My love of herbaceous perennials

Since we moved to our new home in December 2015 I’ve been keeping a watchful eye on the garden. While I’ve been desperate to make a number of changes since day one, I’ve tried to remain patient (much to my frustration) and simply observe what happens in the garden from month to month, making a few small changes here and there as I go – naturalising bulbs, creating a small veg patch, moving a few shrubs, etc.   People say you should spend at least a full year in any garden before you make any big alterations and now that year is over the time has come!

I love all plants but the ones that bring me the most joy are by far herbaceous perennials.

While annuals and biannuals are incredibly beautiful, to me they seem like a lot of hard work for what is a limited return, although some are definitely worth the hassle, including vegetables, sunflowers and honesty.  Shrubs are colourful and add plenty of structure to any garden but they are somewhat predictable and to me, just not all that exciting.  Bulbs are fantastic and I cannot say how much I value their vibrancy and colour at the start of every year.

Herbaceous perennials, however, have so much to offer.  I find it fascinating how they can grow into huge plants every year (think lupins, verbena, campanula lactiflora, crocosmia) and then die back to ground level by the time the summer is over, only to replenish themselves and return with even greater strength and vigour the following year.  Watching herbaceous perennials develop in any garden is a thing of beauty and it brings me a huge amount of joy.


My garden boasts a few beautiful herbaceous plants (the lupins are divine) but this year I plan to make a large flowing herbaceous river right through the middle of the garden – it will be approximately 12 metres by 2.5m and I hope it will be a thing of beauty.

The colour scheme will incorporate purply blues, whites and bright pinks, as well as some different shades of green.  I’m trying to keep it simple but already my plant list is growing arms and legs (see below).

Garden designers suggest that larger herbaceous beds such as this one should see perennials planted in groups of three, five or more so that the impact is greater.  I think the next task for me is to limit my list for maximum impact – i think it is better to have several types of the same plant rather than too many, which could end up looking like a busy and unsatisying mixture….

I’ll keep you posted!

Herbaceous plant choices

Purply blues Height (S/M/T) Flowering period
Nepeta faassenii (catmint) M May-Oct
Echinops M July-Sept
Verbena bonariensis T June-Aug
Geranium cranesbill S April-Sept
Geraium lilac ice S April-Sept
White Height (S/M/T) Flowering period
Phlox paniculata David M June-Aug
Lupins M June-July
Japanese Anenome M/T Aug-Oct
Geranium cranesbill melinda S April-Sept
Erigeron karvinskianus S April-Sept
Campanula lactiflora Avalanche T June-Aug/Sep
Solomon’s seal M April – July
Bright pink / fuschia / pinky-red Height Flowering period
Lupins M June-Aug
Ecinachea Amazing Dream M July-Sept
Monarda Croftway Pink M July-Sept/Oct
Peony M May-Aug
Persecaria paltins S May-Oct
Cirsium superba plume thistle rivulare atropurpureum T Aug-Sept
Grasses and evergreens Height Flowering period
Eragrostis ellioti M
Miscanthus M
Sedum S/M May – Sept
Tothnes burgundy M/L
Stachys (lambs ears) S

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