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EVALUATING THE LONG-TERM PERFORMANCE OF


ORNAMENTAL HERBACEOUS PLANTS USING A
QUESTIONNAIRE-BASED PRACTITIONER SURVEY

Dr.Noel Kingsbury, associate of the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield

ABSTRACT
Extensive knowledge concerning the long-term performance of ornamental
herbaceous plants is widely distributed amongst professional and amateur practitioners
on an anecdotal basis. Much of this knowledge is not necessarily included in relevant
reference literature.
Using a questionnaire-based survey technique, experienced gardeners were
asked to assess a selection of common ornamental herbaceous perennials for key long-
term performance criteria: longevity, type of vegetative spread, competitiveness and
tendency to self-sow. The potential of this methodology for future research in this area is
emphasised.
Clear agreement on the assessments of many species was found. Most
performance criteria put the species mentioned by participants on a gradient, with
marked differences between extremes. A number of issues are raised which are of
concern for the cost-effective and sustainable management of public spaces, regarding
some taxa: short-lifespans, aggressive spreading, high levels of self-seeding, slow
establishment.

Key words
herbaceous perennial, planting design, plant longevity, competition,
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1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background
Trees and grass have traditionally provided the essential framework of urban parks
worldwide, with high-visibility sites planted with annual bedding. Herbaceous perennials
in particular can seem an attractive additional option, as they can offer a long season of
floral interest, the element of seasonal change, and unlike annual bedding with its yearly
costs of planting and removal, considerable savings in maintenance costs. Generally
speaking, the few herbaceous plants in public spaces were traditionally organised into
narrow borders, but recently there has been much interest in a more extensive use of
herbaceous ornamentals in public space (Hitchmough 2004), which has been closely
linked to a style of planting that can be described as ‘naturalistic’ or ‘ecological’. There is
nevertheless a continuing use of more conventional planting style. The work of Piet
Oudolf in particular has raised the profile of a use of herbaceous perennials which is
distinctly contemporary but not self-consciously ecological (Kingsbury & Oudolf 2005).
Nevertheless the more extensive use of herbaceous perennials, and indeed any
wider use of plant diversity, is limited by the low level of horticultural skills in much
contemporary landscape management practice (Hitchmough & Thoday 2003). There is
also a reluctance to use herbaceous perennials because of there being little knowledge
of their long-term performance: amongst specifiers such as the landscape design
profession, landscape managers and clients. Knowledge of long-term performance is to
be found amongst horticultural professionals, but it is a knowledge which is more
relevant to private or intensively-managed landscapes, such as private gardens or the
grounds of visitor attractions where there are sufficient budgets (of time or money) to
maintain at a high level (Rice 2006).
It is this problem of lack of knowledge of long-term performance which this study
aims at addressing. A reluctance to use herbaceous perennials on the basis of lack of
knowledge regarding their long-term performance is fundamentally a problem of cost-
management – specifiers concerned with budgets will be reluctant to specify anything
which may either die or become so invasive as to require frequent management. Given
the resource inputs involved in growing and transporting nursery stock, it is also
important for sustainability that the longevity and performance of herbaceous plants in
designed landscapes is such that these resource inputs are minimised, e.g. by reducing
the need for replacing dead plants after only a few years. Cost-effective, but at the same
time ornamental, functional and bio-diverse herbaceous-based plantings can only be
developed if specifiers can assure clients that there will not be negative impacts on
maintenance costs within a few years of installation, and that what they are proposing is
seen as a good investment.
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1.2 Aims and objectives of the research

Aims
• To investigate the long-term performance of some common ornamental
herbaceous perennials, and the implications of this for cost-effectiveness planting
design
• To trial a methodology enabling knowledge transfer.

Objectives
• The design and evaluation of a questionnaire-based survey to gather data on the
long-term performance of herbaceous plants.
• To provide guidance on the long-term performance of the subject plant taxa.
• To outline the problems and potential of future research on long-term plant
performance and on the use of a questionnaire-based survey in future research.

1.3 Issues of long-term plant performance

1.3.1 Lifespan
Herbaceous plants have long been classified as annuals, biennials and perennials,
with the definition given by Griffiths, as “a plant lasting longer than two
years”(Griffiths,1992, Glossary p.l) being widely accepted. However many perennials are
frequently described as “short-lived” or “long-lived” (Thomas 1976). This failure to
address a fundamental issue, that of longevity, can be regarded as a serious weakness
in the language used by horticulture professionals. If some species can be described as
‘short-lived’ or ‘long-lived’ there is the clear implication that others might be ‘medium-
lifespan’, i.e. that there is a gradient of lifespan. Lifespan has been little researched,
work done at Weihenstephan in Germany being notable (Hansen and Stahl, 1993).
Horticultural literature, whilst using epiphets to describe lifespan, is almost never precise
about how many years herbaceous perennials might actually live for. Hitchmough 2003a
discusses longevity, and relates the issue to CSR plant functional groups (Grime 2001),
and discusses one important correlation very important for the long-term development of
herbaceous plantings, the link between relatively short lifespans and a tendency to
produce plentiful seed.

1.3.2 Vegetative spread and competitiveness


Spread (the potential diameter, or horizontal growth ability of a plant), is a very
useful piece of information for planning any kind planting. Much horticultural literature
however gives little quantitative information; Thomas 1976 for example does, Rice 2006
does not. Hitchmough 2003a usefully discusses some broad categories of the nature of
herbaceous spread.
The degree of vegetative spread is clearly related to the degree to which a plant
will cover ground (usually seen as desirable for aesthetic reasons, as well as functional,
e.g. weed suppression). ‘Ground cover’ is an essential term describing the functional
aspects of certain species in landscape horticulture (Thoday 2003, MacKenzie 1997).
However, in other circumstances too rapid or far-reaching a spread may be seen as
problematic if other varieties in the planting are overwhelmed; the word “invasive” is
frequently used to describe such plants, for example Thomas 1976 uses the word 58
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times in the course of the book.


Competition is clearly related to degree of spread, but in ecological science it has
a precise meaning, related to the ability of a plant to succeed at the expense of others,
and to be able to effectively utilise high levels of resources more effectively than other
(Grime 2001).
Both competition and vegetative spread are closely related to plant morphology,
in particular to the degree and nature of clonality (Herben & Hara 1997, Klimes et al,
1997). Despite the importance of these issues to ornamental horticulture there has been
little serious work done on relating them to issues of plant selection or management;
Kingsbury 2008 attempts to relate morphology to competitiveness and to plant selection
for ecologically-based planting schemes.

1.3.3 Speed of establishment

Species which are slow to establish, i.e. to begin to increase in size once planted out in
their final positions, are noted by writers on garden plants – the default position being
that herbaceous plants establish quickly, usually with a substantial increase in size in the
second year after planting; Thomas 1976 draws attention to species being slow or
difficult, Gerritsen & Oudolf 2000 refer to plants being “slow-growing” which in
horticultural terms amounts to the same thing. No authors give any quantitative data on
speed of establishment, e.g. by size reached after x number of years, as is done for
trees and shrubs in Davis 1987 or for climbers in Davis 1990.

1.3.4 Spread by Self-Seeding


Recruitment through seeding (here referred to as self-seeding) is crucial for
herbaceous perennials in the wild, but levels and rates vary enormously from species to
species (Grime 2001). The same is observed in ornamental plantings. Thomas 1976 and
Gerritsen & Oudolf 2000 are amongst many garden books which discuss self-seeding as
being partly desirable, but easily problematic, if a species recruits so effectively that
others are overwhelmed visually or functionally. Self-seeding is seen as desirable in the
new-style naturalistic planting (Kingsbury 1996) even if it was not in conventional
gardens, but it has been very little written about, Pfälzner-Thomsen (1995) is one of the
few who has made any kind of systematic survey; Kingsbury and Oudolf 2005 discuss it
briefly. High levels of variation in rate and effectiveness of self-seeding are noted by
practitioners, but there has been no quantitative or extensive systematic qualitative
survey.

1.4 The nature of knowledge concerning plant performance

1.4.1 Reference sources


A useful outline of sources of information on plant performance is given in
Hitchmough 2003b. Most English-language horticultural reference literature makes
reference to only the most basic information about plants’ ecological requirements: for
light, soil moisture and/or good drainage requirements, hardiness and calcareous or acid
soil preferences. Little information on the issues pertinent to long-term performance
above is given. What is supplied is inevitably unquantified, unsupported, anecdotal and
often vague. Mentions of longevity, competitiveness and self-seeding are given for some
species but not others – it is thus not systematically treated.
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‘Profiles’ of genera are frequent in horticultural magazines, aimed largely at a non-


professional audience, the ones appearing in the RHS journal ‘The Garden’ and ‘The
Plantsman’ are the most detailed and thorough – they are never comprehensive or
systematic however.
The reference material in books and magazines is never attributed or supported by
citation, except in the most informal and unsystematic way. It is generally assumed that
information given is either the result of the author’s direct experience or has been
included by the author from existing reference material.

