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.
Stachys byzantina Bella Grigio.... such a fancy name for Lambs ears but this is not just any lambs ear but a gorgeous lambs ear. Slim, tapered silvery leaves to about 50 cm tall culminating in spires covered in pink florets. Put this one on your must have list, we have. Perennial
Colour: Pink Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 50cm x 100cm
Stachys lanata is better known as Lamb's Ear, this silver, woolly leaved plant makes great ground cover. Furry spikes carrying small purple flowers are produced in the middle of summer. Well drained soil reduces rotting of hairy leaves, and loves full sun or some shade.
Colour: Mauve Habit: Ground cover Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x Spreading
This delicious Strawberry has large, conical shaped, dark red fruit with firm flesh and an excellent flavour. The main crop is ripe around December-January. Shows good disease resistance. Plant in well drained fertile soil and provide afternoon shade for best results. PVR.
To get the very best out of your Strawberry patch look at our 'How to' pages for growing tips.
Elegant and exotic clump forming perennial with the most unusual, tall spikes of orange and blue blooms that resemble a bird's head. Large, wide swords of blue-grey foliage. Quite easy to grow in a sunny, well drained position with protection from frost. Evergreen.
Strelitzia are quite frost tender when young but do become a little more hardy as the clump matures. They take a few years to flower but it you like a sense of drama in the garden it will be well worth the wait.
Colour: Orange / Blue Habit: Clump forming Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.5m x 1m
Aromatic herb used since the Middle Ages as an insect repellent. It is used to expel worms in animals (including humans), repel fleas and bed bugs and to delouse parasites on horses and dogs. Dried, it will also repel moths and ants in stored goods. It has green fern like leaves with attractive heads of yellow button flowers.
Colour: Yellow Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 1.2m x 0.8m
Low growing, evergreen with dark green foliage. It's small leaves have serrated edges and in late spring to summer spikes of pink flowers rise above the foliage. Likes full sun in most soils. Trim in winter to keep compact and tidy. Great as a hedging plant or for the border edge. Subshrub.
Colour: Pink Habit: Spreading Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 40cm x 60cm
Highly aromatic small yellow leaves that can be used to flavour meat or vegetable dishes. Dainty white to mauve flowers appear in summer and should be removed after flowering. Hardy and easy to grow in a sunny well drained spot. Evergreen.
Lemon Thyme is is known to be especially mouth-watering with poultry and in salads. An herb whose scent is regularly described as astonishing, it is super delicious when added to herb butters and herbed bread. It’s low mounding habit is beautiful in the landscape as a border or edging plant. Honeybees love the flowers of the thyme plant!
Herb. Want a super dramatic groundcover? Ruby carpet will cover itself in gorgeous pink flowers throughout spring. Excellent bee attractant for the vege garden and an excellent culinary herb as well. Aromatic foliage. Happy in a sunny well drained position in the garden or container. Evergreen.
Colour: Pink Habit: Trailing Est. Hgt/Wdth in 7/10 yrs: 10cm x 30cm