Top 10 Perennials for Year-Round Interest

Having a beautiful garden through every season of the year can be quite a challenge, but we’re here to help. Perennials provide flowers year after year. We have carefully selected our top perennial plants that will bring interest to your garden all year long.

Monarda

Native to Eastern North America and Canada and grows naturally from Quebec to Georgia. The Monarda’s other name “Bee Balm” refers to the fact that North American tribes would crush their leaves to ease the pain of bee stings. This popular perennial is ideal for their fragrance and would make the perfect addition to a wildlife garden.

Monarda Knight Red

This beautiful perennial provides beautiful whirls of vivid red flowers from July through to September and a mass of spicy-scented bronze tinged foliage. An added bonus of this Monarda is that their enticing fragrance attracts butterflies and bees, so they are perfect for anyone planning a wildlife garden.

 

 


Lewisia

Native to western North America, Lewisia are one of the most treasured rock garden plants. This gorgeous little plant produces rosette-shaped flowers that come in a range of different colours and is super durable, even in sandy or rocky soils.

Lewisia Cotyledon Mixed

This hardy, low growing perennial plant produces bursts of ornate, slender stemmed flowers with star-shaped petals that bloom in delicate colourful shades in the spring and summer. The foliage is particularly distinctive with their succulent, glossy leaves  that form attractive rosette-shaped arrangements at the base of the plant.

 


Scabiosa

Scabiosa is a plant that every gardener should try. Also known as the pincushion flower, Scabiosa is an easy-care plant that works well nearly everywhere and their flowers are a stunning sight to behold.

Scabiosa Fama White

This delightful and extremely hardy variety of Scabiosa produces filly flowers all summer long  until the first frosts. They are also perfect for attracting pollinators to the garden. Unlike their annual type, their foliage remains green year round and will return each year.

 

 

 


Ranunculus

If you’re a cut flower lover, and who’s not? – you’ll love Ranunculus. Native to the Eastern Meditteranean, these showstopping flowers are perfect for a cutting garden and their rose-clustered, bright flower heads will give you a flower bed of richly packed colour.

Ranunculus Picotee Pink

This hardy perennial variety boasts large white flowers adorned with multiple layers of delicate, silky petals with purple tips. Each plant produces masses of long-lasting double blooms that are perfect for borders, container planting or for making pretty cut flower displays.

 

 

 


Miscanthus

Looking for a more natural garden scheme? Miscanthus are a great group of ornamental grasses that can give lots of pleasure in the garden and require very little work in return.

Miscanthus Indian Summer

This stunning hardy perennial grass will make a great statement plant in any garden. Blooming with bright orange and yellow feathery stems throughout summer, autumn and well into winter. Their beautiful and unusual floral texture last for so many months after the initial colour has faded.

 

 


Sedum

There are few plants more forgiving of sun and bad soil than Sedum plants, so much so that even novice gardeners excel at growing them. These plants require very little attention and care and will thrive in conditions that many other plants thrive in, but will do just as good in less hospitable areas. Sedums are frequently used to create beautiful ground cover or rock gardens.

Sedum pulchellium Sea Star

This tough, low-growing perennial is drought tolerant and produces a mound of glossy green leaves that are covered in pale pink star-shaped flowers during the summer months. As the weather warms, the green leaves gradually become blushed with a rose colouration towards the tips of the succulent leaves.

 


Veronica

Native to the temperate Northern Hemisphere, Veronica plants are low-care, pollinator friendly and easy-to-grow perennials that produce long spikes of tiny clustered flowers in a range of beautiful and vibrant colours.

Veronica spicata Icicle

This compact perennial produces slender upright spikes of white flowers that bloom all throughout the summer. This variety will grow a spread of pretty foliage at roughly half the overall height of the plant with the crisp white flowers shooting above. A perfect addition to pots on the patio.

 

 


Carex

Carex are top-notch foliage perennials that commonly feature triangular stems bearing linear or strap-shaped leaves that are a graceful accent plant for beds, borders, ground cover and so much more. Their wonderful leaves provide long lasting appeal all year round and require very little care for a low maintenance garden.

Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’

A fantastic evergreen perennial grass that will provide a colourful contrast to the border with their orange tipped green leaves. In the autumn, the foliage turns into a darker orange and produce brown flower spikes in the summer. This clump-forming perennial retains its colour all year round for a long lasting garden appeal.

 


Anemone

Anemones grow wild around Europe, North America and Japan and they are a beautiful sight in the summer when they flower freely until late Autumn. These beautiful perennials are generally low maintenance plants and easily thrive in a majority of conditions.

