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Perennials - Perennials 1
Perennials are a must-have in any garden!

Perennials - Perennials 1

This is the first quiz in our series about perennial plants. You will be given a chance to see if you recognize Alstromeria, Foxglove and Clematis and at the same time we hope you will digest a little about the habits and cultivation of this diverse range of plants.

Click on any of the pictures to expand them.

No herbaceous border is complete without this beautiful plant. What is its common name?
Photograph courtesy of Pissodisevo
  • Digitalis was often used medicinally for various heart conditions. Its use is now discouraged because of its unpredictable amounts of active ingredients - too much can kill you!
  • Its name means "finger-like" because the flowers fit easily around a human finger.
  • Flowers come in a range of shades from pure white to deep purple.
  • Grows in sun or shade but in the latter it might grow very tall and need staking.
What is the botanical name of the Peruvian Lily?
Photograph courtesy of J J Harrison
  • There are about 120 different species and almost all come from South America.
  • Hybrid varieties are often grown in glasshouses for use as cut flowers.
  • Available in several different shades of red, yellow, orange and pink.
  • The plants grow easily in most garden soils.
  • Produce rhizomes which can be lifted every few years and split-up as a means of propagation.
What species of Euonymous is this evergreen shrub?
Photograph courtesy of Bill Barber
  • Often called the Spindle tree.
  • There are many different varieties that come in a range of foliage colours.
  • The variety shown is "Emerald 'n' Gold" - one of the most popular varieties for winter colour.
  • Sometimes used to form low growing hedges that require little attention because of their slow growth.
  • Any green growth (non variegated) that appears should be removed as soon as possible.
Why does it pay to take care around Berberis plants?
Photograph courtesy of ndrwfgg
Branches are thorny
Flowers harbour wasps
Foliage is irritating
Whole plant is poisonous
  • The picture shops Berberis Darwinii which produces masses of golden flowers in spring followed by berries in the autumn.
  • Plants are fast growing and extremely hardy.
  • Needs little care other than pruning to keep it contained to the area you require - often at the back of a shrub border.
  • Is tolerant of most soils - even heavy clay.
  • Grows quickly enough to be used as a screen.
Berberis is a good choice if you want to create an inpenetrable barrier.
From where do most species of Clematis originate?
Photograph courtesy of Qsimple
China and Japan
South America
  • There is a British Clematis Society that exists for the purpose of encouraging all gardeners to grow and enjoy clematis.
  • Plants can be grown from seed but a batch will contain both "Good" and "Bad" plants - you might be lucky enough to find a new show-stopper!
  • To propagate the varieties that you particularly like you need to take cuttings early in the year so that the new plants build up their strength before the next winter.
Which small tree flowers early in the Spring and has flowers like those in the picture?
Photograph courtesy of pittigliani2005
  • Sometimes known as the Shadbush or Shadwood.
  • There are about 20 different species and all are deciduous.
  • The flowers are white or light pink and these are follwed by red or puple berries which are an important food-source to wildlife.
  • In the USA some varieties are grown for human consumption but, as far as we know, this is not the case in the UK.
Penstemons are known for their ability to flourish in what type of conditions?
Photograph courtesy of M. Martin Vicente
  • The flower shape is very distinctive and the plants are sometimes referred to as "Beard-tongues"!
  • Wikipedia lists more than 250 different species and there are countless hybids.
  • In July each year the Flagstaff arboretum in Arizona hosts a famous "Penstemon Festival".
  • Some varieties are not reliable hardy in cold conditions so it pays to mulch choice plants with straw each winter.
Many of the species come from desert regions
Gunnera is sometimes known as what?
Photograph courtesy of Douneika
Dinosaur food
Elephant food
Hippopotamus food
Rhinoceros food
  • Individual leaves can be broader than the height of a man!
  • The flower-heads are in proportion to the leaves and can weigh over 10 kilos.
  • It resembles a giant rhubarb and is sometimes known as that.
  • The prickly underside of the leaves are strong enough to tear skin.
  • Best grown in a boggy area or beside a pond where there is plenty of space.
The plant in the photograph belongs to a genus that contains garden plants grown for both their flowers and their foliage. What is it?
Photograph courtesy of Adheds
  • Belongs to the Saxifragaceae family.
  • The plants hybridize easily and this has led to a pletheora of different types.
  • A nursery in the new forest specialize in the plants and offer a fabulous range. Search Google on the genus name and you are sure to find them!
"Heucheraholics" in the New Forest offer a splendid range of these plants for your garden. Their website is at
What type of soil must Rhododendrons have in order to thrive?
Photograph courtesy of Ambersky235
  • Botanically this genus includes Azaleas but gardeners usually think of Rhododendrons and Azaleas as completely different plants.
  • The Queen's estate at Sandringham is noted for its wonderful displays.
  • Some species grow so profusely that they are regarded as an intrusive weed.
  • Foliage is so dense that virtually nothing will grow in their shadow.
The plants are ericaceous and as such they will not tolerate alkaline soils.


Author:  Colin King

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