What Is a Perennial Plant?

echinacea - a variety of perennial plant

When you’re new to gardening, commonly used phrases and complicated jargon will boggle the mind. What’s an annual? What does ground-cover mean?

The most commonly asked question we receive from new gardeners is, what’s a perennial plant? If you also ask yourself this question, then we’re here to clear up your confusion.

What does ‘perennial’ mean?

The word ‘perennial’ is a blanket term for flowers that you plant in beds and borders but aren’t bulbs, shrubs, or trees. Perennials can also be evergreen or semi-evergreen plants.

Somewhat separate from perennials is the term herbaceous perennial. This refers to plants that are non-woody and will die back in autumn/winter, reappearing in the spring. A few examples include Geraniums, Sedums and Asters.

Put simply, perennials are plants that are non-woody (eg., rose bushes) that will reappear for many years after planted. Their time span will vary, depending on the plant. If they’re also evergreens, then their foliage will remain throughout the year, but will only blossom in specific seasons.

Perennial plant lupins

Which plants are perennials?

Agapanthus, Delphiniums, Echinacea and Lupins are all great examples of perennial plants. When buying perennials, you will usually buy them one season ahead of time. For example, if you’re buying perennials that will bloom in summer, you should buy them in early-mid spring.

On our website, we offer a broad range of perennial plants, perfect for adding colour to your garden. Here are some quick examples:

Echinacea magnus
Echinacea Magnus
lupin russell mixed
Lupin Russell Mixed
Phlox subulata collection
Phlox subulata Collection

Perennial plants are perfect for both beginners and those looking to create a maintainable garden. Their ability to last several years make them a brilliant addition to your seasonal displays.

shop our perennial plant range

Read more from J Parker’s

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how to keep your plants cool during the summer



Create a Wonderful Winter Haven for Birds

Birds can play a vital role in the garden’s ecosystem, from natural pest controllers to simply bringing joy and life to the garden. By choosing the right plants, you can produce both food and cover for garden birds all year round. There are lots of ways to give bird populations a boost, from creating nesting shelters to planting shrubs rich in berries.

In this week’s blog, we have listed the top bird-friendly shrubs to provide bird food and shelter to handy and simple crafts and tips to attract these wild visitors to the garden.

Top Bird-Friendly Shrubs

Holly Blue Angel

A classic winter wonder. Holly Blue Angel produces shiny evergreen foliage with an unusual blue tinge on the leaves and masses of red berries in the winter. When birds need a source of food in the winter, Holly berries are the perfect snack.

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Holly Hedging (Ilex aquifolium)

A brilliant evergreen hedging plant. It is slow growing, low maintenance and acts as a deterrent with its dense prickly barrier. With bright red and orange berries in winter, this native plant is a great source of food and shelter for birds.

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Pyracantha Victory

A robust Pyracantha. Producing masses of red berries in summer and clusters of white blossoms in summer, this decorative shrub adds plenty of interest for wildlife as a spot for nesting birds and they contain an abundance of pollen for bees.

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Pyracantha Golden Charmer

A beautiful and useful shrub. With sprinklings of white June blossoms followed by masses of golden berries, this multi-tasking plant is a great climbing, specimen or screening plant and is also well-loved by birds in the winter.

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Quickthorn/Hawthorn Hedging

This popular British Native hedge can withstand harsh winds and temperatures and the thick and thorny branches make an excellent barrier. Red berries appear during the autumn months to tempt hungry birds to the garden.

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Crataegus Pauls Scarlet

This robust little shrub blooms with beautiful pink spring blossoms amongst bright green foliage. Even in the winter, the stout, interweaving branches and their red berries act as a nesting sight and food source for birds.

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Virginia Creeper

This climbing vine is perfect for adding autumn colour to the garden. At different times of the year, this vigorous creeper provides fruit, caterpillars and nesting material for birds. Its dense leafy cover also makes great shelter.

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Boston Ivy

You won’t find a more dramatic sight in autumn than a Boston Ivy. Their leaves change from a summer green to a bright crimson in the autumn. This variety produces clusters of dark blue berries that are a perfect food source for hungry birds.

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Lonicera ‘Winter Beauty’

This winter-flowering Honeysuckle produces masses of fragrant, creamy-white flowers. In autumn, it provides berries and shelter for birds and in summer, the scented flowers attract insects; a great food source for birds.

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Lonicera Kamtschatica (Honeyberry)

When ripened in late-spring to early summer, Honeyberry fruit is a treat that shouldn’t be missed. This hardy, edible Honeysuckle is loved by birds and other wildlife for their delicious berries.