1.4.2 Trials
Formal plant trialling is the only way in which specifiers are able to gain
independent advice on plant performance.
In the UK, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) runs trials at its headquarters in
Wisley, Surrey. Until recently, the only long-term trials carried out were on a list of plants
(border carnations, garden pinks, chrysanthemums (garden and under glass), daffodils,
dahlias, delphiniums, perpetual flowering carnations, irises and sweet peas) of very little
relevance to contemporary public (or for that matter private) design practice. Every year,
there are ‘invited’ trials for specified taxonomic groups of plants, which can run from one
to three years. Trial grounds are regularly visited by various trials sub-committees who
are responsible for giving awards to outstanding plants, and compiling reports. The
Award of Garden Merit is given for “outstanding excellence for ordinary garden
decoration or use”. (RHS 2008). There is no standard set of protocols in use for the
assessment of plants in trials. Plants are compared with each other, with the focus being
on the selection of outstanding taxa which will make better garden plants than other
comparable taxa (Hunt, L., personal communication).
In The Netherlands, there are no independent trials, although nurseries conduct
their own trials (Oudolf, P, personal communication).
In the German-speaking countries (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) there is a
trialling system based on 17 sites, chosen to represent a range of climatic and soil
conditions; funded and administered by a network of tertiary education institutions.
Plants may be pre-trialled for two years, before the start of a formal three year trial
(Arbeitskreis Staudensichtung n.d.). Evaluations are carried out using a detailed form
(Institut für Stauden und Gehölze 1999).

1.4.3 Communities of knowledge


Published information on plant performance is supplemented by informal
exchanges. Professionally this may take the form of more experienced garden staff
passing information onto newer recruits – the core of a traditional apprenticeship system.
Amongst non-professional gardeners there is an extensive and lively informal exchange
of information – between people brought together by being neighbours, being related, or
by friendship. An important part of British horticultural life is that of horticultural societies
– the vast majority of which are locally organised; although relatively few members have
extensive experience. There are however some larger groups with a membership which
includes many experienced gardeners; the Hardy Plant Society (HPS), is particularly
notable, with some 9,000 members, overwhelmingly amateur but with a very high
standard of horticulture; their focus is largely on herbaceous perennials. The HPS,
though a national organisation, also acts as an umbrella for some 45 groups organised
on a regional basis. These groups meet regularly, organise outings to gardens, plant
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fairs and act as a very lively locus for informal information exchange. British non-
professional horticulture can therefore be described as including a complex of
interlocking communities of knowledge.
Similar bodies and informal networks exist in The Netherlands, Denmark and
Germany. The German Gesellschaft der Staudenfreunde (Society of Perennial
Enthusiasts) is comparable to the British HPS (Gesellschaft der Staudenfreunde 2010).

2 METHODOLOGY

2.1 Outline of research strategy


Given that there is little systematic primary data on long-term plant performance
(over three years) – this being understood as data gathered directly from a reasonable
sample of plants using uniform criteria, and that gathering such data from trials involves
a heavy consumption of space and time, it is proposed here that an alternative to
gathering primary data is to gather secondary data, this being understood as practitioner
experience of plant performance. This would be collected by means of a written
questionnaire.
The collection of secondary data can be seen as the collection of the anecdotal
evidence of plant performance which is exchanged in the communities of knowledge
described in 1.4.3 above. It can be assumed that, up to a point, the more contributors of
data, the more the descriptive of reality the resulting data is (Kittur et al. 2006).
The aim of this research is to gather secondary data on plant performance from a
variety of sources, and present it in a quantifiable form, thus formalising what was
previously scattered and unquantified. Since, given the extensive communities of
knowledge present amongst British amateur gardeners, this data collection an also be
represented as a knowledge transfer from a diversity of private realms to the public
realm.

2.2 Designing a practitioner questionnaire


A questionnaire was devised which aimed at enabling participating practitioners to
evaluate plant performance across four key variables: longevity, vegetative spread,
competitiveness and self-sowing. The rationale for these, in particular their relevance to
the issue of cost-effectiveness is as follows:

Longevity.
Plant death involves unattractive gaps in planting, and costs in replacing.
Vegetative spread
This may be a valued aspect of a plant taxon if it serves a function, e.g. ground cover,
but may represent a potential problem if growth is so rapid or extensive that surrounding
species or areas of hard landscaping are covered, and thus require management.
Competitiveness
Similarly, this may be valued e.g. where weed suppression is desired, but inter-species
competition in mixed plantings may result in loss of less competitive components of a
planting, with a consequent negative impact on visual appeal and expenditure of
management time in limiting growth.
Self-sowing.
Where species are short-lived, recruitment through seeding may be seen as desirable.
However if large numbers of seedlings compete with other species present in the
planting or which begin to grow in adjacent plantings or in areas of hard landscaping,
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this presents a management problem.

It is suggested that these four factors are largely genetically-determined traits


(Kingsbury 2008), although their level of expression may be partly determined by
environmental factors.
Participants were invited to evaluate the performance of included species by
selecting from a gradient of values.
The length of time the respondent had grown the plant was sought, with the
request that only species where the respondent had grown the plant in the same place
for at least five years be included. Five years is somewhat arbitrary, its main value being
that is a longer period than any trials conducted for herbaceous plants.
Information was also sought on the basic ecological conditions of respondents’
gardens. This was not in fact used in data analysis as there were not enough examples
of a range of different garden habitats to make this viable; it may however be a useful
guide for further investigation. Its should be noted however that herbaceous plants have
a tendency to be generalists (Crawley 1997), and those widespread in cultivation even
more so.

The core questions of the questionnaire were:


See appendix 1 for the full questionnaire.
Longevity
For each species give a score:
1 = very short-lived, rarely more than 3 years
2 = short-lived, 3-5 years
3 = medium-lived, plants may live 5 years or more, but suddenly disappear
4 = long-lived, plants appear to survive for ever

Vegetative spread
For each species give a score:
1 = not spreading, staying in same place
2 = slowly expanding clump
3 = strongly expanding clump
4 = spreading through occasional runners
5 = spreading strongly through extensive runners
6 = discontinuous spread, i.e. spreading outwards but older (1-2 year old) growth dying
7 = as above, but vigorously

Competitiveness
For each species give a score:
1 = very readily overwhelmed by neighbours or weeds
2 = readily overwhelmed, but with some ability to survive competition
3 = moderately robust, with ability to survive competition
4 = moderately spreading, ability to suppress or infiltrate neighbours, or resist weed encroachment
5 = characteristically aggressively spreading, suppressing or heavily infiltrating neighbours
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Speed of establishment
For each species give a score:
1 = slow, acceptable plant size reached in 3 years or longer after planting
2 = moderate, acceptable plant size reached in 2 years after planting
3 = fast, acceptable plant size reached in first year after planting

Spread by self-seeding
For each species give a score:
(Unless you always dead-head, in which case leave blank).
1 = never self-seeds
2 = rarely self-seeds, or seedlings rarely reach maturity
3 = moderate self-seeding
4 = extensive, even nuisance, level of self-seeding

2.3 Selecting species for inclusion


Potential respondents were asked to select plants from a list of 96 taxa, with a
suggested minimum of 20 (see appendix 1). These taxa were investigated as part of the
author’s PhD thesis (Kingsbury 2008), and represent a range of generalist ornamental
herbaceous perennials, all of them regarded as suitable for ‘ecologically-based’ planting
schemes for averagely moist and fertile soils, where maintenance is intended to be
minimal. The list includes species of a variety of growth strategies and lifespans.
In many cases the taxa in cultivation covers a range of genetic diversity, ranging
from material which is more or less identical to wild ancestors, through horticultural
selections to interspecific hybrids. In order to ensure as much clarity as possible,
respondents were asked to specify cultivar names if known.
In addition respondents were invited to add any plants they felt should be included;
this was done primarily in order to highlight any species which respondent opinion would
highlight as possibly valuable, or at least worthy of further examination for future
research.

2.4 Finding respondents


Three broad categories of potential respondent were targeted: amateur gardeners,
professional gardeners and proprietors of small to medium-sized nurseries specialising
in herbaceous plants. The category of ‘professional gardener’ is itself a broad one,
including:
1. self-employed professionals who manage several private gardens,
2. those responsible for a private garden
3. those responsible for a private garden which is open to the public on at least
an occasional basis
4. those responsible for a private garden which is open to the public as a visitor
attraction
5. managers of public parks.

Early discussions resulted in a decision not to pursue 5. as plant knowledge, of


herbaceous perennials in particular, seemed too low to make participation useful.
Potential respondents were targeted through:

1. HPS - Hardy Plant Society 1, appeal in journal, and postal mail-shot to


1
The HPS, founded 1957, is an organisation aimed at promoting the growing of hardy perennials, largely
amongst amateurs. It has approximately 9,000 members of whom around 8,500 live in the UK (Feb 2010).
All receive the journal ‘The Hardy Plant’.
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secretaries of the 45 local groups who make up the society


2. PGG - Professional Gardeners Guild2, appeal in journal
3. RHS - Royal Horticultural Society3, appeal in journal
4. Nursery - Email-shot to nurseries selected from the RHS Plant Finder.
5. Gardens - Email-shot to gardens open to the public selected from the Good
Gardens Guide 2008. In every case, where there was a response, garden staff
filled in questionnaires.
6. Personal - Personal contact: colleagues and friends of the author active in
horticulture.
7. Lectures - Attendees at public lectures or workshops run by the author who
expressed an interest in participating.

The appeals in journal offered the authors’ address and email. Initial responses by
email invited participants the offer of emailing responses or printing out forms and
posting back.
Those who wrote/emailed in requesting to be sent the questionnaire were then sent
a copy, by mail or email.