Anemone Multifida

Anemone Mutlifida is a vigorous, long flowering perennial that produces broad foliage with buttery lemon-yellow flowers. They will flower all summer from June to August and will naturalise prolifically if left undisturbed, so you can simply plant them up and forget about them.

 

 


Heuchera

Famed for their truly amazing and spectacular foliage, Heuchera are a real luxury for garden lovers, but their real attraction comes from their evergreen or semi-evergreen foliage. Try mixing Heuchera together in borders, rockeries or patio containers and create a beautiful rainbow effect.

Heuchera plum royale

Heuchera Plum Royale produces spectacular shiny purple evergreen foliage which turn to silver with a purple tint in winter. This plant also produces attractive late spring an early summer flowers in pretty pink and white shades. This variety is a superb year round ground cover plant, even in a shady spot.

 

Ground Cover for Weed Control

There is a garden philosophy: If you like it, it’s a flower; if you don’t, it’s a weed. It’s hard to have compassion for weeds, but they’re just plants growing in places where they’re not wanted. One approach is to pull the weeds out by hand but why not try a completely different approach? A thick mass planting of ground cover plants can control weeds by keeping the direct sunlight off the soil, which can cause weeds to germinate and can compete with the weeds for water and nutrients.

Weed Types

Here’s a guide to identifying the garden enemies in your garden.

Annuals

Some are annuals and have a one-year life cycle that ends with them setting seeds for the next generation.

Chick Weed

Annual Nettle

Shepherds purse

Groundsel

Perennials

Others are perennials, like dandelions (having a lifecycle longer than one year). You may need to eradicate the main root of these to remove them.

Ground elder

Dandelion

Ground Cover for Full Sun

In full sun, the following ground cover plants are fantastic choices for beautiful and efficient sunny borders.

Aubrieta Red Cascade

This beautiful hardy and versatile plant forms spreading clumps of colour through late-spring and are perfect for ground cover planting. They love full sun and is tough enough to suppress weeds and thrive even in the poorest of soils.

 

 

 

Campanula Glomerata Superba

The large and vivid blue bell-shaped flowers of this plant are certain to make a lasting impact as ground cover. With its reliability, stability of colour and long spreading foliage, this plant is the perfect partner for suppressing weeds in your garden whilst providing lasting beauty throughout summer.

 

Thymus Serpyllum

This plant is a heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant ground cover option. This Thyme variety adds an attractive mat of leaves with highly fragrant pink/mauve flowers in the summer. They are great for planting in crevices as they are great for choking out weeds.

 

Phlox subulata Candy Stripe

For erosion control, few ground covers work better than this creeping perennial. They’re drought-resistant, not picky about soil quality and love full sun. Carpet your garden in the rich colour of Phlox Candy Stripe to attract butterflies and keep the weeds at bay.

 

Heather Summer Mixed

Our superb mixture of summer flowering Heather will provide a carpet of vibrant colour in a ground cover display. Not only do they brighten up otherwise dull areas, they can be planted in partial shade areas and also work to suppress weeds

Ground Cover for Partial Shade

For a slightly shady area of the garden, try these:

Gypsophila Prostrata Pink

This excellent ground cover plant offers a mound of silvery-green foliage beneath an abundance of dainty pink flowers. This sprawling perennial is a great summer flowering plant to suppress pesky weeds, and can also be planted in rockeries and dry stone walls.

 

Sedum Spurium

Also known as ‘Dragon’s Blood’ Sedum, this variety may be the hardiest and most versatile of all weed-suppressing ground covers. Their trailing stems root easily and do well in places where little else will grow. This year round beauty provides bright green fleshy leaves with star-shaped pink flowers in summer.

 

Campanula Carpatica

With this plant’s reliability, stability of colour and resistance to pests and diseases, it has earned the RHS Award of Garden Merit. Their masses of star-shaped blue and violet flowers will bloom into late August and are very useful in the ground where the spreading foliage will produce a blanket of weed suppressing ground cover.

 

Ground Cover Perennial Collection

Looking for a variation of colour and shapes in your ground cover? Our colourful collection are ideal for adding impact in the summer garden as well as keeping the weeds out of sight.

Ground Cover for Shade

It can be difficult to find the perfect plants for completely shaded areas of the garden, but never fear, as we have found the perfect weed suppressing plants for the darkest areas of the garden.

