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.
The deepest, darkest, wine coloured blooms of this deliciously, decadent lily appear from early summer. The flowers are upward facing and decorate the strong stems. I consider this Lily a must have. Plant in a sunny well drained spot. Deciduous.
'Black Out' can also be grown in a container and will tolerate 1/2 day sun. Will quickly multiply to create more flowering stems each year.
Colour: Red Habit: Multiplying Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x spreads
Christmas Lily. Glossy green foliage and stems of exquisite, pure white, trumpet blooms with the most exotic of perfumes. Usually in full bloom just around Christmas hence the name. Will grow in full or 1/2 day sun and if happy will multiply and produce more stems each year. Deciduous.
Grow your Christmas Lilies in a container or the garden. As I write my 'Snow Queen' are standing tall with at least 6 buds on each stem, 1 stem when open will be enough to perfume the whole house. A pot of these in bud or flower is the perfect gift for a special gardening friend.
Colour: White Habit: Multiplying Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 80cm x multiplies
A perennial Statice that has a rosette of large leathery leaves topped off in summer with stems of dainty deep mauve flowers. Lovely to pick and excellent for drying. Happiest in a sunny well drained spot. Perfect for coastal gardens.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 30cm
If you want a tough and easy to grow ground cover or edging plant then it would be hard to go past Liriope Blue Skies. Strong grass-like dark green foliage that forms a clump and spreads. Spikes of dainty light blue flowers appear throughout summer. Tolerates sun or part shade. Evergreen.
Colour: Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x spreads
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 wonderful little perennial for mass planting or edging pathways or borders. Grass like glossy dark green foliage that quickly forms a clump and continues to spread. In summer stems of pretty little lavender blue flowers appear en masse. Easy to grow in sun or part shade. Evergreen.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x spreads
If you want a tough and easy to grow ground cover or edging plant then it would be hard to go past Liriope Royal Purple. Strong grass-like dark green foliage that forms a clump and spreads. Spikes of dainty purple flowers appear throughout summer. Tolerates sun or part shade. Evergreen.
Colour: Purple Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x spreadscm
This Aussie perennial known there as Echidna grass is a fine, short, lime green lomandra that forms neat rounded clumps. It is resilient, drought tolerant and makes a great foliage feature in rockeries, borders or potted. Plant it en masse for a stunning display. Easy to care for and maintain. Evergreen
Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 30cm
Evergreen Baby is tough, super compact and handles periodic wet feet. This compact Lomandra is almost half the size of Tanika Lomandra. It has masses of flowers, is sterile and extremely tough, being tolerant of wet feet and drought, performing well in full sun and shade and thrives in hot or cold conditions all whilst remaining extremely evergreen. Perennial
Colour: Yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 45cm x 45cm
This Aussie perennial is ideal for group planting in sun or part shade. Fine needles of lime-green foliage form an attractive clump and look good all year round. Little stems of yellow fragrant flowers in summer. Tolerates poor soil but likes good drainage. Easy to grow. Evergreen.
Colour: Yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 50cm