3 RESULTS
3.1 Effectiveness of recruiting respondents
66 people responded with filled-in questionnaires. Of these two filled in more than
questionnaire, as they gardened in more than one place – each location they gardened
was treated as a separate response – consequently a total of 70 responses made up the

2
The PGG was founded in 1977, and is open to all those professionally involved in managing gardens,
membership currently stands at around 1,000 (Feb.2010). All receive the journal
3
The RHS, founded in 1804, is open to all interested in gardening; it is primarily an educational charity. UK
circulation of their journal, ‘The Garden’ is around 326,400 (Feb.2010)
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data set.
Of the responses, 38 (out of 70) were received on paper, the remainder being
emailed. Of those who responded on paper, only in 8 cases had all correspondence
been by paper and postage.

source contacts requests responses % response


HPS 23 13 57%
HPS group 17 10 59%
RHS 18 10 56%
PGG 2 1 50%
nursery 77 35 7 20%
garden 60 27 7 26%
personal 23 23 17 74%
lectures 9 1 11%
TOTAL 154 66 43%
Table 3.1
The figures here represent the means of making contact with possible
respondents and the success level of getting responses.
Source refers to the various means of making contact with potential respondents
described in 2.4 above.
Contacts refers to those who responded to an email-shot of potential
respondents selected from a directory source or (in the case of ‘personal’) to a
request to a personal contact.
Requests refers to the number who requested a copy of the questionnaire, i.e.
who answered an item in a journal (HPS, RHS, PGG) or a mail-shot sent to a
local HPS group secretary for circulation within an HPS regional group, or to an
announcement in a lecture or workshop run by the author.
Responses refers to those who filled in the questionnaire.
% responses refers to the percentage of requests that turned into responses.

Given that this study is funded through a North Sea Regional project, any
potential respondent in a climate zone with parameters broadly outside any of the
climates to be found in the EU North Sea Region was rejected. In practice, this meant
generally meant maritime west coast climate zones; thus the exclusion of Devon and
Cornwall, English south coast to Hampshire, peninsulas of Wales, west coast Scoland;
the Highlands of Scotland were also excluded.

3.1.1 Category of respondent

Respondents were categorised by level of professional involvement with


horticulture.

Amateur Designer Garden Gardener Nursery Writer Total


owner
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40 4 2 9 10 1 66
Table 3.1.1
Amateur - those who do not make a living from their horticulture; in some cases
however their specialist knowledge may be world-class.
Designer – professional garden/landscape designers actively involved in
managing their own gardens
Garden owner – owners of gardens who derive an appreciable part of their
income from the garden, and who actively work in it
Gardener – those who work professionally as employees
Nursery – owners/proprietors of nurseries, who maintain display gardens or
stock beds
Writer – garden media professionals

3.1.2 Overview of taxa discussed by respondents


There is considerable taxonomic diversity to the plant taxa on the list:
natural species, cultivars, interspecific hybrids and in some cases, plants of
disputed origin. Some taxa distributed commercially under a simple binomial but
which in fact are hybrids,
The combination of level and number of plant taxa which respondents
specified varied considerably. A species is only subjected to analysis if there are
>10 responses. Amongst these are:

1. Multiple examples of a singly defined taxon, such as a species, cultivar or


interspecific hybrid – these present an obvious case for analysis at the taxon level.
Species where there are cultivars based on selections from the species are also
included in the species count if numbers are <10.

2. Genera including multiple examples of one taxon and small numbers of


representatives of a multiplicity of other closely-related taxa – it is proposed to
separate out the taxon/a with >10 examples for analysis, the remainder being
bundled for analysis together – comparison between a single taxon and a bundle
of the remainder may indicate a distinctive character for the one/s most-widely
reported.

3. An alternative treatment where no one cultivar has >10 examples, is to bundle


all examples of the genus, the result being relevant only as an indication of the
performance of the genus, ‘genus’ here being understood only as referring to the
taxa in cultivation.

In practice, the following category treatments are applied to cases of 2. and 3.:

Achillea interspecific hybrids and Achillea millefolium cultivars. are treated as two
separate categories.
Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' and 'Japanese anemone ' types of late-
flowering Far-Eastern origin other than A. x h 'Honorine Jobert' are treated as two
separate categories.
Brunnera macrophylla and Brunnera macrophylla cultivars are treated as two
separate categories.
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ and Crocosmia taxa other than 'Lucifer' are treated as two
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separate categories.
Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea hybrids are treated together.
Geranium phaeum ‘Samobor’, and G. phaeum cultivars other than 'Samobor' are
treated as two separate categories.
Geranium x oxonianum types, are all treated together.
Heuchera micrantha and hybrids are all treated together.
Hosta, various taxa, are treated together.
Kniphofia, various taxa, are treated together.
Monarda hybrids, are treated together.
A category of Pulmonaria officinalis cultivars are treated separately to ‘Pulmonaria,
all taxa’ for some purposes.
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ is treated separately to ‘Rudbeckia fulgida, all taxa’
for some purposes.

On this basis, a total of 62 species or groups of species/cultivars are produced,


where there are >10 examples.

3.2 Summary of results

Data for the 62 taxa or taxonomic groups included in the study are given in
appendix 2. Raw data for all responses received is in appendix 3, with
respondent garden condition data in appendix 4.
Here, as summaries, are the means of the responses of the assessments for
each performance category and the standard deviation from that mean. A caveat
re. the interpretation of the means of assessment of vegetative spread is given in
4.3.2.
Explanations for the assessment values are given above in 2.2,

Two headings here cover comments on the taxa responded to:


Identity
If there is a need to clarify identity or comment on the possible range of
genetic diversity in cultivation, or clarify the origin of hybrids.
Notes
Where there is a large disparity in participant responses (generally
standard deviation >1.4) this is discussed, or where further explanation or
discussion of data is required.

Acanthus mollis
33 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding
Mean 4 2.9 4 2.1 1.7
Standard deviation 0.2 1.4 0.9 0.6 0.9

Identity
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Some in cultivation are A. m. Latifolius Group (Turner 2009). This species is also
often confused with A. hungaricus (Rice 2006).

Achillea millefolium cvs.


12 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 2.8 2.6 2.7 2.1 1.7


Standard deviation 1.1 0.8 0.8 0.3 1

Achillea interspecific hybrids


15 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 2.6 1.9 2.3 2 1


Standard deviation 0.8 0.5 0.9 0.7 0

Identity
Widespread confusion over origins and ancestry of many Achillea cultivars,
complex hybridisation, some hybrids of doubtful origin placed under A. millefolium (Rice
2006).), itself a very polymorphic species with at least two sub-species within Europe
(Tutin 1968).
Notes
All achilleas reported to be relatively short-lived, and uncompetitive, although
experience appears to vary widely, particularly with longevity. Gerritsen & Oudolf (2000)
discuss the unpredictable nature of these plants in the garden, reporting that greatest
longevity occurred on a dry acid sandy soil.

Aconitum napellus, and cvs.


16 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.7 3.3 2.2 1.4


Standard deviation 0.3 1.7 1 0.8 0.3

Identity
Divided into 5 sub-species, sometimes regarded as separate species (Tutin
1968). It is not known from which one/s the cultivated stock is derived.
Notes
Wide level agreement as being long-lived but much disagreement over level of
vegetative spread – a high level of spread (category 6) was only observed by one
respondent (59,60 – two gardens), she also thinks that the plant was wrongly labelled,
possibly A.carmichaelii syn. fischeri).

Alchemilla mollis
54 responses
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Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by


Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.6 3.9 2.4 3.5


Standard deviation 0.3 0.9 0.7 0.6 0.8

Notes
Comments indicate that many respondents regard it as too aggressively seeding
and too competitive.

Amsonia orientalis
11 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.5 1.9 2.6 1.6 1.1


Standard deviation 0.9 0.9 0.8 0.8 0.3

Anaphalis triplinervis, and cvs


10 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.6 2.5 3.0 2.1 1.1


Standard deviation 0.7 1.0 1.0 0.5 0.3

Anemanthele lessoniana (Stipa arundinacea)


20 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.1 2.2 3.3 2.4 3.4


Standard deviation 0.9 0.7 0.5 0.5 0.8

Notes
At USDA zone 8, the hardiness of this species in northern Europe must be
regarded as questionable, which may account for reduced longevity.

Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'


19 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.7 2.7 3.6 1.7 1.3


Standard deviation 0.9 1.1 0.9 0.7 0.7

'Japanese anemone ' types other than A. x h. 'Honorine Jobert'


§

19 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 3.1 3.5 1.7 1.4


Standard deviation 0.4 1.4 1 0.7 0.9

Identity
A. hupehensis var. japonica, in C17 Japan. A. x hybrida is A. hupehensis var.
japonica x with A. vitifolia (Jelitto & Schacht 1990).

Aquilegia vulgaris, and cvs.


37 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 2.6 1.4 3 2.1 3.6


Standard deviation 1.2 0.5 0.9 0.7 0.6

Notes
Noted as being relatively short-lived, although experience varies, with no clear
agreement (see table 3.2.1 - 1), this is possibly due to seedlings replacing the original
plant by germination very close to the (very narrow) crown, as respondent 26 notes
“(n)ot really sure how long they live as they self seed to replace originals”. Vegetative
spread noted as low, so level of competitiveness may reflect a strong tendency to self-
seed, rather than competitiveness as per Grime 2001.

Assessment No. of
of Longevity, responses
Categories
1 8
2 9
3 8
4 12

Table 3.2.1 - 1
Frequency of responses for assessment
of longevity for Aquilegia vulgaris
§

Artemisia lactiflora, and cvs.


11 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.7 2.5 3.4 2.3 1.5


Standard deviation 0.6 0.5 0.7 0.6 0.9

Identity
Long-established in cultivation, new stock was introduced in the (?)1970s from
China under the name ‘Guizhou group’, reflecting the fact that this is not a cultivar but a
group showing some genetic diversity.

Aruncus dioicus
13 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.4 3.7 2 1.5


Standard deviation 0.3 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.9

Identity
Known to be polymorphic across its very extensive range, but stock in cultivation
appears consistent.

Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’


29 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.1 1.8 2.7 1.8 1.1


Standard deviation 1.1 0.7 0.9 0.6 0.3

Identity
A. amellus x A. thomsonii. Highly variable, both in terms of genetic and somatic
heritage, plus confusion in the trade with A. x frikartii 'Wunder von Stäfa' and
propagation by seed (Rice 2006).

Notes
A popular plant but not noted for being competitive or being quick to establish;
although generally noted as being long-lived, many respondents report a more limited
lifespan. In comments, some respondents notice mollusc damage, which may be a
contributory factor to reduced lifespan in some gardens.

Astrantia major and cvs.


42 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.4 2.3 2.9 1.9 1.9


§

Standard deviation 0.9 0.9 0.8 0.6 1.1

Notes
Several respondents gave data for more than one cultivar, or stated in
comments, that they had different experiences with different species. Given that this is a
common European species, it is highly likely that multiple introductions have resulted in
wide genetic diversity in cultivation.

Baptisia australis
21 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.7 1.7 2.8 1.5 1.2


Standard deviation 0.8 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.4

Brunnera macrophylla
24 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.6 3.5 2.2 2.6


Standard deviation 0.3 0.9 0.8 0.6 1.1

Brunnera macrophylla cvs.


11 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.6 2.4 3 2.1 1.1


Standard deviation 0.7 0.7 0.8 0.6 0.3

Campanula latifolia, and cvs.


13 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.4 2.2 2.9 1.9 1.6


Standard deviation 0.9 1.1 1 0.8 1

Centaurea montana, and cvs.


21 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.6 3 3.6 2.5 2.5


Standard deviation 0.7 1.6 0.7 0.6 0.9

Notes
Generally reported as being strongly competitive, reports of vegetative spread are
§

very diverse table 3.2.1 -2 – this could reflect two possibilities:


1. That there is genetic diversity in the garden population, with some forms staying
as a tight clump and some sending out guerrilla runners. Plants observed by the
author (Kingsbury 2008) were all tight clumps. Rice 2006 and Jelitto & Schacht
1990 report some clonal spread; Gerritsen & Oudolf 2003 and Thomas 1976
make no mention of this.
2. That survey participants mistook seedlings for running ramets – the species is
reported as self-seeding appreciably, or that the plants habit of collapsing its
stems outwards after flowering, followed by regeneration from the centre
(Kingsbury 2008) is mistaken for strong vegetative spread.

Assessment of No. of Table 3.2.1 –2


vegetative responses Frequency of responses for assessment
spread
of longevity for Centaurea Montana.
1 3
2 5
3 8
4 1
5 2
6 1
7 1

Cephalaria gigantea
24 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.6 2.5 3.3 2.1 2.2


Standard deviation 0.7 1.1 0.7 0.7 1.1

Chelone obliqua, and cvs.


13 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 2.7 3.3 2.4 1.4


Standard deviation 0.6 1.4 0.7 0.7 0.7

Notes
Vegetative spread is reported very differently; since this is a relatively late-
flowering species, the issue of collapsing stems post-flowering (as with Centaurea
montana above) being misinterpreted is unlikely to be an issue. Confusion of the three
species in cultivation (C. glabra, C. lyonii and C. oblqua) is likely, Thomas 1976, notes
that C. obliqua produces running ramets.
§

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’
23 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.8 3.5 2.1 1.5


Standard deviation 0.3 1 0.7 0.6 0.7

Identity
C. masoniorum x C. paniculata

Crocosmia taxa other than 'Lucifer'


49 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.4 2.4 2.8 1.9 1.2


Standard deviation 1 1 1.1 0.6 0.6

Identity
Of very varied genetic origin, taxa other than ‘Lucifer’ are seen as shorter-lived and
less competitive. Reports on 24 distinct taxa were received, with comments which
indicated that reliability varies considerably - standard deviation of longevity
assessments is high; given that frost-hardiness could be an issue with many cultivars
(USDA zones 8-9), this is not surprising.
Several respondents, in comments, also reported deterioration of clumps over
time.

Dictamnus albus, and cv.


16 responses

Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by


Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.1 1.6 2.4 1.2 1


Standard deviation 1.2 0.9 0.9 0.6 0

Echinacea purpurea and hybrids


27 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 2.4 1.5 2 2 1.5


Standard deviation 0.8 0.6 0.7 0.4 0.5

Identity
Naturally variable, cultivars also variable as many raised from seed (Rice 2006).
§

Hybrids may involve E. pallida, and E. paradoxa, (Rice 2008).

Echinops ritro and cvs.


24 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.6 2.4 3.3 2.1 1.6


Standard deviation 0.9 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.8

Euphorbia cyparissias and cvs.


26 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.5 4.4 4.3 2.6 1.4


Standard deviation 0.9 1.4 0.8 0.7 0.8

Notes
Widely reported as an aggressive spreader, with several respondents commenting
that they regret having it in their gardens, it is instructive to note that the majority of
respondents reported “spreading through occasional runners” but with a wide range of
other assessments of vegetative spread. There are three possibilities here:
1. The level of spread through guerrilla ramets is noted as being heavily dependent
on the density of surrounding vegetation (Kingsbury 2008) – the more dense the
neighbours the fewer the ramets.
2. Spread is dependent on soil type – 3 out of 6 respondents who rated it less than
category 4 for vegetative spread have heavy soil.
3. Genetic variation.

Euphorbia polychroma and cvs,


22 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.5 1.7 2.9 1.8 1.5


Standard deviation 0.5 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.9

Filipendula rubra and cvs.


11 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 3.7 3.6 2.2 1.4


§

Standard deviation 0 1.3 0.6 0.5 0.7

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue'


30 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 2.4 3.1 2.1 1.2


Standard deviation 0.6 0.9 1 0.7 0.6
Identity
G. pratense x G. himalayense hybrid. Precise ancestry uncertain, several similar plants grown
under this name (Rice 2006).

Geranium phaeum, other than 'Samobor'


33 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.5 2.4 3.1 2.2 2


Standard deviation 0.9 1 0.7 0.6 1

Identity
Flower colour naturally variable. Common central European plant so multiple introduction and
hence level of variation probable.

Geranium phaeum 'Samobor'


12 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 3 3.7 2.3 3


Standard deviation 0.3 1.5 0.7 0.6 0.6

Geranium pratense and cvs.


20 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 3 3.7 2.3 3


Standard deviation 0.3 1.5 0.7 0.6 0.6

Identity
Common central European plant so multiple introduction and hence level of
variation probable.

Geranium renardii and cvs.


21 responses
§

Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by


Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.3 1.7 2.7 1.8 1.3


Standard deviation 0.9 0.5 0.8 0.6 0.6

Geranium sylvaticum cvs.


16 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 4 2.3 3.2 2.2 2.3


Standard deviation 0.1 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.9

Identity
Flower colour naturally variable. Common central European plant so multiple
introduction and hence level of variation probable.

Geranium x oxonianum types


25 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 4 3.2 4 2.5 2.8


Standard deviation 0.2 1.3 0.7 0.7 1.1

Identity
Exists as a natural hybrid, much of what occurs in cultivation can be regarded as
part of a dynamic hybrid swarm - many cultivars fertile(Rice 2006).
Notes
The wide variation reported in self-seeding is most probably explained by
differential levels of fertile seed production by the wide range of crosses present in this
genetically varied and complex group – essentially G. endressii x G. versicolor (Yeo
1995). Author observation for example is that ‘Claridge Druce’ self-seeds considerably,
but others grown do not. Given that this is noted as a competitive species, and that it is
highly regarded for recurrent flowering and ground-cover abilities (MacKenzie 1997),
data on whether or not particular cultivars are potentially aggressive self-seeders is
suggested as being potentially valuable.

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'


27 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 4.0 3.3 4.0 2.4 1.1


Standard deviation 0.2 1.1 0.7 0.7 0.3

Identity
H. pauciflorus x H. tuberosus. Natural hybrid, but origin uncertain (Rice 2006).
§

Helleborus x hybridus
55 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 1.8 3.1 1.8 2.9


Standard deviation 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.8

Identity
H. orientalis crossed with several other species. Complex genetic background founded
on multiple introductions (Rice 2006).

Heuchera micrantha and hybrids


16 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 2.9 2.0 2.9 2.3 1.2


Standard deviation 0.9 0.6 0.6 0.7 0.4

Identity
H. micrantha, H. villosa and H. americana all used in breeding, (Rice 2006).
Notes
The range of experience with longevity may reflect either genetic diversity or the
response of the plant’s habit of forming ramets which tend to grow out of the ground
(Kingsbury 2008) to different soils or management – loss of vigour due to impeded
rooting into substrates often appears to result. Given the increasing commercial
importance of this genus, it is suggested that future research is needed.

Hosta, various taxa


26 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 4.0 2.4 3.2 2.4 1.1


Standard deviation 0.2 0.6 0.4 0.6 0.3

Identity
Highly complex genetic heritage involving many species (Rice 2006) and a long
history of cultivation in Japan.
§

Iris sibirica cvs.


21 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.7 3.2 1.9 1.4


Standard deviation 0.3 1.2 0.6 0.7 0.6

Identity
In cultivation often a hybrid, generally I. sibirica x I. sanguinea.Multiple
introduction also likely (Rice 2006).

Knautia macedonica, and cvs.


32 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.0 1.8 2.8 2.2 2.1


Standard deviation 1.0 0.6 0.9 0.7 1.1

Identity
Multiple introductions (Rice 2006).

Kniphofia, various taxa


36 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.7 2.4 3.3 2 1


Standard deviation 0.4 0.5 0.7 0.7 0

Identity
Hybridise readily in the wild, many cultivars are seedlings of uncertain origin
(Rice 2006).

Liriope muscari, and cvs.


