All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A by Pernell Gerver

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"The Best Shade Perennials"

Gardening in the shade presents both a challenge and an opportunity. An otherwise dark, lifeless location in the home landscape can be transformed into a beautiful, successful shade garden.

There are many different degrees of shade including filtered shade, part shade, open shade, deep shade, and seasonal shade. Depending on the amount of shade, there are many plants suited to growing in shady conditions - it's all in the plant selection. With the right choice of plants, any shady spot can be home to attractive flowers and foliage.

There are many perennials that can brighten up a shady spot. Click on the plant's name to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Lenten rose is one of the earliest-blooming perennials for a shady garden. It blooms in early to mid March alongside daffodils and is in bloom for up to four months. Flowers of Lenten rose are pale pink, rose, or deep maroon. Many are speckled or spotted. Lenton rose is an evergreen perennial with handsome foliage. It grows a foot and a half tall and forms a clump as wide.

Fringed bleeding heart 'King of Hearts'Another spring-blooming perennial that brightens up a shady corner is fringed bleeding heart 'King of Hearts.' This is also one of the longest-blooming perennials. It begins blooming in early spring and continues to frost. In my garden, it's been in bloom as early as late March. Unlike the common bleeding heart that dies down to the ground after blooming, fringed bleeding heart does not. It keeps its leaves all season long. Its attractive fern-like foliage is topped with pink, heart-shaped flowers held on slender, arching flower stems. It forms a tidy clump a foot high and wide.

Ligularia 'The Rocket' is one of the few plants that grows and blooms well in deep shade. It grows where other plants won't. It forms a two-foot-tall mound of heart-shaped foliage that is deeply cut along the edges. It almost has a prehistoric look to it. Beautiful five-foot-tall flower spikes appear in midsummer. The deep-purple flower stems are lined with bright-yellow flowers. I grow it in the shadiest part of my garden where nothing else will grow.

Hakonechloa is one of the best ornamental grasses for shade. It forms a dense mass of arching stems variegated with gold and white that really brighten up a shady spot in the garden. All the stems arch downward in the same direction, creating a flowing effect. Hakonechloa is a dwarf ornamental grass, growing only about a foot and a half tall and a couple of feet wide.

August lily is a type of hosta that I grow more for its flowers than for its foliage. In late August it bears tall flower spikes that carry six-inch-long white, waxy, tubular flowers that have a sweet fragrance, similar to freesia. Its foliage is light green. It's a medium-sized hosta, growing about two feet high and wide.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Use Neem Oil and Milky Spore Powder Grub Control to Eliminate Japanese Beetles"

Q. I need your help with a problem. This year I seem to have more Japanese beetles than ever before. They're eating my roses and I've found lots of them on my daylilies, too. I've also found a few on my squash plants. Is there a safe way to get rid of these beetles? I need to get rid of them before they completely destroy my garden. Thanks for your help!

A. Japanese beetles are pretty easy to control. I use a combination of Neem Oil and Milky Spore Powder Grub Control. Neem Oil is an organic spray that I use to control the adult beetles. It kills them on contact. Neem Oil is made from the seeds of the neem tree that grows in India. It's a contact killer as well as a growth regulator, antifeedant, and repellent. For a severe infestation, I recommend spraying every seven to 10 days. As a preventative, I spray about once every couple of weeks.

Japanese beetles begin life as grubs, so use Milky Spore Powder Grub Control to eliminate the grubs before they even turn into beetles. Milky Spore Powder Grub Control is a naturally-occurring bacteria that infects only grubs. Once applied, the bacteria quickly spreads throughout the colony of grubs, killing them. It's a long-term control of grubs in the lawn and garden. One application lasts 15 to 20 years or more! I put it down in my own lawn and garden about 20 years ago and haven't had a problem with grubs or beetles since.

By using Neem Oil to control the adult beetles and Milky Spore Powder Grub Control to eliminate the grubs, you should be able to get rid of the Japanese beetles in no time!

Click here to order Neem Oil from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Click here to order Milky Spore Powder Grub Control from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

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