Easy to grow, fully hardy, easy to look after and providing splashes of gorgeous colour which bring our gardens to life throughout the seasons and year after year, it’s no surprise that recent years have seen perennials become true garden stalwarts.
You’ll find that there’s a perennial for every garden position and situation from sunny to deep shade, and that the group as a whole offer flowers in every colour imaginable. They can be used to add fresh flowering interest to complement the structural planting of trees and shrubs, as the stars in their own dedicated beds and in pots and containers too – versatile indeed!
So here are our favourites, plus our tips for showing them off to their very best…
Echinacea have large, rich, daisy-like flowers in a range of colours with prominent orange-brown centres on stiff stems which appear from June to September. They aren’t fussy about soil, they’re tough, don’t need staking and cope well with adverse weather conditions, except drought.
Try them dotted through a sunny, mixed border or in bold drifts among grasses, where their long-flowering nature will extend the season of interest. They’re also highly attractive to bees and butterflies, and birds will flock to the seedheads.
Available in shades of yellow, through orange to rich reds, the vividly coloured, funnel-shaped flowers of crocosmia appear above the strappy foliage in profusion over several months from mid-Summer.
They enjoy moderately fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil and, although they will be OK in partial shade, they’re happiest in full sun, where they reliably put on a dazzling show. They’re great for mixed or herbaceous borders and coastal gardens or coastal-inspired planting schemes, associating well with other late-flowering perennials and ornamental grasses.
These plants, with their large golden yellow daisy-like flowers, are great for extending the flowering season as they’re reliably in bloom from August to October . They enjoy full sun or lightly shaded areas where they’ll flower freely, and they prefer soil which doesn’t dry out in the Summer.
As these flower later in the year, there is a tendency to tuck them at the back of the border but, as the flower stems themselves are almost bare and therefore easy to see through, there’s no reason not to give them the front seat they deserve, where the stunning blooms can really be appreciated.
Available in shades of white, pink, purple and blue, the slender, upright flower spires of hardy, herbaceous salvia look nothing short of spectacular when planted in a group – and they’ll flower their socks off from mid-Summer to Autumn, making them a magnet for bees and butterflies.
They all enjoy a sunny spot and this is really their only requirement, as they cope well in the poorest of soils. This makes them extremely versatile, meaning that they’re ideal for a coastal-style garden, that they’re often a key plant in a drought garden and their wonderful colours make them at home in a tropical planting scheme too.
Kniphofia are fine architectural plants with striking vertical flower stems, topped by blazing red, orange and yellow tapering flower heads that really do resemble fiery hot pokers – which has earned them their common name. Available in different sized varieties, they are great for adding imposing, bright drama and enjoy a long flowering season from Spring to late Autumn.
They are tough, easy, undemanding and long-lived plants which enjoy a sunny spot with fertile, moist soil and their evergreen, strappy, grass-like foliage mix well with most other plants.
Surely the most quintessential cottage garden plant, hardy geraniums offer wonderful white, pink, purple and blue flowering varieties that are easy to grow and which will provide gorgeous, saucer-shaped blooms to enjoy for months – which means they offer a long season of pollen and nectar too.
This plant family is tough, undemanding, large, varied and versatile – available from tiny alpines to large perennials, in evergreen and deciduous forms, and there are varieties which will grow everywhere from near desert to damp boggy soils, in sun and shade, and everything in between!
These are our favourites, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg! Use them as your inspirational starting point and then visit us in-store and go perennial-potty – you won’t regret it!