23 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 4.0 2.3 3.1 1.9 1.0


Standard deviation 0.0 0.8 0.5 0.6 0.2

Lunaria rediviva
16 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.5 1.9 3.1 2.1 2.4


Standard deviation 0.9 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.9
§

Lysimachia clethroides
22 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 3.6 4 2.4 1.2


Standard deviation 0.5 1.4 1 0.6 0.5

Notes
The wide range of vegetative spread reported is difficult to explain. There is no
evidence of particularly wide genetic diversity in the European garden population.
Respondent comments varied, with some suggesting that it was invasive, others (3
responses) that die-back was frequent. Two respondents indicated that they thought
vigour was reduced in drier soils. There was however reasonable agreement that the
plant is moderately competitive.

Lythrum salicaria, and cvs.


18 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.6 2.8 3 2.3 2.3


Standard deviation 0.7 1.3 1.1 0.8 1.2

Notes
A wide range of experience with the level of self-sowing indicates that this may
depend on environmental factors. Author experience with growing the plant in two
locations on similar soil (derived from the Old Red Sandstone formation) suggests that
prolific recruitment through seeding is more likely on a wetter soil.

Macleaya cordata
14 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 4.3 4.2 2.2 1.2


Standard deviation 0.3 0.9 0.7 0.6 0.6

Miscanthus sinensis, cvs.


44 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding
§

Mean 4 2.6 3.5 2.1 1.1


Standard deviation 0 0.9 0.7 0.8 0.2

Identity
Highly variable species in the wild. Multiple introduction likely, and long history in
cultivation (Darke 2007).

Monarda hybrids
13 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 2.9 3.5 3 2.4 1.1


Standard deviation 1.2 2.1 1.4 0.7 0.3

Identity
M. didyma cultivars or of hybrid origin with M. fistulosa.
Notes
The exceptionally high level of disagreement over the level and character of
vegetative spread, together with assessment of competitiveness and longevity indicate
that this group of hybrids responds very differently to different environments and
management regimes. There is no indication from the literature to suggest that plants of
different genetic origins behave differently, and that all taxa in cultivation produce
guerrilla ramets of annual duration (Rice 2006, Kingsbury 2008).

Nepeta x faassenii, and cvs.


18 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.8 3.4 2.5 1.5


Standard deviation 0.3 1 0.7 0.7 0.8

Identity
N. mussinii x N. netella. Variable, possibly a cross made several times.

Papaver orientale, and cvs.


41 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 2.3 3 2.2 1.2


Standard deviation 0.6 1 0.9 0.5 0.5

Identity
Hybrid complex : P. orientale, P. bracteatum, P. pseudo-orientale, often seed-
grown so specific and cultivar names may be unreliable (Rice 2006).

Persicaria amplexicaulis and cvs.


27 responses
§

Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by


Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 3.7 3.9 2.3 1.3


Standard deviation 0.4 1.5 0.9 0.7 0.7

Persicaria bistorta 'Superba'


14 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 4.1 4 2.5 1.2


Standard deviation 0.3 1.1 0.8 0.5 0.6

Phlomis russelliana
24 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 3.3 3.9 2.5 1.8


Standard deviation 0.3 0.9 0.6 0.6 1.2

Pulmonaria officinalis, and cvs.


19 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.4 2.5 2.9 2.1 2.1


Standard deviation 1 1.2 0.8 0.8 1.1

Pulmonaria, all taxa


42 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.4 2.6 2.9 2.2 1.7


Standard deviation 0.8 1 0.8 0.6 0.9

Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm'


11 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.6 2.7 3.5 2.2 1.5


Standard deviation 0.7 1.3 1.2 0.8 0.7
§

Rudbeckia fulgida, all taxa


19 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.6 2.8 3.4 2.2 1.5


Standard deviation 0.8 1.3 1.1 0.6 0.8

Sedum (Herbstfreude Group) 'Herbstfreude'


19 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.4 3.3 2.3 1.4


Standard deviation 0.4 0.6 0.7 0.7 0.8

Sedum spectabile, and cvs.


15 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.7 2.4 3.0 2.4 1.5


Standard deviation 0.5 0.8 0.4 0.6 0.7

Sedum telephium cvs.


14 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 2.4 3.3 2.1 1.5


Standard deviation 0.4 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.9

Notes
Minimal differences in assessments suggest that this interrelated group of plants
of considerable importance in contemporary planting design can be regarded as very
similar.

Stipa gigantea
26 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.8 2.5 3.4 2 1.4


Standard deviation 0.4 1.1 0.6 0.5 0.6

Thalictrum aquilegifolium, all vars.


22 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding
§

Mean 3.5 1.9 2.7 1.9 2.4


Standard deviation 0.6 0.8 0.6 0.7 1.2

Veronicastrum virginicum all vars.


23 responses
Longevity Vegetative Competitivenes Speed of Spread by
Spread s establishment self-seeding

Mean 3.9 2.3 3 2.1 1.3


Standard deviation 0.3 1 0.5 0.7 0.7

4DISCUSSION

4.1 Recruitment of participants

%
source response
HPS 57%
HPS
group 59%
RHS 56%
PGG 50%
nursery 20%
gardens 26%
personal 74%
lectures 11%
Table 4.1
For explanation of categories see 2.4 and 3.1.

As shown in table 4.1 the highest percentage response (i.e. returned


questionnaires) was shown by personal contact, which would be expected. This is
however not necessarily a replicable response, as it is dependent on the author’s
particular position in the British horticulture community. The level of response of those
who answered a request place in a journal was 50% or above, those who responded
after contact through an email-shot, was lower. This can be explained in terms of the
§

psychology of contact – someone contacted directly by email is likely to respond


positively to receipt of a questionnaire, but with a lower level of commitment to actually
filling it in.
An additional factor explaining possible reduced response amongst the two
professional categories (‘nursery’ and ‘gardens’) is that these represent people with busy
working lives and who consequently have less time or interest in filling in a
questionnaire.
Judging ‘quality’ of response is important, as this has a major bearing on the
value of the data gathered. Quality is understood here to mean: accuracy of identification
and accuracy of assessment of the various measures of plant performance described.
The fact that only around 1% of the entries had to be rejected because of a clearly
incorrect binomial (i.e. seriously mis-spelt name, or ‘ungrammatical’ in terms of the
binomial system, or non-existent binomial) suggests that the data returned was of high
quality.
No attempt was made to categorise age or professional background of
participants. However, from covering letters received, and intuitive judgements made on
handwriting and other clues, it is thought that a high proportion were retired and/or
elderly; several stated they were over 90. Several covering letters mentioned how much
participants had enjoyed filling in the questionnaire, and that it had made them think
more clearly about the plants they grew. Only one negative letter was received – the
prospective participant wrote that she found the forms too confusing to use.
Comparing the proportions of the membership of the organisations where
appeals for participants were made revealed that approximately, 0.52% of the Hardy
Plant Society, 0.2% of the Professional Gardeners Guild and 0.0005% of the Royal
Horticultural Society memberships participated. The very low figure for the RHS
compared to the HPS or the PGG, may have been due to the small size of the appeal
relative to the rest of the content of the magazine, low readership of the section (news)
that the appeal was placed in, or it may reflect the fact that the RHS is now a more
‘mass’ organisation, with a smaller proportion of knowledgeable gardeners than formerly.
The use of email greatly reduced the workload involved in printing out copies of
the questionnaire, and reduced postage costs.

4.2 Relations between categories surveyed

SS xxxxxxxx
SE xxxxxxx 0.2567
C xxxxxxxx 0.5433 0.1597
VS xxxxxxxx 0.7913 0.5526 -0.025
L xxxxxxx 0.5103 0.6998 0.2519 -0.05
L VS C SE SS
L = Longevity
VS = Vegetative spread
C = Competitiveness
SE = Speed of establishment
SS = Tendency to self-sow
Table 4.2
Correlations between means of respondent assessment of performance categories of
the species surveyed (shown as rs values), using Spearman rank method
§

Vegetative spread is shown to be strongly correlated with competitiveness – which


given that vegetative spread is a key factor in a plant’s ability to compete with
neighbouring plants (Grime 2001) is not surprising, although as noted in Kingsbury 2008
there is a possibility that observer assessments may confuse vegetative spread as
cause with competition as effect thus resulting in a circular reference. Longevity is also
noted as showing a distinct correlation with competitiveness and vegetative spread – this
could be explained by longevity being an expression of effective competitive response
(for a discussion of competitive response in annuals see Goldberg and Fleetwood 1987),
which itself might be partly the outcome of morphological factors concerning spread.
Competitiveness and vegetative spread are also correlated with speed of establishment
– all three factors might be expected to be the outcome of the same physiological
mechanisms for rapid growth (Grime 2001).
No particular relationship between a tendency to self-sow and longevity is noted –
Grime 2001 suggests that there is a trade-off between the two, i.e. between long-lived
competitors and shorter-lived ruderals which need to partition more resources as seed
for the survival of the species.

