Perennial plants: the best for your garden
Perennial plants offer easy colour and little work for the garden. Simple to maintain, they are plants that will keep coming back year after year. Here are a selection of the best perennial plants
Perennial plants is the speciality of the Wildegoose Nursery in Shropshire. Jack and Laura Willgoss founded the nursery in an abandoned walled garden and its restoration was completed in 2016. The walled garden, which is rented on a long-term lease, had not been cultivated in any traditional sense since the 1960s. Instead it had been a tree nursery, a fish farm and a holding pen for raising pheasants. When they moved in, the Georgian glasshouses were derelict. To pay for their restoration, Jack and Laura went back to jobbing gardening, applied for funding from the Lottery Heritage Fund and Country Houses Foundation that was matched by the owners, and started up a tea room. Don't miss our piece on how to combine perennials with roses and read all about the New Perennial Movement and Piet Oudolf here.
The best perennial plants for your garden
chosen from Wildegoose Nursery.
Large rosettes of heavily branched flowerheads covered in tiny, yellow flowers, followed by handsome seedheads adorn this perennial. It has a long season of interest from July to September and grows to around 1.2m. They are perfect for both rock gardens and beds and borders.
Nigella ‘Albion Black Pod’
A hardy perennial with delicate, white flowers with curly stamens which are followed by large, black, inflated seedpods. Wonderful autumn silhouette or cut flower. Can be sown in autumn for emergence the following year. 45cm.
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This perennial has lilac-rose, whorled blossom over purple-green bracts. Bred to be mildew-free; best in an open, sunny spot. It is relatively new to cultivatio, has brilliant seed heads and comes in a variety of colours. Grows to a height of around 65-75cm.
Lunaria annua ‘Chedglow’
A delightful, dusky, chocolate-purple-leaved honesty cultivar with lilac flowers in late spring. In late summer the perennial has classic, flat seedpods that fade to silver. A biennial that will happily self-seed. Good for bees and butterflies and catterpilars. 1m. USDA 5a-9b.
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Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Willemijntje’
Makes a neat, tight plant with deep, lilac-pink flowers that are slightly reddish in bud. A perennial with great impact towards the end of summer. Good for both a sunny or partially shady border. 1.3m. USDA 3a-8b.
A lovely umbel, like a dwarf fennel, with acid-yellow flowers in June and July. A perennial with wiry stems that will self-seed prolifically and is perfect for dry sunny gardens. Half-hardy. 60cm.
Allium lusitanicum ‘Summer Beauty’
This hardy perennial allium, with its dark-mauve drumsticks of flowers keeps to itself and won’t self-seed. Its leaves remain flat and glossy and don’t suddenly turn brown as it comes into flower. Drought-tolerant, and perfect for near the front of the border. Very attractive to insects, especially bees and butterflies. 60cm. RHS H6, USDA 5a-9b.
Sanguisorba officinalis ‘Korean Phoenix’
Originally collected from a dry woodland in South Korea, this perennial plant has delicate, wiry stems and foliage that stays very low so that the crimson flowers appear to float above the whole thing. 2m. USDA 4a-8b.
A huge improvement on Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’, with larger flowers that are pure, darkest-red. This perennial also doesn’t spread as aggressively. Flowers for weeks and is happy in moisture retentive soils, in both full sun or part shade. Grows to 60-75cm. AGM. RHS H5, USDA 5a-9b.
Echinacea ‘Roze Rood’
The best of the Wildegoose trials of red echinacea. If you stop this perennial flowering for three years, you will be rewarded with masses of flowers the following summer. Mulch with gravel or coarse grit to keep off slugs in winter. 1m.
A long-lasting, upright hyssop that doesn’t spread, with salmon-coral blossom and a long flowering period from June to September. This perennial has compact evergreen foliage and has the usual mint scent but is not attractive to slugs or deer. 80cm.
This brown perennial knapweed has huge mounds of little thistle flowers on sturdy stems and is often found in dry meadows throughout Europe. Works best if you can give it space to cascade. The seedheads are much loved by goldfinches in winter and the flowers are knapweed-like but are open-rayed, with a series of brush-like tufts. Flowers July to September. 80cm.
Phlox paniculata ‘Charlotte’
Rose-pink flowers with a darker, deep-pink eye, dusky foliage, and a good, strong fragrance. The flowers on this perennial form a rounded head, and it has a neat, upright appearance. Loved by bees and butterflies and will be happy in a pot, patio or balcony in full or half sun. 75-90cm. USDA 4a-8b.
Origanum ‘Bristol Cross’
This perennial oregano has almost hop-like calyces that bend over and are tipped with pink flowers. Keeps a very neat habit. Flowers from July to September and dries very well. 30cm. USDA 5a-9b.
A silver-coloured grass that sits in neat, erect clumps and has narrow, silky, white flowers that fade to cream. It is a short-lived perennial, but may self-seed if happy. 75cm. RHS H6.