All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A
by Pernell Gerver

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"You Gotta See These Exciting New Perennials!"

It's always exciting to grow something new and different in the garden. There are many new perennials that have been introduced in recent years with nice attributes. Many are horticultural breakthroughs. Click on a plant name below to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Brunnera 'Emerald Mist' Brunnera 'Emerald Mist' is a shade-loving perennial that has striking foliage. The heart-shaped leaves are emerald green marked with contrasting silver splotches. Bright-blue, forget-me-not-like flowers bloom in late spring. It forms a handsome mound 18 inches high and as wide. An added bonus is it's a deer-proof shade perennial.

Brunnera 'Spring Yellow'Brunnera 'Spring Yellow' combines attractive leaves and flowers. Its heart-shaped leaves are bright yellow as they emerge in spring and retain their chartreuse color nearly all season long. Airy clusters of bright-blue flowers that resemble forget-me-not flowers stand above the foliage in early to mid spring. The contrast between the blue flowers and the yellow foliage is stunning. Even after it's done blooming it remains a highlight in the shade garden.

Knautia 'Thunder & Lightning'Knautia is a summer-blooming perennial with attractive flowers. A new variety being introduced this year is 'Thunder & Lightning.' It's a sport that is shorter than the species, growing just over a foot tall. It bears fully-double, deep magenta-purple flowers. The flowers are set off by its eye-catching, variegated foliage. The combination is quite striking. It's a long-blooming perennial, in bloom from June to August and it thrives in a sunny spot in the garden.

Echinacea 'Red Knee High'Echinacea 'Red Knee High' is one of the newer coneflowers that have been introduced in recent years. This exciting new sport of ‘Kim's Knee High’ boasts the darkest and most vivid magenta coloring of any coneflower available today. It shares the same exceptional blooming traits and compact habit as ‘Kim's Knee High’ while adding a dazzling new color to the coneflower spectrum.

Echinacea 'Baby Swan White'Echinacea 'Baby Swan White' is another new coneflower introduction. It's an award-winning perennial that is a compact version of Echinacea 'White Swan.' It's one of the earliest coneflowers to bloom, producing flowers as early as June and it continues blooming into September. The flowers bloom atop well-branched stems that reach just 20 inches high. It thrives in sunny, hot spots in the garden and combines nicely with other summer-blooming perennials.


Hosta 'Rainforest Sunrise'Hybridizers are constantly creating new hosta varieties and one of the newer introductions is called 'Rainforest Sunrise.' This new hosta has thickly-textured, glossy, golden-green leaves that have narrow, dark-green edges. While it grows well in shade, the gold coloration is even brighter when grown in part sun. It's a compact hosta, reaching just under a foot high and forming a mound 16 inches wide. It bears pale-lavender flowers on two-foot-tall flower scapes in mid summer.

A large selection of these and many more exciting new perennials will be for sale at this workshop. See the "If You Go" box for more information.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Don't Plant Grapes Next to Climbing Roses"

Q. I would like to plant grapes and climbing roses next to each other. I would like to add that this is not my primary residence and I'm at the property every other week. Naturally I would need the type which does not require much maintenance. So far I have not done well with my rose bushes at home, however I was told that climbing roses are easier to take care of. Thank you.

A. If I were you, I would not plant grapes next to climbing roses. From what I've seen over the years of growing both grapes and climbing roses, I think you'd be setting yourself up for a problem in the future.

You see, grape vines are very vigorous plants that will grow quicker than the climbing roses and what's worse is grapes produce very large leaves that would easily smother out the smaller leaves of the climbing roses. If you were to plant them next to each other, soon the grape vines would take over and the climbing roses would do poorly, and possibly even die.

Try this combination of vines instead - grow climbing roses with clematis, a less-overpowering vine with beautiful flowers that go well with climbing roses. They both exist peacefully on the same trellis.

Climbing miniature rose 'Jeanne Lajoie'

Climbing Miniature Rose 'Jeanne Lajoie'

If you still want to grow grapes, give them their own trellis. That way they won't ruin any other plants. One method of growing grapes that I prefer is called the "four-arm Kniffen system." I've found this is the best type of trellising system for growing grapes because it produces the best-quality fruit and it makes the yearly must-do task of pruning much easier to do.

The four-arm Kniffen system is simply two wires held horizontally between posts. The bottom wire is placed at three and a half feet above the ground and the top wire is placed five and a half feet above the ground.

The young grapevine is planted in the center of the length of wires. As the grapevine grows it is trained to follow the wires. When the vine reaches the first wire two buds are allowed to grow - one is trained to go to the left side of the wire, and the other one is trained to go to the right side of the wire.

When the grapevine reaches the top wire, it is trained in the same way. The end result is a grapevine that has four "arms." This system keeps the grapevine under control and produces a much better yield and much better quality fruit than grapevines that are left to ramble all over the place.


Click here to read more about Climbing Miniature Rose 'Jeanne Lajoie' and order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store | Click here to read more about clematis and order them from Pernell Gerver's Online Store

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