5 great perennial plants

Perennial plants are the stalwart of the garden, coming up year after year. Plantsman, Graham Rice, picks 5 great perennials, including sedum, helleborus and Echinacea.

The word ‘perennial’ says it all, really. The plants come up every year and, what’s more, the clumps get fatter and fatter so that after a few years you can divide them up to make more. Perennials are adaptable too. You can easily find varieties to grow in sun or shade, wet soil or dry, clay soil or sand, chalky soil, seaside and in the chilliest corners of the country. Choose wisely, and perennials are also a long term answer to containers, especially if you’re not around to water and feed them constantly.

Are they difficult to look after? Not really. Taller types might appreciate some support, and they all need tidying up at the end of the season. Other than that, if you spend a little time enriching the soil and then keep them weeded, they’ll give you years of pleasure.

Five Fab Perennials

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’:

Masses of sulphur yellow daisies almost obscure the dark, needle-like leaves and open for many weeks towards the front of the border. Upright growth, spreads steadily.

  • Season: Summer
  • Situation: Sun
  • Soil: Any that is not parched or waterlogged
  • Height: 50cm
  • Where to buy Garden centres and these RHS Plantfinder nurseries
Echinacea ‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Echinacea ‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’:

Big, bold daisy style flowers in raspberry pink with a honey orange eye open over many weeks. Popular with bees and butterflies, a fine cut flower and soon makes a prolific clump.

  • Season: Summer
  • Situation: Sun
  • Soil: Any fertile soil that is not waterlogged in winter.
  • Height: 45cm
  • Where to buy: Garden centres and seed companies
Helleborus Walberton’s Rosemary (‘Walhero’)
Image: Ashwood Nurseries

Helleborus Walberton’s Rosemary (‘Walhero’):

Pink, outward facing flowers open in generous numbers for many winter weeks on vigorous plants which soon build into fat clumps. Lovely with snowdrops.

  • Season: Winter and early spring
  • Situation: Partial shade, or sun if the soil is moist
  • Soil: Any fertile soil which is neither parched nor soggy
  • Height:35cm
  • Where to buy: Garden centres and these RHS Plantfinder nurseries
Heucherella ‘Redstone Falls’
Image: TerraNova Nurseries

Heucherella ‘Redstone Falls’:

This dual purpose foliage perennial makes vigorous ground cover around shrubs, can also be gown on a shady bank or will trail down attractively from a basket or tub. Reddish evergreen leaves with silvery mottling become more yellow as they age.

  • Season: Summer
  • Situation: Partial shade
  • Soil: Happy in most soils
  • Height: 25cm
  • Where to buy: Garden centres and these RHS Plantfinder nurseries
Sedum Autumn Charm (‘Lajos’)
Image: Ashwood Nurseries

Sedum Autumn Charm (‘Lajos’):

Pink-flowered sedums are autumn garden essentials but before the broad, dusty pink flower heads of Autumn Charm enhance the late season garden, its variegated foliage is an attraction from the moment the first spring shoots open.

  • Season: Autumn
  • Situation: Sunny
  • Soil: Happy in most soils.
  • Height: 40cm
  • Where to buy: Garden centres and these RHS Plantfinder nurseries
Coreopsis verticillata ‘Moonbeam’
Echinacea ‘Pow Wow Wild Berry’
Helleborus Walberton’s Rosemary (‘Walhero’)
Heucherella ‘Redstone Falls’
Sedum Autumn Charm (‘Lajos’)