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Bird Gardening Tips

It’s easy to attract birds to the garden, here are some bird-friendly gardening tips that you can do in any outdoor space, big or small.

DIY Bird feeders/boxes

Turn your garden into a desirable home for birds from winter through to spring with a cosy nestbox. You can even make your own  mini nature reserve for them if you’re handy. The best weatherproof and secure material for constructing your own is wood.

Install feeders

Garden birds benefit  from feeding all year round. Place feeders high off the ground. Use wire mesh feeders for peanuts and seed feeders for other seed. Where cats are a problem, use a bird table where cats cannot reach. You can even make your own by simply using sticking bird seed to a toilet paper roll using peanut butter and using string to hang them from a branch.

Bird baths

Many birds will use bird baths and ponds for bathing, so urge birds to seek out your garden as their one-stop shop for their daily routines. Keep an eye on your bird bath over winter to ensure they don’t freeze over in the cold temperatures.

How to Plant: Outdoor Hyacinths

With their heady, sweet perfume and assorted rainbow of colours, Hyacinths are an extremely popular choice for brightening up the spring garden. For outdoor planting, we have a marvelous range of Bedding and Top-Size Hyacinths. To help you decide which options are the best fit for your spring garden displays, we have created this guide with the benefits and planting recommendations for both Bedding and Top-Size Hyacinths.

Hyacinth Benefits:

  • Easy to Grow
  • Strong, sweet fragrance
  • Hardy & Perennial
  • EXCELLENT CUT FLOWERS

Bedding Hyacinths 14/15cm

Hyacinth Fragrant Sea Mixed 14/15cm

Our bedding Hyacinths are a magnificent compact option for the spring garden. They are ideal for planting in groups in flowers beds and borders for a cluster of bold and beautiful colour. Growing to a mature height of approx. 25cm, their shorter growing habit is that they are less likely to become battered by the wind, and the planting options are endless. Beds, borders, containers or window boxes, the wonderful fragrance and vibrant colours of our Bedding Hyacinths are guaranteed to brighten up your spring garden.

Planting Guide

Planting time: Autumn (September to December)

Position: Full/Partial Sun

Flowering time: March-April

Instructions

  • Plant bulbs pointed end up at approx. 10cm deep and 10-12 cm apart.
  • Plant in well-drained soil (mix in some compost for peak performance).
  • Ideal for spring borders and containers.
  • Once planted, cover with soil and firm down lightly.
  • Protect from frosts in Winter.
  • Leave undisturbed after flowering for years of spring colour.

Click the video below for a full planting tutorial.

Our top choices:

 Hyacinth Autumn Colours Mixed

Add the beautiful warm tones of autumn to your garden with this beautiful mixture of orange, yellow and purple Hyacinth blooms. These fantastic hardy spring flowers are great for filling your spring beds and borders with stylish colour and sweet fragrance.

 

Hyacinth Double Mixed

The same beautiful colours and fragrance as a normal Hyacinth but double the blooms! The fluffy whorls of colourful double-flowers are the perfect eye-catching Hyacinth plants for creating sweet-smelling, vibrant summer bedding.

 

Top-Size Hyacinths 17/18cm

Hyacinth Jan Bos 17/18cm

Is there anything better than being greeted at your front door by beautiful tall, sweet-smelling pots of Hyacinths? Top-Size Hyacinths are supplied as giant 17/18cm bulbs. Their enormous flower heads are perfect for planting outdoors in patio pots and containers to create a dramatic showcase of colour. They are ideal spring garden flowers as they produce amazing large blooms that are not too heavy to need support.

Planting Guide

Planting time: Autumn (September to December)

Position: Full/Partial Sun

Flowering time: March-April

Instructions

  • Plant bulb with the pointed end facing upwards.
  • Plant at least 10cm deep and approx. 10-12cm apart.
  • For garden planting (beds, borders), plant in well-drained soil.
  • For container planting, use a soil-based compost (e.g. John Innes No.2).
  • Once planted, cover with soil and firm down lightly.

Click the video below for a full planting tutorial.

Our top choices:

Hyacinth Miss Saigon

With deep, rich purple flowers, Hyacinth ‘Miss Saigon’ bring a cheerful sight to the spring garden. This RHS award-winning Hyacinth produces dense floral spikes with starry, violet florets. Plant near a doorway, path or on the patio, where you can enjoy its beautiful perfume daily.

 

Hyacinth Delft Blue

The extremely fragrant, award-winning ‘Delft Blue’ features soft blue, densely spiked florets that will add some stunning colour to the spring garden. For best visual impact, plant in groups in patio pots, window boxes, or even in the garden border.

 

Continue reading How to Plant: Outdoor Hyacinths