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.
Another little Aussie native with attractive, green needles of foliage that form a neat rounded clump. Will grow in sun or part shade and once established is tolerant of just about any conditions including long dry periods. Looks best planted in groups or drifts. Evergreen.
Colour: Yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 50cm
This tough little Aussie is a great plant for mass planting in difficult spots. Tolerant of poor soil and coastal conditions, sun or part shade. The deep green narrow strap like leaves quickly form a clump. Small, yellow, fragrant flowers in spring. Evergreen. PVR LM300.
Colour: Yellow Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 65cm
This variegated Lomandra is beautiful and soft with small yellow flowers from April to October. The lightly coloured foliage provides great contrast in the garden. Handles full sun but prefers light to moderate shade. Tolerant of drought and frost. Avoid wet feet. Grows to H 60cm x W 65cm.
Colour: Yellow Habit: Upright Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 60cm x 65cm
This is a tall addition to the garden and often placed at the back of the border.
It is a good idea to start a new plant every few years. Lovage prefers a rich soil that retains moisture well. It likes full sun in cool climates or partial shade where summers are very hot.
Leaves and stems used as a savoury flavouring in salads, soups, stews etc, imparting a yeasty/celery flavour.
Originating from Acorn Bank, the National Trust garden in Cumbria, this golden marjoram has very long, pointed leaves. To achieve the full golden colour of this herb, plant it in semi shade. Full sun can produce pale leaves
Colour: Cream Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 15cm x 30cm
Country Cream is a hardy, bushy perennial, which although aromatic and can be used in Italian, Greek, Mexican dishes, is mostly used for ornamental purposes. Loves a sunny spot in rich well drained soil. It forms a dense mat and a small pink flower. Trim back regularly to maintain shape and vigour.
Colour: Pink Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 30cm x 40cm
Mes-em-bree-anth-e-um - does that make it easier? Well it is definitely an easy plant to grow in hot dry spots where the soil is well drained and light. Little succulent like leaves in a blue-green tone and in summer masses of yellow blooms to brighten up your day. Protect from frost. Evergreen.
Colour: Yellow Habit: Trailing Groundcover Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 15cm x 40cm
There are several forms of Garden Mint, the true variety being of bold, upright growth, with fairly large and broad leaves, pointed and sharply serrated (or toothed) at the edges and of a rich, bright, green colour.