Ajuga Burgundy Glow

Ajuga keeps weeds out by creeping over the surface of the soil, putting down roots as it goes, and all the leaves knit together to leave not a millimeter of soil into which a weed can wheedle. Also, their vibrant green and  purple foliage with white edging are perfect for colourful ground cover.

 

Rose of Sharon

Originating from Turkey and Bulgaria, Rose of Sharon is one of the best ground cover options. Not only are their yellow star-shaped flowering popular with bees, their shrubby low-growing habit is extremely valuable for smothering those unwanted pesky garden weeds.

 

 

Leucothoe Scarletta

This magnificent evergreen shrub produces vivid red foliage on long slender leaves that have a unique metallic glimmer. They form in to a dense dome of foliage making them excellent ground cover to suppress weeds. Also, they look fantastic planted in pots/containers.

 

Hosta White Feather

This amazing Hosta sprouts large pure white leaves in late spring/early summer that develop green streaks as the season progresses. Perfectly happy in shade, when paired with other Hostas, these plants knit together seamlessly to create a blanket of efficient weed suppression.

Video tutorials

After you’ve picked your ground cover plants, it’s time to get in the garden!

To help you plant your ground cover this spring, here is our handy step-by-step tutorial, so that you can get the best performance and results from your garden this summer.

PLANTING TIPS

Which plants work the best for weed control?

Dense evergreen varieties are the best option if your main aim is to suppress weeds.

What do i need to do to prepare for planting?

Be sure to fully eradicate all existing weeds before you plant, especially perennials such as dandelions, as they will become near impossible to remove once your ground cover is planted.

Will the ground cover kill my other plants?

Place decorative rocks or stepping stones between ground cover and perennials to maintain a barrier for spreading stolons, or above ground perennials.

When planting more than one ground cover variety, spread mulch between the plants to conserve soil moisture and reduce unwanted plant growth.

What aftercare is required for ground cover?

Spread netting or old sheets over ground covers during autumn leaf drop. It can be difficult to rake leaves out of thick ground covers, and allowing the leaves to sit can create unhealthy conditions.

ENJOY PLANTING THIS SPRING!

Shade-Loving Plants for the Garden

Do you have a shaded area in your garden where it seems like nothing will grow there? Full shade areas can look dreary but don’t worry, there are plants to suit every garden, and all you need is a little creativity. There are so many varieties on offer in a mix of shapes, sizes and colours suitable for brightening any shaded spot. Below, we have compiled a list of our most suitable picks, from ground cover to perennial flowers and grasses, to add to any shaded spot in the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suitability

To grow healthy plants in shady areas, it is important to match the degree of shade that a plant needs or will tolerate with available light. Do you know which type of shade applies to your garden?

Partial Shade: A situation in half sun and half shade where there is some direct sun but possibly for less than half the hours of daylight.

Full Shade: Under tree cover, shrubberies, and  buildings. If a site gets less than 2 hours of direct sun a day, it is considered heavy shade.

 

A common misconception is that there are a group of plants that love shade, but the truth is that some plants can tolerate shady areas better than others. Here’s an easy checklist to decide whether the plants you are considering for a shady area are really a suitable candidate. They will need to be either:

  • Suitable for neutral to acid soils
  • Variegated foliage
  • Evergreen
  • Prefer moist or wet soil

Perennials

Some may think they have no choice but to add foliage to shaded areas of the garden. However, shade flowering perennials thrive in areas that receive little to no direct sunlight and can help to bring a little colour to a dark corner. Here are some of our suggestions for shade tolerant blooms:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a beautiful perennial to brighten up a shaded spot? Our Acanthus mollis Whitewater produces tall spikes of white flowers against their backdrop of dark green variegated foliage; a perfect addition to borders or large patio containers.

Tip – These pretty flowers can be cut for vase displays or dried floral arrangements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This fascinating clump-forming perennial produces striking mint scented flowers of a deep purple shade against bronze tinged foliage. Monarda Blaustrumpf would make the perfect addition for flower beds and borders and thrive in semi or full shade where other perennials may struggle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This useful and hardy plant does well in all types of shade. Geranium Versicolor is ideal for planting in borders or patio pots for adding striking and unusual blooms to your garden with their vivid pink veined white flowers. This variety makes for great ground-cover in full or partial shade.

