A herbaceous perennial (HP) will live in the border for years, the leaves and stems dying down each winter and new shoots appearing each spring. It is a permanent resident – the basic ingredient of the herbaceous border, island bed and mixed border.

Several border perennials form bulbs or bulb-like storage organs below ground – Agapan-thus and Kaffir Lily are examples. They are not included with the bulbs because they are generally sold and transplanted as growing plants.

A half hardy perennial (HHP) is not fully hardy and needs to spend its winter in a frost-free place. It is therefore a regular visitor rather than a permanent resident in the garden, overwintering indoors as green plants (Pelargonium and Fuchsia), tubers (Dahlia) or as roots (Chrysanthemum).


A bulb (more correctly a bulbous plant) produces an underground fleshy storage organ which is offered for sale for planting in the garden. Included here are the true bulbs, corms, tubers and rhizomes.

Some bulbs are permanent residents. They can be left in the ground foryears, producing flowers each season. Lifting is only required when overcrowding threatensthe quality of thedisplay – examples are Crocus, Snowdrop and Narcissus. The remainder are regular visitors, growing in the garden for part of the year and resting indoors as dormant bulbs until planting time comes round again. Examples are Gladiolus, Tuberous Begonia and Tulip.


A hobby plant is a genus with sufficient variety and complexity to warrant a specialist national society and one which calls for considerable skill in maintaining a representative collection in peak condition.As the chart above shows, there are temporary visitors, regular visitors and permanent residents from v.-hich to make your choice. The appeal of growing permanent residents is, of course, a strong one but the word ‘permanent’ can be deceptive – many of them need to be lifted and divided every few years.

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