Gardening with Perennial Plants
The true definition of a perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years. An herbaceous plant is plant that dies back to ground level, usually during the winter months to grow back again the following season.
Spring, brings the new growth and the re-emergence of herbaceous perennials. The excitement of new season in the garden starts to mount, as gardener look at their borders and pots to see how many new shoots the season will bring as plants mature and enlarge. Perennials along with the bulbs are the mainstay of the spring season as it’s not until later that many of the trees and shrubs come back into leaf. Bulbs make the ideal candidates for naturalising in lawns, underplanting near trees, in woodlands, and will look triumphant planted in large drifts heralding the start of spring.
Summer, sees the rush of growth slowdown and the arrival of many of gardens blooms. Summer is the season when the bold, large leaved perennials will be reaching their ultimate size for the season and make their presence felt in the garden. In conjunction with many of the season flowers which are now at their best, the Echinacea’s, the Achilleas, the Penstemons, the Agapanthus and many many other. The tall spires of Delphiniums, Kniphofias, Verbascums etc will give add the height and cement the drama in the herbaceous border.
Autumn, late flowering perennials, seed heads and berries alongside the change in colours of foliage all signify the splendour that is autumn. It’s one of the most colourful seasons. Autumn flowering perennials include Anenomes, Asters, Phlox, Solidago join in alongside the summer flowering with with a long-flowering many of which will happily keep flowering until the first hard frosts. Autumn bulbs like cyclamen start to flower. Many herbaceous perennials’ foliage will change colour to bronze, yellow or gold. It’s the season when ornamental grasses will be looking their best, with the greenness bleached out of them by the summer sun leaving a palette of yellows, golds and reds to sway and rustle and glint in the autumn sunshine; will set seed and continue to look good way into winter.
Winter, a time of dormancy in the garden while perennials garner the energy for the coming year. A time when many gardeners stay indoors to avoid the cold and the beauty of the garden is harder to spot. But it need not be a time that’s dull, drab and uninspiring. Perennials that are evergreen provide the visual stimulation during the shortest days. And they are accompanied by the Hellebores and Pulmonias, plucky strong plants that swim against the tide to flower in the winter.
Foliage, here at JAM we love leaves just as much if not more than the flowers. The foliage stays with us in the garden for many months, whereas flowers mostly come and go in a relatively short space of time. So it’s the leaves are equally important when choreographing the plants in your garden. The foliage offers the building blocks of the structure of the herbaceous borders, giving infinite greens, greys, blues, yellow, gold, red and bronze along with texture, ground-cover, bold statement making leaves, feathery and ferny leaves offer contrast. Attractive leaves given due consideration as to their placing will make a gorgeous display whether accompanied by flowers or not. To create foliage effects select leaves that need the same or similar conditions but that contrast with each other in form; colour, shape, size, texture, height.