 

Ground Cover

It can be difficult to find hardy shade ground cover for those difficult areas of the garden that can lie blank and shady, but once you put your imagination cap on you can discover several different varieties that make the perfect ground cover for those shaded areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not all Euphorbias do well in shade but Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’ is an exception. This rapid growing ground cover plant produces amazing dark purple foliage with contrasting lime-green flowers from Spring in to early summer, making this variety an ideal candidate for borders, patio pots or containers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This reliable evergreen shrub is perfect for bringing some colour to shady areas. Also known as the variegated leaf Periwinkle, Vinca major Variegata produces pretty violet-blue flowers from late spring in to summer; a perfect plant for growing anywhere in the garden, even underneath trees.

Products: Lime Marmalade (left), Creme Brulee (middle) and Berry Smoothie (right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These charming evergreen clumps of roundish leaves with lobed or scalloped edges come in every colour under the sun. Here we’ve picked out Heuchera Lime Marmalade, Heuchera Creme Brulee and Heuchera Berry Smoothie as our top recommendations for their vibrant hues. Especially when combined with other shade-loving perennials, Heuchera are amazing for ground cover, borders or in front of shrubs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bored of plain foliage? This stunning silver touched deep green foliage that becomes dotted with spikes of pretty white blossoms in spring and early summer. This evergreen shrub is perfect for adding interest to your border displays and in any shaded spot in the garden.

Ferns

Happy to grow in inhospitable spots, many ferns are evergreen, and since they come in a range of shapes and sizes, you are certain to find the perfect fern fit for any shady spot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also known as the Harts Tongue Fern, Asplenium scolopendrium is an evergreen fern with luscious upright green foliage. This hardy evergreen needs little attention in the garden, provides colour all year round and can even be grown in woodland/under trees or shady borders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This small and easy-to-grow fern is the perfect plant for the border or rock garden in full or partial shade. With a mass of golden yellow leaves and striking red stems, this exotic Athyrium Vidalii is guaranteed to provide a dash of unique colouring to even the shadiest parts of the garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a fern full of vibrant colour, the coppery red fronds of this Dryopteris erythrosora is the perfect option for your garden. This gorgeous plant can be planted in the border, patio pots or containers and are very tolerant of most conditions making them the perfect shade partner.

Grasses

Ornamental grasses provide many attractive functions in the garden. They are extremely adaptable, low maintenance, and have become increasingly popular in recent years as a way of creating a relaxing and calming effect in the garden. With their increasing popularity, more options have become available, and numerous lovely grasses are suitable for shade planting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This stunning evergreen perennial grass is the perfect addition for containers or a shady border as these plants thrive whether planted in sun, partial shade or full shade. With Carex testacea ‘Prairie Fire’s’ extraordinarily eye-catching green leaves with bright orange tips, this variety also changes in to a dark orange colour with brown flowers in the summer time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This highly versatile grass variety is ideal for planting in containers, near water features in gravel, in the border or alongside other grasses. With stunning needle-like leaves, Festuca Golden Toupee produces grey-green leaves that turn a bright yellow shade in the spring and thrive in pretty deep shade for bringing stunning vibrant hues of colour to a shaded garden.

Bulbs

It can be difficult to find blooms to rectify an unloved shaded area, however here are a few suggestions for bulbs to brighten up your garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This hardy perennial excels in partial or full shade. With pointed green leaves and slender, soft yellow bells that drop from its branched stems, Uvularia grandiflora makes a great addition to pots, containers and this variety even makes excellent cut flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A smooth cocktail of colours, purple buds opening to apricot, with rose shadings. Geum Mai Tai have fuzzy, dark green pinnate leaves and erect purple stems holding the semi double flowers. These hardy perennial plants will flower all summer from June right through to September and are suitable for partial shaded borders in the garden.

Climbers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With giant showy milk-white lace cap type flowers blooming over vigorous glossy green foliage. This fantastic, self-clinging Hydrangea petiolaris is the best climber for a shaded north wall. Very low maintenance needing only an occasional trim, left undisturbed it can grow up to a height and spread of 5m+ but will withstand gentle pruning to any manageable height to suit your garden.

ENJOY PLANTING THIS SPRING!

July Plant of the Month: Geums

Geums were once a severely overlooked plant, often used to plug the gaps in a cottage garden scheme. But then suddenly everyone started noticing new bright, zesty flowers colours appearing all the time at flower shows boasting spectacular long flowering times turning these beauties into stars in their own right.

A fantastically useful plant, they are disliked by slugs and snails so are very useful deterrents in the garden. Boasting disease free foliage with a neat compact habit and the pretty flowers, they are a great addition to any display. The evergreen/semi evergreen foliage with is excellent for smothering weeds making them very useful groundcover all year.

