All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A
by Pernell Gerver

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"The Best Spring-Blooming Perennials for Sun"

Spring-blooming perennials provide some of the earliest color in the flower garden. Many bloom alongside the spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils and early tulips and are wonderful companions. Spring-blooming perennials return year after year in the garden. This week the focus is on spring-blooming perennials for sun. Click on a plant name to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Pink Fringed bleeding heart is a spring-blooming perennial that begins blooming very early in the season. I've seen it in bloom in my garden as early as late March. It has medium-green, finely-divided foliage that forms a handsome clump. Large, bleeding-heart-shaped flowers are held in clusters on stems that stand above the foliage. Unlike the common bleeding heart that goes dormant after blooming leaving a hole in the garden, fringed bleeding heart blooms from early spring to frost, making it one of the longest-blooming perennials in the garden.

White fringed bleeding heartIn addition to pink, there is also a white fringed bleeding heart. It has the same attractive foliage with white bleeding-heart-shaped flowers that stand above the foliage. It too blooms from very early spring right to frost.

Phlox subulata 'Candy Stripe'Moss phlox is a early-to-mid-spring-blooming perennial that thrives in sunny spots. It's a low-growing perennial that forms a dense mat. The variety 'Candy Stripe' has unique bicolor flowers. The flowers are white with a pink stripe running down each petal. It blooms in early to mid spring and is virtually covered in flowers when in bloom.


Oriental Poppy 'Raspberry Queen'Oriental poppies are late-spring-blooming perennials with eye-catching flowers. 'Raspberry Queen' bears stunning flowers that stand atop three-foot-tall flower stems in late spring. Its crinkled, crepe-paper-like raspberry-pink petals have ruffled edges. Nearly-black blotches in the center of the flower really stand out against the pink petals. It forms a low clump of foliage.

Bearded iris bloom in mid to late spring. One of the nicest ones is Iris pallida. It's a stunning, variegated iris. Its sword-like foliage is green with a wide, creamy-yellow center. Tall flower stems carry violet-blue flowers. The flowers have a sweet fragrance reminiscent of grapes. The flowers are a striking combination with the foliage. Even when not in bloom, this iris has something to offer the garden.

Peonies are the queens of the late-spring-blooming perennials. There are many different varieties of peonies and one of the showiest is 'Raspberry Sundae.' Its double flowers have a single row of light-pink-to-white outer petals with a cluster of ruffled, raspberry-pink center petals. The flowers really do look like a bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with raspberries. The flowers are six inches wide or more and very fragrant.

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

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Remove Bird Feeders to Discourage Black Bear"

Q. I enjoy reading your columns and have gotten helpful advice from it. I need your advice about how to discourage black bears from coming into my yard. I have bird feeders and have heard the bears are attracted to them. Thanks for any advice you can give me.

A. While I have never had any personal experience, thankfully, with black bear, I have heard from people who have. Every now and then I'll get questions about black bear from people at my gardening workshops and on my Web site.

Whenever anyone asks me about how to discourage black bear from coming on their property the first question I will always ask them is if they have a bird feeder on their property. Everyone that has ever asked me about bear on their property has always said that they do have a bird feeder. Some have even watched a bear eat the bird seed that has fallen on the ground.

If I were you, I would take down any and all bird feeders on your property and clean up all of the bird seed on the ground because the bird seed attracts bear and they love to eat it. The last thing you want to do is feed the bears. If they know there's food there, they'll come looking for it.

One of our regulars who comes to my gardening workshops frequently told me a story about a close encounter she had with a black bear. She was on the phone inside her house and just happened to look up at the door. On the other side of the thin screen door was a black bear standing on its hind legs lookin