4.3 Implications for the use of the plants surveyed in cost-effectiveness


public space management

4.3.1 Longevity

Echinacea purpurea and hybrids 2.4 Rudbeckia fulgida, all taxa 3.6
Achillea interspecific hybrids 2.6 Anaphalis triplinervis, and cvs 3.6
Aquilegia vulgaris, and cvs. 2.6 Geranium pratense and cvs. 3.6
Achillea millefolium cvs. 2.8 Lythrum salicaria, and cvs. 3.6
Heuchera micrantha and hybrids 2.9 Centaurea Montana, and cvs. 3.6
Monarda hybrids 2.9 Cephalaria gigantea 3.6
Knautia macedonica, and cvs. 3.0 Brunnera macrophylla cvs. 3.6
Dictamnus albus, and cv. 3.1 Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert' 3.7
Anemanthele lessoniana 3.1 Sedum spectabile, and cvs. 3.7
Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ 3.1 Baptisia australis 3.7
Geranium renardii and cvs. 3.3 Kniphofia, various taxa 3.7
Pulmonaria, all taxa 3.4 Artemisia lactiflora, and cvs. 3.7
Campanula latifolia, and cvs. 3.4 Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' 3.8
Crocosmia other than 'Lucifer' 3.4 Papaver orientale, and cvs. 3.8
Astrantia major and cvs. 3.4 Chelone obliqua, and cvs. 3.8
Amsonia orientalis 3.5 Stipa gigantean 3.8
Euphorbia cyparissias and cvs. 3.5 Helleborus x hybridus 3.8
Lunaria rediviva 3.5 Lysimachia clethroides 3.8
Geranium phaeum, other than Filipendula rubra and cvs. 3.8
'Samobor' 3.5 Sedum telephium cvs. 3.8
Euphorbia polychroma and cvs, 3.5 Anemone x hybrida (other than HJ) 3.8
Thalictrum aquilegifolium, alll vars 3.5 Sedum (Herbstfreude Group)
Echinops ritro and cvs. 3.6 'Herbstfreude' 3.9
§

Brunnera macrophylla 3.9


Veronicastrum virginicum all vars. 3.9
Iris sibirica cvs. 3.9
Alchemilla mollis 3.9
Nepeta x faassenii, and cvs. 3.9
Phlomis russeliana 3.9
Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ 3.9
Persicaria amplexicaulis and cvs. 3.9
Aruncus dioicus 3.9
Macleaya cordata 3.9
Persicaria bistorta 'Superba' 3.9
Aconitum napellus, and cvs. 3.9
Geranium x oxonianum types 4.0
Hosta, various taxa 4.0
Geranium sylvaticum cvs. 4.0
Acanthus mollis 4.0
Liriope muscari, and cvs. 4.0
Miscanthus sinensis, cvs. 4.0
§

Table 4.3.1 - 1
Species surveyed in order of means of respondents’ assessment of longevity.

It is clear that there are many of the species assessed would appear to be
reliably long-lived, and so suitable for cost-effective use.

To summarise the above:


1) 6 species, have a mean assessment of 4.0, and would thus appear to be
“bomb-proof” in the words of Bob Brown, a leading commercial grower of
perennials (Cotswold Garden Flowers) – i.e. reliably long-lived.
2) 20 species have a mean assessment of 3.8 – 3.9. It is possible that
these are also reliably long-lived but a small number of cases of death
due to factors such as predation or extreme abiotic stress.
3) The remainder may possibly show a tendency towards being short-lived.
This may be trait-based, or may show that these species are more
vulnerable to predation or abiotic stress.

Most problematic for investors in public space are those species which
respondents found to be relatively short-lived, shown in table 4.3.1 - 2.

Mean of Mean of Mean of


assessment assessment assessment
of longevity of vegetative of spread by
Spread self-seeding
Echinacea purpurea and hybrids 2.4 1.5 1.5
Achillea interspecific hybrids 2.6 1.9 1.0
Aquilegia vulgaris, and cvs. 2.6 1.4 3.6
Achillea millefolium cvs. 2.8 2.6 1.7
Heuchera micrantha and hybrids 2.9 2.0 1.2
Monarda hybrids 2.9 3.5 1.1
Knautia macedonica, and cvs. 3.0 1.8 2.1
Dictamnus albus, and cv. 3.1 1.6 1.0
Anemanthele lessoniana 3.1 2.2 3.4
Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ 3.1 1.8 1.1
Geranium renardii and cvs. 3.3 1.7 1.3
Pulmonaria, all taxa 3.4 2.6 1.7
Campanula latifolia, and cvs. 3.4 2.2 1.6
Crocosmia other than 'Lucifer' 3.4 2.4 1.2
Astrantia major and cvs. 3.4 2.3 1.9

Table 4.3.1 - 2.
Species indicated as being short-lived (scored as <3.4 on the longevity assessment) with
assessments of Vegetative Spread and ‘Spread by Self-seeding’.

In some cases respondent comments, or experience as indicated in the


horticultural literature indicate that short lifespans are not necessarily a trait but the result
§

of mollusc predation, e.g Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’, lack of hardiness, as in Crocosmia


taxa, or Anemanthele lessoniana or a high level of vulnerablility to a variety of problems
owing to a slow rate of establishment as in Dictamnus albus (Gerritsen and Oudolf
2003).
It is noted that vegetative spread of these short-lived species tends to be low;
Grime 2001 discusses how short-lived species (i.e. those showing some ruderal
character) might be expected to be short-lived, and not to spread through vegetative
clonal ramet production.
It appears as if some species here, notably Aquilegia vulgaris and Anemanthele
lessoniana, offset their tendency to be short-lived by a strong tendency to self-sow. In
public space this can be regarded as very positive, if the planting is of an informal or
naturalistic aesthetic, and might be regarded as a positive aspect of an ecologically
dynamic and healthy system (Kingsbury 2004). It is suggested that trialling or
assessment of many other herbaceous species may indicate others with this trade-off,
and therefore show potential for lower-maintenance plantings.
The short lifespans of several taxonomic groups included here suggest that
caution should be used in their inclusion in public space plantings where longevity of
effect is important, this is particularly the case since several of these: Echinacea
purpurea and hybrids Achillea interspecific hybrids Achillea millefolium cvs. Heuchera
micrantha and hybrids, are currently very popular in the wholesale nursery trade, with
particularly active breeding programmes.

4.3.2 Vegetative Spread


The use of the measure of vegetative spread used here should be treated with
caution, as the questionnaire asked respondents to categorise plants according to
various criteria of morphology which underlie effective spread by ramets – these
categories only form a gradient in a very broad sense – from low to high levels of
potential effectiveness of spreading mechanisms. Consequently, a mean figure only
represents a mean of respondents assessments on this gradient, and is not to be
understood as representing a category.
It should be noted that assessment of vegetative spread was the most ‘disputed’
performance measure used here; the mean of the standard deviations for all subjects for
vegetative spread was 0.9 (Competitiveness and Spread by self-seeding were 0.7,
Longevity and Speed of establishment were 0.6,). This may reflect the subjective
component of visual assessment and/or different plant response in different
environments.
§

mean of standard mean


assessment deviation of assessment
of vegetative assessments of longevity
spread of vegetative
spread
Acanthus mollis 2.9 1.4 4.0
Anemone x hybrida (other than HJ) 3.1 1.4 3.8
Centaurea montana, and cvs. 3.0 1.6 3.6
Euphorbia cyparissias and cvs. 4.4 1.4 3.5
Filipendula rubra and cvs. 3.7 1.3 3.8
Geranium x oxonianum types 3.2 1.3 4.0
Lysimachia clethroides 3.6 1.4 3.8
Macleaya cordata 4.3 0.9 3.9
Monarda hybrids 3.5 1.7 2.9
Persicaria amplexicaulis and cvs. 3.7 1.2 3.9
Persicaria bistorta 'Superba' 4.1 0.9 3.9
Phlomis russeliana 3.3 0.7 3.9

mean of standard deviation 1.3

Table 4.3.2 Species where the mean of respondents assessment of vegetative


spread is >2.9.

Table 4.3.2 shows species which respondents reported as having characteristics


highly favourable for vegetative spread – in many cases comments are made on how
effective this spread is, and how problematic this may be for garden management. The
problematic nature of strong vegetative spread is strongly culturally bound, and is linked
to conventional as opposed to naturalistic notions of garden aesthetics (Hitchmough
2004).
The mean figure for the standard deviation of assessments of vegetative spread
(1.3) is higher than for this measure as a whole (0.9), with a wide range of different
assessments for many species. It is possible that respondents who saw strong
vegetative spread as being a potential management problem assessed a plant in a
higher than a respondent who did not; those with more naturalistic gardens may not
have observed higher levels of spread or interpreted mechanisms of spread differently.
It should be noted that all these species have high values for assessment of
longevity. In some circumstances the tendency of these species to spread combined
with longevity may create management problems in controlling unwanted propagules or
eliminating the plant when it is no longer required, or of competing too effectively with
less competitive elements of plantings. Comments made be respondents made frequent
references to this. Monarda hybrids however, given that each ramet is only annual in
duration, are unlikely to present this problem.
Of these species, only one, Geranium x oxonianum types, was assessed as
having a relatively high rate of self-seeding (2.8), this, combined with a capactity for
effective vegetative spread, may be seen as problematic in some situations.
§

4.3.3 Competitiveness

Competitiveness Longevity
Echinacea purpurea and hybrids 2.0 2.4
Achillea interspecific hybrids 2.3 2.6
Dictamnus albus, and cv. 2.4 3.1
Amsonia orientalis 2.6 3.5
Geranium renardii and cvs. S 2.7 3.3
Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ 2.7 3.1
Achillea millefolium cvs. 2.7 2.8
Thalictrum aquilegifolium, alll vars 2.7 3.5
Baptisia australis 2.8 3.7
Knautia macedonica, and cvs. 2.8 3.0
Crocosmia other than 'Lucifer' 2.8 3.4
Campanula latifolia, and cvs. 2.9 3.4
Pulmonaria, all taxa S 2.9 3.4
Euphorbia polychroma and cvs, 2.9 3.5
Heuchera micrantha and hybrids S 2.9 2.9
Astrantia major and cvs. S 2.9 3.4

Table 4.3.3 -1. Species where mean of assessment for competition rating <3.
Species with mean of longevity assessment <3 are grey-shaded.

