as it is easy care and flowers its head off from summer to autumn. Attractive grey-green foliage and loose clusters of long lasting mauve blooms. Likes sun or part shade and well drained soil. PVR.
If necessary during the long flowering period of 'Rozanne' you can give the plant a light trim all over to reinvigorate. It bounces back very quickly.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 40cm
Delightful, semi-double blooms decorate the trailing stems of this 'Ivy Leaf' Geranium from summer to autumn. Looks fabulous in hanging baskets, pots or trailing over banks and walls. Loves the sun, good drainage and protection from frost. Evergreen perennial.
Colour: Red Habit: Trailing Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 20cm x trailing
Blue Oat Grass. Highly desirable perennial 'grass' that has arching, blue-grey, needles of foliage that form a robust clump. Panicles of cream 'oat' like flowers appear in summer. Hardy and easy to grow as long as your soil is well drained. Looks great as an edging or mass planted. Evergreen.
Though this is generally a neat and tidy 'grass' it can be sheared back to encourage new growth if it starts to look a bit scruffy. This is usually done in late winter - just before spring.
Colour: Cream Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 60cm
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Winter Rose single. The flowering period for Helleborus Angel Glow is early winter. When they open, the flowers are light pink but they later turn a deep pink. Angel Glow also features very attractive glossy leaves beneath the flowers projecting above them. Angel Glow can tolerate both frosty temperatures and sun. Perennial
Colour: Pink / Assorted Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 45cm x 45cm
New 2 Us from the latest Ice N Roses collection Ice N Roses Rose hellebore will flower tirelessly through winter and well into spring producing gorgeous rose pink, outward facing blooms, held above the leaf. These will look great providing gorgeous winter colour in your garden or patio containers. Evergreen
The flowers are large, the plant is floriferous and flowers over a long period.
Colour: Pink Habit: Upright, clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 100cm