The perennial garden is located around the Carl Grillo Glasshouse. The current garden was designed in 2000 and continues to evolve today. The word perennial is derived from the Latin perennis, meaning lasting through the years. Perennials are plants that live more than two years. The term is generally applied to herbaceous (non-woody) plants, although woody plants are perennial in habit. Some herbaceous perennials can live 50 or more years while others can die out after three or four years.
Michel-Eugene Chevreul (1786-1889), French chemist, philosopher and physicist, developed theories on color harmonies and the effect of adjacent colors. His theories on color were familiar to impressionist and neo-impressionist painters of the time.
Gertrude Jekyll (1843 – 1932), a painter, is considered one of the masters of border design. She took the traditional cottage garden and arranged flowers by color based on Chevreul’s theories, including his use of white as a unifying element in the border, and also by height, flowering season and cultural requirements.
Traditionally, perennials formed the framework of the border, but gaps were left for rotating displays of annuals. These were grown off-site in large tubs and planted pot-and-all between the perennials to provide continuous color.
These labor intensive borders gave way to modern borders where annuals, perennials, bulbs, shrubs and small trees are combined to give continuous interest throughout the year while reducing labor.