Herbaceous perennials are the "movers and shakers" of any garden. They come and go with the changing of the seasons, giving a dynamic quality to the border. The range is vast and many can be combined with others to create certain styles of planting and enhance the ambience within any part of the garden. The list below includes some of the perennials that Ben has found to be most reliable and easy to cultivate.
Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'
A very reliable cultivar that never fails to brighten up the dull days of early Autumn. Masses of brilliant white flowers appear late Summer through to Autumn, held on thin but sturdy stems above deep green foliage. Initially slow in its first years this plants soon get going and will gently spread through the border with its deep fibrous roots. Here in the garden we simply go through each year and pull out small clumps where it's not wanted.
Very easy to grow and will cope with most situations and sites, thriving in light shade and moisture retentive soil. Plant in the middle or towards the back of the border where it will disappear from view and happily grow amongst others until it flowers, when it then commands centre stage.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 1.4m x 1m
Aster 'Les Moutiers'
A fantastic strong growing Aster with masses of small, clear pink flowers that softly fade to white over time. The flowers are held on sprays of dark green foliage that is light and small in size. This winning combination is set of by the dark burgundy colour of the stems and midribs of the leaves. During Spring and Summer the handsome foliage acts as a great "filler" in the border, gradually gaining presence until it begins flowering in late Summer, carrying on into Autumn.
A very healthy Aster that due to its vigor will cope well in all but the driest or wettest of conditions, preferring full sun but will cope with some light shade. May need support if grown if grown too softly.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 1.5m x 1.2m
Calamintha nepeta 'Blue Cloud'
A delicate small perennial for the front of the border, where its aromatic foliage can be brushed against giving scent reminiscent of somewhere hot in the Mediterranean. During the Summer thin wiry stems are covered with small Thyme-like, slate blue leaves. As summer moves to Autumn tiny blue flowers appear along the length of each stem, giving a haze of colour late in the season, whilst providing a great honey source for bees.
Very easy to grow and will cope with most situations and sites apart from shade and heavy wet soil. Most happy in a sunny spot nestled in front or around taller perennials.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 0.4m x 0.4m
A rather tropical looking and short lived perennial of great stature and presence. Large, heavily divided, glossy leaves spiral round a central stem to create a textural mound of emerald green. These persist throughout the year adding continual structure, colour and interest to the border. During summer, sprays of bright pink flowers appear, held high above the foliage on thin stems adding yet more interest and vibrancy. Very similar in appearance to the much loved Geranium maderense, though longer living and much hardier.
Happy in full sun or part shade, given a moist but well drained, humus rich soil. Best planted amongst shrubs or under trees to give some shelter against cold winter conditions. Freely produces seed, some of which will establish around the mother plant. Though seed is best collected and then sown in spring, grown on and planted out in summer. Very easy and well worth it!
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 0.9m x 0.9m
A beautiful, stately umbel that adds a natural yet elegant touch to borders. From Spring to Summer finely cut foliage bubbles up giving a frothy, emerald green mound that is a great filler among earlier flowering plants. From mid summer the stems grow taller and the foliage takes on more of a tabular habit. Highly decorated, white umbels appear from late Summer through Autumn, and are loved by hoverflies and other beneficial insects.
A very tactile plant that can be planted in sun or part shade, in most soils other than very dry or winter wet. Delicate in growth so should not be over planted by heavy "bullies" within the border.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 1.4m x 0.5m