Perennial plants are herbaceous plants which die back to the ground during winter and grow back in spring. Some can be left undisturbed for years while others need to be divided every few years to maintain their vigour. You can find a perennial plant for any situation, whether it's a stone wall or a shady corner. Some are grown for their flower displays, others for their beautiful foliage. Evergreen perennials and half-shrubs are included in this category.
The genus Acaena belongs to the family Rosaceae. It's native to the southern hemisphere, mainly New-Zealand, Australia and S-America. The species are low growing herbaceous plants or subshrubs with tiny leaves resembling rose leaves. Many are beautiful groundcovers with colorful foliage e.g. bluegreen or bronze.
Achillea - Yarrows
The genus Achillea belongs to the family Asteraceae. Their defining characteristics are finely divided, aromatic leaves and clusters of small composite flowers. The genus contains around 150 species native to Euope, N-Asia and N-America. A number of garden cultivars are available in a variety of colours.
Acinos is a small genus of around 10 species belonging to the Lamiaceae family native to S-Europe and W-Asia. These are low growing plants that need a sunny spot and well drained soil. Acinos is derived from the Greek word akinos which means small, fragrant plant.
Aconitum - Monkshood
The genus Aconitum belongs to the family Ranunculaceae and as with many other genera of that family Aconitums are poisonous. In fact most are so poisonous that one English common name is "wolf's bane" and they were a popular way for royalty of centuries past to get rid of their competition. Aconitums are hardy and can tolerate some shade, but too much shade can decrease flowering. They prefer fertile, moist, yet well drained soil as most species are native to mountain meadows in the Northern hemisphere.
Adenophora - Ladybells
Adenophora is a genus in the family Campanulaceae which very much resembles Campanulas. Most species are native to Asia with the exception of one, which grows in Europe.
Agastache - Giant hyssop
Agastache is a genus in the family Lamiaceae, with fragrant leaves and long spikes of small flowers. There are about 22 species in the genus, all native to N-America, apart from one, which is native to E-Asia. They are popular garden plants in warmer climates as they attract butterflies and humming birds and a great variety of garden cultivars are available. They have little value in Icelandic gardens and are fairly tender.
Alchemilla - Lady's mantle
Alchemilla is a genus in the family Rosaceae. They have ornamental foliage and although the flowers aren't very showy, the umbels of lime green flowers are great accents with other flower colours. Most species of the genus are native to northern Eurasia, but a few species are native to mountains in Africa and N-America. Three species are native to Iceland (*).
Allium is a genus in the family Alliaceae. The genus includes onions grown for food, but also a number of decorative garden plants. It is a very large genus with close to 1000 species, most of which are native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.
The genus Alyssum belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It's a fairly large genus of similar species native to the Mediterranean and Eastern- and Central-Asia. Many are low growing alpines, most with small white or yellow flowers in clusters. They grow best in sandy, well-drained soil in full sun. The genus Aurinia is a closely related genus which several species from the Alyssum have now been moved to. They all flower yellow flowers and are native to Central- and South-Europe.
Anemone is a genus in the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, and bears a resemblance to buttercups. They grow mostly in northern regions and mountainous areas. Many are spring flowering or flower in early summer, but some flower later in the season, such as Anemone huphensis.
Aquilegia - Columbines
Aquilegia is a genus in the family Ranunculaceae. They are hardy plants that prefer fairly moist soil and semi-shade. However, the genus includes a few alpine plants that need full sun and well drained soil.
Aquilegia x hybrida
Armeria - Sea pink
Armeria is a genus in the Plumbaginaceae family. Species of the genus are very similar in appearance and difficult to identify. They have a basal rosette of thread-like leaves and leaveless flower stalks with round clustes of white or pink flowers.One species, Armeria maritima, is native to Iceland, most other species are native to the Mediterranean region.
Aster belongs to the family Asteraceae. It's species are native to meadows in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, the majority in N-America. They grow best in, moist, fertile soil and prefer a sunny position. Most Asters flower late in the summer and through fall, but the species mainly grown in Iceland are alpines that flower earlier, in July-August.
The genus Astilbe belongs to the Saxifragaceae family. Most species are native to E-Asia. They need fairly moist soil and a sunny, sheltered position. Many cultivars flower too late for Icelandic conditions and it's therefore important to choose early flowering cultivars.
Aubrieta - Aubretia
The genus Aubrieta belongs to the cabbage family, Brassicaceae, native to S-Europe and Central-Asia. It's a small genus of similar mat forming species with relatively large flowers. They grow best in gritty soil in full sun.
Aubrieta x cultorum
Ferns are non-flowering plants that reproduce with spores, which are more primitive than plants that reproduce with seeds. 23 species of ferns are native to Iceland(*), some are very rare and protected. Others, such as Cystopteris fragilis, are common in all parts of the country. Ferns grow best in shade or semi-shade in fertile, moist soil. They dislike windy conditions and usually grow in sheltered positions.