Table 4.3.3 -1 lists species which were assessed at a mean of <3, (moderately
robust, with ability to survive competition). i.e. their ability to compete is weak, therefore
they are likely to be suppressed by more competitive species in plantings. In some
cases, indicated by (S), they are noted as being shade-tolerant (Rice 2006), and
therefore competition is likely to be less of a problem in shade, as shade reduces the
growth of competitive species (Grime 2001).
Species which are relatively uncompetitive can be expected to be more likely to
fail in plantings where there is a reduced level of management. This problem is
compounded by several of them having lower levels of longevity, as indicated in table
4.3.3 -1.

Mean of Mean of Mean of


Competitiveness Longevity Vegetative
Spread
Lysimachia clethroides 4.0 3.8 3.2
Acanthus mollis 4.0 4.0 2.9
Persicaria bistorta 'Superba' 4.0 3.9 3.7
Geranium x oxonianum types 4.0 4.0 3.2
Macleaya cordata 4.2 3.9 4.3
Euphorbia cyparissias and cvs. 4.3 3.5 4.4
Table 4.3.4 –2 Species whose mean of assessment for competitiveness is 4 or greater,
in order of increasing mean of assessed competitiveness.

Conversely, there are species (see table 4.3.3 - 2.) whose level of competitive
ability was assessed as high, often combined with longevity, which indicates that they
§

are very suitable for use in minimum-maintenance situations, but possibly too
competitive and difficult to control when combined with less vigorous species. Their
mechanism of vegetative spread was rated as highly effective in spreading; using the
categories of clonal spread adopted in Kingsbury 2008, the following is noted -

more open phalanx clump, at least at outer edges, more strongly spreading

Acanthus mollis
Geranium x oxonianum types

clump with underground guerrilla ramets:

Euphorbia cyparissias and cvs.


Lysimachia clethroides
Macleaya cordata
Persicaria bistorta 'Superba'

4.3.4 Speed of Establishment

Mean of Mean of
speed of Longevity
establishment
Dictamnus albus, and cv. 1.2 3.1
Baptisia australis 1.5 3.7
Amsonia orientalis 1.6 3.5
Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine
Jobert' 1.7 3.7
Anemone x hybrida (other
than HJ) 1.7 3.8
Geranium renardii and cvs. 1.8 3.3
Helleborus x hybridus 1.8 3.8
Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’ 1.8 3.1
Euphorbia polychroma and
cvs, 1.8 3.5
Liriope muscari, and cvs. 1.9 4.0
Iris sibirica cvs. 1.9 3.9
Astrantia major and cvs. 1.9 3.4
Campanula latifolia, and cvs. 1.9 3.4
Thalictrum aquilegifolium, alll
vars 1.9 3.5
Crocosmia other than 'Lucifer' 1.9 3.4
Table 4.3.4 Species where mean of assessed speed of establishment was reported as
being <2, in order of increasing mean of speed of establishment.

15 of the species studied had a mean speed of establishment <2, i.e. were
somewhat slow to establish; it is suggested that in lower management environments
they are more likely to fail, owing to suppression by more vigorous species or weeds.
However all are reported as being relatively long-lived, see table 4.3.4. In Kingsbury
§

2008, it is suggested that there is a defined group of herbaceous perennials which have
a strategy similar to that of cespitose grasses and geophytes, characterised by
considerable investment in root growth in the earlier period of the plant’s life, consequent
slow rate of growth above ground, but with a potential for longevity.
Such species are likely to be unpopular with practitioners wanting or needing
quick results, but as a long-term investment they may be a good choice, offering many
years of good performance in return for good management in the earlier years.

4.3.5 Recruitment through seeding


Mean of Mean of
Spread by Competitiveness
self-seeding
Geranium phaeum, other
than 'Samobor' 2.0 3.5
Knautia macedonica, and
cvs. 2.1 2.8
Cephalaria gigantea 2.2 3.3
Lythrum salicaria, and cvs. 2.3 3.0
Geranium sylvaticum cvs. 2.3 3.2
Thalictrum aquilegifolium, alll
vars 2.4 2.7
Lunaria rediviva 2.4 3.1
Centaurea montana, and
cvs. 2.5 3.6
Geranium pratense and cvs. 2.5 3.3
Brunnera macrophylla 2.6 3.5
Geranium x oxonianum types 2.8 4.0
Helleborus x hybridus 2.9 3.1
Anemanthele lessoniana 3.4 3.3
Alchemilla mollis 3.5 3.9
Aquilegia vulgaris, and cvs. 3.6 3.0

Table 4.3.5. Species with mean of assessed spread by self-seeding 2.0 or greater,
arranged by order of increasingly high assessed tendency to self-seed.

Since recruitment by seed is a key method of species recruitment in nature, it is


perhaps harder to explain why many ornamental species do not produce seedlings in
gardens, or only do so rarely, than why some do. Ornamental populations may be
genetically unsuited to producing viable seed: by being sterile hybrids or because cross-
pollination between genotypes is essential for formation of viable seed. Many
ornamental populations are effectively clonal, as they are propagated by division or other
vegetative means – there is however little data on this. Even if there is genetic diversity
sufficient to support high levels of viable seed production in the cultivated genepool, this
diversity is very often absent within the cultivated landscape, as all plants present may
be clonal, or in the case of private gardens, there may only have been one original plant.
Self-seeding was often regarded as a nuisance in traditional horticultural
management, but is seen more positively by contemporary practitioners who regard it as
part of a healthy ecological dynamic and naturalistic aesthetic (Kingsbury and Oudolf
§

2005, Pfälzner-Thomsen 1995). Self-seeding can also result in a wider range of colour
or other forms in the planted landscape. However, in some circumstances some species
can self-sow to become a problem, with seedlings out-competing other species in the
planting. This can be a particular problem if species are also notably competitive – as
can be seen from table 4.3.5 , many of the most highly assessed self-seeders are
notably competitive.

5 CONCLUSIONS

Questionnaire methodology
A practitioner questionnaire is indicated as a potentially valuable way of
gathering high-quality data on long-term plant performance. The main issue would
appear to be in finding potential participants. It is suggested that future work using this
method address participant recruitment methodology as a priority.

Longevity.
This vital trait is best appreciated as a gradient (see table 4.3.1), from inevitably
short-lived species to species with a strong tendency for longevity and the survival of
abiotic stress. It is suggested that cost-effective public space management would benefit
from greater awareness of the issues raised by this gradient, and of greater attention to
longevity as an issue by the nursery trade, researchers and professional plant users.
Long-term research in this area is strongly supported.
Certain short-lived taxa are currently very popular in the wholesale nursery trade.
Indications here are that they are a poor investment in long-term sustainable public
plantings. It is suggested that ‘short-lived perennial’ may be an important category which
no horticultural classification sufficiently recognises, and a lack of awareness of this
category-concept has a deleterious effect on cost-effective and sustainable plant use,
and of the credibility of the nursery industry.
The possibility is suggested that the nursery industry is geared towards the
production of taxa largely for the retail trade rather than for public space, and that many
of these retail-orientated taxa are relatively short-lived. It may be that public space is
effectively a low-priority area for varietal innovation in the industry. This should be seen
as a serious short-coming in terms of the ability of public space specifiers to develop
designed plantings which are cost-effective and sustainable.

Effective vegetative spread and competitiveness


Some species with high assessments of longevity combined with
competitiveness and high levels of vegetative spread may cause ‘weed’ problems in
some circumstances owing to the effective distribution of ramets, resulting in increased
management problems – on the other hand this vigorous spread and competitiveness
may be seen as highly desirable in some situations. Further research and greater
awareness of these issues, covering a wider range of strongly-spreading species would
be useful, in order to provide better specification. See table 4.3.2 for the taxa with the
highest assessments for vegetative spread and table 4.3.4 –2 for the highest
assessments of competitiveness.
Conversely, the low level of competitiveness shown by some species (see table
4.3.3 –1) is an indication that they may be readily overwhelmed by more vigorous
species in some plantings where they would be a poor investment.
§

Establishment.
It is indicated that perennials establish at different rates, and that some species
which are slow to establish may nevertheless be valuable long-lived components of
planting, these are listed in table 4.3.4. More knowledge concerning this issue would
help specifiers and managers to safeguard investments made using these taxa.

Self-sowing.
This may be valuable in some circumstances, but undesirable in others, table
4.3.5 lists taxa where high levels of seeding are noted. Greater awareness of this issue
may help specifiers to design plantings for appropriate management levels.

6 APPENDICES
Appendix 1 – Questionnaire
See file Questionnaire v2.doc. In e-version this follows at the end, but please
note that owing to software problems not in original format
Appendix 2 – Raw data of taxa and taxonomic groups included for study
See Raw Data - spp. studied.xls
Appendix 3 – All raw data.
See Raw data - all .xls
Appendix 4 – Respondent data supplied
See Respondent data.xls

2-3 not supplied in e-version

7 REFERENCES

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Davis, B. (1990). The Gardener’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Climbers and


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Dosmann, M. (1999). Genes in the landscape. The Horticulturalist, 8:4.

Gerritsen, H. & Oudolf, P. (2000). Dream Plants for Planting the Natural Garden.
Timber Press, Portland, OR.
§

Gerritsen, H. & Oudolf, P. (2003). Planting the Natural Garden. Timber Press,
Portland, OR.

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Macmillan , London.

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Properties. John Wiley, Chichester, UK.

Hansen, R. and Stahl, F. (1993) Perennials and their Garden Habitats, Cambridge
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Hitchmough, J. (2003a). ‘Herbaceous Perennials’. In Hitchmough, J. &


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Hitchmough, J. (2003b). ‘Selecting Plant Species, Cultivars and Nursery Products.


