Perennials. A word to conjure up the essence of the British garden – the herbaceous border.
But although perennials and borders go together beautifully, they aren’t set in stone as perennials add colour and seasonal interest to the garden from April to November so they can – and should – be used anywhere in the garden where they can make their mark.
They are incredibly versatile and can be used as fillers between shrubs, planted as groundcover beneath trees, grown in containers or planted on their own.
There are plenty from which to choose, but there are several which in recent years have grown in popularity as gardeners have realised just how colourful and accommodating certain flowers can be.
Rudbeckia, for example, are valued for their long-lasting, bright daisy-like flowers which inject a splash of colour in late summer and early autumn.
Their lovely yellow petals (sometimes red, orange or bronze, depending on the variety) are eye-catching and attract insects in their hundreds.
And the hardy geraniums (aka cranesbills) are among the most floriferous of perennials, although some varieties can become a bit invasive.
But geraniums are ideal for areas of the garden where many other plants find it hard to flourish. They’ll often tolerate shade and dry soil while providing colour over a long period in the summer.
You’ll find geraniums ideal for ground cover, edging or to fill gaps in borders.
Heleniums are among the brightest of border perennials. These long-flowering, plants thrive in moist soil and a sunny spot in a range of vivid oranges and reds. They flower profusely in late summer.
And then there are the sedums, some of which will still be in flower when all other perennials are hunkering down for a well-earned sleep.
These are tough customers capable of living in extreme conditions and poor soils, which makes them a great favourite.