Every garden should make the most of colourful perennials
PERENNIAL plants are the life and soul of summer borders. They are simply packed with flowers which bring splashes of fresh and vibrant colour to the garden. There are varieties which will flower in every season, but now is the time many perennials are starting to look their most dazzling best. If your border lacks a bit of pizzazz, then look no further than flouncy paeonias, spires of salvias and delphiniums, exotic Peruvian lilies, pools of pink and blue hardy geraniums and many other perennials for an instant show of colour.
Perennials are plants that come back every year – so you can enjoy them in the garden for many years - some can even last for generations! Almost all of them will naturally die down for the winter months, but they come up even better again the following spring. There was a fashion for grouping perennials together in an herbaceous border, but it’s far better to use them among shrubs, so that you maintain a bit of structure in the winter.
PLANTING FOR IMPACT
The versatility of perennials is something that can be fully exploited in the garden. You can find varieties that are suitable for ground cover, shady areas, coastal gardens, and wet or dry soil. If like many gardeners in the west of Ireland, you have heavy wet soil or a damp area in the garden then perennials such as astilbes, hostas, arum lilies, ligularias and rodgersias will all luxuriate. Ground covering perennials are extremely useful for keeping down weeds. Some of the best varieties for ground cover are ajuga, bergenia, geranium and Persicaria affinis ‘Superba’, which will knit together to form a dense carpet. For the best effect always plant perennials in groups, using 3-5 of the same variety together, or more if using them for ground cover in a large area.
Very little aftercare is needed with most perennials, apart from cutting the old stems back in the winter. Every few years most of them will usually benefit from being dug up and divided, replanting strong pieces back into compost-enriched soil. Dividing keeps the plants vigorous and means that they will flower even better afterwards. It also means you can make a few extra plants to replant around the garden or give to friends!