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Naturalistic Urban Planting, Dunnett, N, Hitchmough, J. (eds.), Spon Press,
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Landscape’, in Hitchmough, J. & Fieldhouse, K. (eds), Plant User
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Stauden und Gehölze, Weihenstephan.

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Kingsbury, N. J. (2008). An investigation into the performance of species in


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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Dr. Nigel Dunnett, Mel Burton, Piet Oudolf, Andrew McSeveney, Leigh Hunt, Cassian Schmidt, Jo
§

Eliot.; staff of The Garden, The Hardy Plant, Professional Gardeners Guild journal, and with much
gratitude to all participants who filled in questionnaires.

© Noel Kingsbury 2010

PLANT PERFORMANCE QUESTIONNAIRE

PLEASE NOTE - NOT ORIGINAL FORMATTING

Dr. Noel Kingsbury,


Associate, Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield
Montpelier Cottage, Brilley, HEREFORD, HR3 6HF
CONTENTS
BACKGROUND 1
INSTRUCTIONS 2
RESPONDENT DETAILS 3
Part 1 GROWING CONDITIONS 3
PART 2. PLANT PERFORMANCE 4
KEY SPECIES LIST 6
PLANT PERFORMANCE RECORD SHEETS

BACKGROUND
This research is being undertaken as part of the contribution the Landscape
Department
at the University of Sheffield are making to an EU project ‘The Interreg IVB North
Sea Region
Programme – Making Places Profitable’. In a nutshell it means that professionals
and researchers
from partner organisations (mostly local government and universities) get
together to share
experiences about best practice.
Gardeners, public and private, build up extensive knowledge of the plants
they grow but
are not very good at noting it down. This questionnaire is designed to gather
information about
the long-term performance of herbaceous perennials so that landscape architects
and public
space managers can create more interesting, beautiful and bio-diverse planting
schemes as a
result of having more confidence in selecting plants which will perform well over
time. The
questionnaire is also designed to test a methodology which can be easily
adapted to gather
information about any other category of plants, in any country.
Once the project is finished, the final report will be:
_ Distributed to partners in the North Sea Region
§

_ Published as an academic paper so that it can be shared amongst those


teaching
landscape and horticulture – the publication will be open-access, free and online
_ Material will be included in the books and garden magazine articles which are
my output
as a garden journalist
_ Included in my teaching materials for garden designers, horticulture
professionals and
amateur gardeners.

INSTRUCTIONS
Part 1 GROWING CONDITIONS
This is asking for information about the garden/park where you have had
the experience
of growing the plant species/cultivars discussed. If your gardening experience
has involved
growing plants over more than one garden/park, and the geographic location or
environment is
very different between them – please contact me, before filling in the
questionnaire.

Part 2 PLANT PERFORMANCE DATA


Choose plants from the Key Species List which you have grown for at least 5
years, and
write their name in the ‘name’ space on the Plant Performance Record Sheets
However
since part of this research is designed to explore plant longevity, short-lived
species (i.e.
which live for less than five years) can be included, but only if you have had at
least two
attempts at growing them.
1. Please circle the appropriate number for each of the performance factors
(detailed in Part
2. Plant Performance Data).
2. Where you see ‘Please name cultivar you are describing’ on the Key Species
List,
choose only a relatively well-known one which you regard as typical of the
species or
genus.
3. Also please indicate approximately how many years you have grown the plant
for, and if
you have any doubt that the plant is not correctly named please tick the ID? box.
4. There is also a space for additional comments, e.g. if the species performs
differently in
different locations.
5. How many plants you provide information for is up to you – I want filling this in
§

to be
interesting, even enjoyable. I would appreciate at least 20, but the more the
merrier!
6. If there are other herbaceous perennials (or short-lived perennials) which are
not on the
list, but which you regard highly – for reliability or visual impact, and which you
have at
least 5 years experience with, please name them and fill out an entry for them.
7. How many plants you provide data for is up to you – the more the merrier!
Most
respondents manage 20-30 in an hour – which is the most I can reasonably ask
for.
8. Thank you!

RESPONDENT DETAILS

NAME OF GARDEN OR PARK


………………………………………………………………
ADDRESS…………………………………………………………………………….

…………………………………………………………………………………………

NAME OF RESPONDENT
…………………………………………………
POSITION OF RESPONDENT (i.e. garden owner, gardener, manager)

……………………………………..

Part 1 GROWING CONDITIONS


1.0 Soil
1.1.1 Summer drought
Often dry in summer _
Occasionally dry in summer _
Rarely dry in summer _
1.1.2 Moisture
Good drainage, excess moisture
never a problem _
Distinctly high moisture content _
Distinctly moist, occasional
winter waterlogging _
Frequent waterlogging _
§

1.1.2 Soil Texture


Free-draining, sandy or light _
Loam _
Distinctly clay/heavy _
Poor quality/disturbed _
1.1.3 Fertility
High _
Medium _
Low _
1.1.4 pH
Alkaline _
Neutral _
Acid _
1.2 Local Climate
1.1.2 Wind/exposure
Exposed, average, sheltered ? ………
1.1.3 Aspect
Notably north, south, west or east ……….
No aspect dominant ……….
1.1.4 Other factors
Anything else you regard as important
e.g. frost hollow, high altitude ……….

PART 2. PLANT PERFORMANCE


Refer to and fill in Plant Performance Record Sheets

2.1 Longevity
For each species give a score:
1 = very short-lived, rarely more than 3 years
2 = short-lived, 3-5 years
3 = medium-lived, plants may live 5 years or more, but suddenly disappear
4 = long-lived, plants appear to survive for ever

2.2 Vegetative spread


For each species give a score:
1 = not spreading, staying in same place
2 = slowly expanding clump
3 = strongly expanding clump
4 = spreading through occasional runners
5 = spreading strongly through extensive runners
6 = discontinuous spread, i.e. spreading outwards but older (1-2 year old) growth
dying
7 = as above, but vigorously

2.3 Competitiveness
§

For each species give a score:


1 = very readily overwhelmed by neighbours or weeds
2 = readily overwhelmed, but with some ability to survive competition
3 = moderately robust, with ability to survive competition
4 = moderately spreading, ability to suppress or infiltrate neighbours, or resist
weed
encroachment
5 = characteristically aggressively spreading, suppressing or heavily infiltrating
neighbours

2.4 Speed of establishment


For each species give a score:
1 = slow, acceptable plant size reached in 3 years or longer after planting
2 = moderate, acceptable plant size reached in 2 years after planting
3 = fast, acceptable plant size reached in first year after planting

2.5 Spread by self-seeding


For each species give a score:
(Unless you always dead-head, in which case leave blank).
1 = never self-seeds
2 = rarely self-seeds, or seedlings rarely reach maturity
3 = moderate self-seeding
4 = extensive, even nuisance, level of self-seeding
Self-seeding often appears to vary greatly between locations. Where the plant is
growing
in several locations, does self-seeding vary, and what are the differences
between the
locations?

Key Species List


Acanthus mollis
Achillea millefolium, older cultivars, e.g. ‘Cerise Queen’. Please name cultivar
you are describing
Achillea – modern hybrids, often named as ‘Galaxy hybrids’, e.g. ‘Hoffnung’,
‘Fanal’ etc. Please
name cultivar you are describing
Aconitum napellus
Alchemilla mollis
Amsonia orientalis
Anaphalis triplinervis
Anemone x hybrida. Please name cultivar you are describing
Aquilegia vulgaris
Artemesia lactiflora Please name cultivar you are describing
Aruncus dioicus
Aster x frikartii ‘Mönch’
Astrantia major Please name cultivar you are describing
§

Baptisia australis
Brunnera macrophylla

Campanula latifolia
Centaurea montana
Cephalaria gigantea
Chelone obliqua
Crocosmia Please name cultivar you are describing

Dictamnus albus

Echinaea purpurea. Please name cultivar you are describing


Echinops. Please name cultivar you are describing
Euphorbia cyparissus
Euphorbia polychroma
Filipendula rubra 'Venusta'

Geranium 'Johnsons Blue'


Geranium phaeum, Please name cultivar you are describing
Geranium pratense, Please name cultivar you are describing
Geranium renardii
Geranium sylvaticum, Please name cultivar you are describing
Geranium x oxonianum, Please name cultivar you are describing

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'


Helleborus x hybridus
Heuchera micrantha
Hosta. Please name cultivar you are describing

Iris sibirica, Please name cultivar you are describing

Knautia macedonica
Kniphofia. Please name cultivar you are describing

Leucanthemella serotina
Liriope muscari
Lunaria rediviva
Lysimachia clethroides
Lythrum salicaria

Macleaya cordata
Miscanthus sinensis, Please name cultivar you are describing
Molinia caerulea subsp. arundinacea. Please name cultivar you are describing
Monarda, Please name cultivar you are describing
§

Nepeta x faassenii

Panicum virgatum, Please name cultivar you are describing


Papaver orientale, Please name cultivar you are describing
Persicaria amplexicaule, Please name cultivar you are describing
Persicaria bistorta, Please name cultivar you are describing
Phlomis russelliana
Pulmonaria officianalis, Please name cultivar you are describing

Rudbeckia fulgida , Please name cultivar you are describing

Salvia nemorosa/S. sylvatica/S. x superba, Please name cultivar you are


describing
Sedum spectabile / S. telephium, Please name cultivar you are describing
Stipa arundinacea
Stipa calamagrostis
Stipa gigantea

Teucrium hircanicum
Thalictrum aquilegifolium

Vernonia, Please name cultivar you are describing


Veronicastrum virginicum, Please name cultivar you are describing.
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