You will have four lectures, each released on a Saturday morning. The course will start the first Saturday of the month, and you can book two months in advance.
Perennials have become the most popular garden plants, not just because of their beauty and the ease with which they can be grown, but because they are at the heart of a planting style which is more naturalistic, more sustainable, and often lower maintenance than many traditional garden styles. This course aims at helping you understand the connections between perennials as wild plants in their natural environment, and as garden plants, helping you select the right plants for your situation. We look at their long-term performance, and how they can be used alongside other garden plants.
The first lesson, Understanding Perennials, takes the 'rabbit's eye view', getting down to observe plants at ground level, and even below ground. Noel takes you through the fundamentals of life: perennial lifecycles, longevity and reproduction. During week one you will also take part in a thought experiment, which enables you to get a deep understanding of how perennials survive and colonise.
Throughout the first week Noel peppers the lecture with examples including many from the work he’s done with acclaimed planting designer and horticultural writer Piet Oudolf.
The second lesson, perennials in planting design, looks at various types of perennial planting, and some of the basic issues in selecting and combining plants – the basics of how to make an amazing garden!
Topics include the traditional perennial border, ratios of structural planting, cottage garden perennials and foliage plants. Again many examples are given in lecture two – and students are encouraged to ask any questions in the classroom for plant recommendations to suit their own environment.
In lesson three, Perennials in their habitat, we look at three situations where careful matching of plant and place is needed: dry environments, wet ones, and shade. Some gardens are dominated by these problems, and many have a small area where careful plant selection is needed. A more positive approach is to suggest that these special environments create opportunities for plants with particular needs or tolerances.
The fourth lesson, Perennials through the year, looks at some examples of perennials which make an especially strong impact at particular seasons as a way of exploring some basic principles of what looks good when and why. We also look at some of the less obvious ways in which perennials can contribute to seasonal beauty.
The final lecture and assignment empowers the student to see the world differently, and you should come away being able to put into practice most of the theory you have learnt throughout the course