Perennials - Monarch butterfly on Goldenrod at the Auckland Botanic Gardens

Perennials Garden

Sweeping borders of flowers and foliage provide a stunning display, with full bloom in summer

From pastel shades to fiery golds and intense purples 

Constant change makes the Perennial Garden one of our most dynamic gardens. The predominantly pastel shades of summer make way for fiery golds and intense purples as autumn approaches. Flower colours also change through the day, from cool early morning hues to the hot haze of late afternoon. Pop by through the growing season to appreciate how deciduous perennials grow: waking up from their winter sleep underground and sprouting fresh greens in spring, reaching full-bloom in high summer, finishing with shining seed heads in autumn, and then the cycle begins again.

The success of our perennial displays is attributable to careful plant selection and adapting cultural practices to suit Auckland’s climate. Extensive trials over many years enabled identification of the very best varieties for our displays. We aim to grow healthy plants with attractive foliage that flower well over a prolonged period without too much care.

There are a wealth of beautiful perennials to suit all tastes and they are available in a huge range of colours, forms and fragrances. You can find a perennial suitable for almost every area of the garden, to suit every mood or style. Get ideas from the range of plants displayed in the Perennial Garden. There are timeless classics such as penstemons, asters, achilleas, cannas, dahlias, sedums and salvias as well as more rare and unusual varieties. As with everything grown at Auckland Botanic Gardens, these plants are trialled to ensure their suitability for most Auckland home gardens.

Cultural

Prior to the establishment of our Perennial Garden in 1983 it was widely considered that perennials were generally best suited to colder climates. This attitude has been well and truly disproved with our stunning summer floral displays captivating visitors for decades. Timing is everything (see Gardening Tips for Perennials below). Another important factor contributing to our spectacular floral displays has been paying careful attention to combinations of colour and texture, and the use of large bold groups to create impact in this very large scale garden. When a particular plant combination catches your eye simply reduce the size of the groups in your own garden.

Perennial Garden
Gardening Tips for Perennials
  • Perennials are non-woody plants that live for two or more years - after then, no need to buy more - take cuttings or divide to revitalise and replant. Download our tips on lifting and dividing perennials (PDF, 0.4 MB)
  • Apart from frost tender perennials, planting is generally best done in autumn.
  • Division in early winter enables the new plants to establish while the soil remains relatively warm, and the plants burst into life the following spring.
  • Prune frost tender plants after the last frost has passed (the leaves, even if they look scruffy, protect new growth from damage).
  • Wait until spring to prune evergreen perennials prone to root damage in wet soils (e.g. Penstemon, lavender, Artemisia).
  • Apply an organic mulch annually to benefit soil health, improve moisture retention and suppress weeds.
  • Stake plants at or near planting time to ensure the plants are not damaged and grow around the stakes to conceal them. Generally stakes should be two thirds the height of the plant so they are inconspicuous by the time the plants reach their mature size.
  • Through the flowering season remove spend blooms (‘dead-heading’) to encourage further flowering.
  • Delay cutting back attractive seedheads in autumn to retain some seasonal interest and provide food for birds.

 

division of perennials workshop web.jpg

 

Division of perennials workshop

Conservation

Auckland Botanic Garden curates and conserves perennial plants that may no longer be commercially available.

Research

Horticulturalists at Auckland Botanic Gardens use the Trial Garden to determine a plants suitability for inclusion in display beds as well as trialling known or new cultivation techniques e.g. to improve plant performance or display.