In horticultural circles, the term ‘perennials’ is bandied about as if everyone knows what these… Read more
Information about perennials
Kinds of perennials
Perennials are available in all kinds and sizes. Some are flowering and others are used predominantly for their foliage; some are used as groundcovers while some have other special uses. Discover the big wide world of perennials – there’s something there for everyone’s garden.
A groundcover is a perennial that quickly covers the ground with its network of roots and leaves. This makes them perfect for covering a large surface of the garden between trees and shrubs. Another great advantage of groundcovers is that they carpet the ground entirely so that they practically eliminate the intrusion of weeds! Groundcovers are usually low, creeping plants. Dwarf periwinkle (Vinca minor) is one of the popular groundcovers. Other examples of groundcovers include Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum) and Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans).
Grasses grow everywhere in the world: from prairies to swamps and from Alpine meadows to coastal zones. This is why grass is sometimes called ‘Mother Earth’s hair’. A selection of the most beautiful varieties with elegant narrow leaves and swaying plumes will add a real ornamental element to gardens. There are ornamental grasses for dry or moisture-retentive soils, for full sun or shade – all of them fully hardy perennial plants. Most of them turn brown during the winter, but some ornamental grasses are evergreen.
Some perennials don’t just cover the ground but also remain green during the winter. Their very apt name? Evergreen groundcovers. These evergreen groundcovers create a green carpet beneath trees and shrubs. During the winter, you don’t have to look at bare soil because the leaves of evergreen groundcovers don’t die back but retain their bright green colour.
Climbers are perennials that climb. They scramble up walls, fencing, poles, pergolas, arbours, arches, garden sheds, trees and shrubs. Climbers originated as forest species that grew upward on anything that would support them in search of sunlight. Most climbers are deciduous but produce flowers in great profusion during the summer.
Looking for border plants? Perennials are perfect for borders. Since border perennials emerge again every year, they involve the least amount of work and will also cost least in the long run. Perennial border plants also form the basis for a border. They have long flowering periods occurring at different times of the year. When the border is planned with the right perennials in mind, it can be enjoyed from January through December.
Most people think of perennials as being plants that have foliage which dies back during the winter and that survive as roots below the soil surface. Even so, some perennials retain their leaves during the winter and even continue to display their green colour. These are the evergreen perennials. Good examples of evergreen perennials are Elephant’s Ears (Bergenia crassifolia), many species of Barrenwort (Epimedium) and Japanese Spurge (Pachysandra terminalis).
The majority of perennials in cultivation are considered flowering perennials. They are available in all kinds and sizes. Did you know that some flowering perennials will be in bloom for six months of the year? African Bush Daisy (Euryops chrysanthemoides), Creeping Speedwell (Veronica peduncularis) and Blue Marguerite (Felicia amelloides) are just a few of these hardworking flowering perennials.
The colour and shape of leaves play an important role in a garden. Flowering perennials bloom for only part of the season but foliage plants add to the ornamental value of the whole garden all season long. Large or small and whether green, red, grey or blue, the leaves of foliage plants – and particularly their variety – provide a special effect. Foliage plants include Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis), yarrows (Achillea) catmints (Nepeta), Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) and Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana).
An insect-friendly garden will be full of nectar plants that will help butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects to thrive. The best way to attract butterflies to a garden is to include nectar plants. Even a few of them will entice bees and butterflies to visit a garden. Nectar plants are beautiful in borders and beds but will also do well in pots and containers. These beautiful nectar plants include Oregano (Origanum vulgarae), Purpletop Vervain (Verbena bonariensis), catmints (Nepeta), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) and goldenrods (Solidago).