Each stem produces lots of buds that will flower in succession, giving you a long summer display. Good for cutting but get the most out of them in the garden first.

Planting

Yhere are three different groups of cultivars rivale, coccineum and chiloense. The rivale have nodding, bell-like flowers. They like moisture retentive soils and prefer to grow in shade or semi shade. Coccineum are an alpine plant, flowering well after a cold winter and have upward facing flowers. The choloense are tall, sturdy plants producing large double flowers and can tolerate full sun as well as semi shade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soil and propagation: Geums like moisture retentive soils and will benefit from an annual mulching. Low maintenance but if you divide them when they start to loose growth from the middle they will last much longer, bringing years of pleasure. You can also take cuttings from the base in early spring.

They may succumb to powdery mildew at the end of the summer, just remove any affected stems. Prune back hard after flowering to give the foliage a boost for the rest of the year.

Companion Plants

Geums are very popular for Cottage Garden style designs and work really well with lots of perennials. Featuring a few well places Dahlias amongst your Geums will make them more of a colourful backdrop to the main event. Make them pop by paring the red, yellow and gold tones of Geums against purples from Alliums or Pulmonaria. You can enhance the golden shades by planting daisy like Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Coreopsis or Helenium.

If you need good coverage in a shaded area why not try planting with Helleborus, which boast a similar stock of healthy evergreen foliage but will flower earlier in the year, giving you dashes of colour throughout the seasons as well as a constant lush green coverage.

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7 Ways to Help Wildlife in your Garden

For many people, wildlife is a welcome addition to the garden, bringing a cheerful breath of life and character to your very own backyard.

It is especially vital at this time of year, in the cold frosty months, to keep supporting your local wildlife with the space you have. Taking just a little time out of your day to make some easy changes in your garden can attract a flurry of wildlife and help do your bit for the environment.

Here are seven easy ways to make it happen;

  1. Leave a snack

Food can be scarce for animals during the winter, so this time of year is the perfect time to begin attracting wildlife to your garden. Even something as simple as adding a bird feed or scattering monkey nuts on the lawn can easily attract various wildlife to your garden. A bird table is a fantastic way of enticing birds into a specific area of the garden.

  1. Choose Shrubs for shelter and food

If you have the space grow trees and big shrubs. By devoting even the smallest part of your garden to attracting wildlife you can turn it into a paradise for beneficial birds, mammals and insects.

Birds are attracted to areas where they find both food and shelter. A good way of doing so in the autumn/winter is by planting up shrubs and trees which produce berries, such as Ilex (Holly), Pyracantha or Gaultheria. Not only will they produce valuable food but they also produce some much needed ornamental value in the Winter months.

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  1. Choose nectar-rich flowers

Bees and butterflies will visit most gardens, especially if they find plants in sunny or sheltered locations. The secret here is to make available nectar rich, fragrant flowers which are colourful and from which they feed. Lavender, Buddleia, Syringa, Forsythia and Echinacea are just a few fantastic garden favourites for attracting butterflies and all look great in the garden!

Ornamental grasses are also a popular way of making the garden appealing to seed eating birds.

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  1. Don’t forget water!

Just a little water left out can help out passing critters. Remember if you have a water feature or are near bodies of water, be sure to provide water and shelter for Toads. These are great for keeping unwanted pests at bay and if you have a pond or one nearby its likely you already have Frogs and Toads living nearby. If you have a dog remember Toads will release skin secretions which are toxic to dogs.

  1. Use an old Tennis Ball

Having a space for a water feature in your garden is a fantastic way to attract wildlife, but in the colder months freezing temperatures can create lethal conditions for your pondlife. A great tip for preventing your water feature from completely freezing over is to float several old tennis balls on the surface.

  1. Offer Shelter

Critters and bugs appreciate a little homemade shelter. A pile of old logs or bricks, some overgrown grass or turned over empty pots can all help with providing shelter for animals – Hedgehogs will happily take advantage of your hospitality and thank you by eating pesky slugs and snails – an ideal natural defender of you Hosta plants! 

  1. Go Wild

Wild gardens and meadows have been popular in recent years for their stylish swathes of summer colour. Composting and letting a few patches of your garden grow a little wild will help to encourage visitors (and what gardener needs to be told the virtues of compost!).

Online now you will find many varieties of plants and shrubs which will help you along the way, by both attracting and providing food/shelter for various forms of wildlife.

Read Some of our Best Reader-submitted Tips