All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A

by Pernell Gerver

Bookmark this page or add it to your favorites now!
(Reload or refresh each time you visit to get the current week's columns.)

 Tell a friend about Pernell Gerver's Official Web Site 

"The Best of the Newest Perennial Introductions"

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. All of them can be planted any time now through fall. Click on a plant name below to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

Helleborus 'Swirlin' Skirts'Hellebores are prized for their very-early-spring flowers. Many bloom as early as late winter. The exciting new variety 'Swirlin' Skirts' bears fully-double, ruffled flowers that are sparkling white with burgundy speckles and a chartreuse-green throat. Prominent creamy-yellow-green stamens fill the center of the flower. It blooms from early to late spring. Its glossy, deep-green, evergreen foliage forms a handsome clump 16 inches high and up to two feet wide. It combines nicely with early-spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils.

Columbine 'Pink Lanterns'Columbine is a colorful, late-spring-blooming perennial. 'Pink Lanterns' is a new variety with delicate, short-spurred, pink flowers with magenta inner petals that are edged with pale yellow. The nodding flowers bloom atop foot-tall stems from May to July. It forms a dense clump of deep-green foliage.


Phlox 'Peppermint Twist'Tall garden phlox is a popular summer-blooming perennial and a new variety introduced this year is quite eyecatching. Called 'Peppermint Twist' this tall garden phlox bears large flower clusters that bear stunning bi-colored flowers. Each flower petal is bright pink with a distinct band of white running down the center, giving the flower a pinwheel pattern. The flowers bloom atop compact, 16-inch stems. It has good disease resistance.

Purple coneflower is another popular summer-blooming perennial that provides a long season of bloom. Hybridizers have been developing many nice, new varieties in recent years and one of the more outstanding introductions is the variety 'After Midnight.' It's a dwarf variety, growing just a foot tall that bears large, dark-magenta-purple flowers with a black-red cone. The flowers are fragrant, which is unique for purple coneflower. The large flowers bloom atop well-branched, blue-green foliage. Like all purple coneflowers, it'a a favorite of butterflies and bees.

Hakonechloa macra 'Nicolas'There are many nice ornamental grasses for fall and one of the most colorful is Hakonechloa macra 'Nicolas.' It forms a handsome clump of arching, green leaves that take on orange and red tones by early fall. The vibrant colors last through fall and really brighten up a shady spot in the garden. It's a compact ornamental grass, growing just over a foot high and as wide.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"Floating Row Cover Prevents Wilt Spread by Cucumber Beetle"


Q. In another Q & A column, you described the problem of wilting cucumber vines and using floating row cover to prevent it. What is a floating row cover? I grow my cucumbers vertically on netting. Could this cover be used?

A. A floating row cover is made of very lightweight, spun bonded polyester fabric. It lets sunlight, air, and water through, but keeps pests out - especially the striped cucumber beetle that spreads bacterial wilt causing cucumber vines to wilt and die. It is laid over the plants and secured at the ends to keep it from blowing away.

A floating row cover should be effective for your method of growing cucumbers vertically on netting. Next spring at planting time drape it over the top of the netting and secure it at the bottom with soil or heavy objects like bricks or rocks. Make sure the cover is draped loosely over the netting rather than snug up against it. This will allow room for the cucumber vines once they begin to grow up the netting. Remember to remove the floating row cover when the cucumber vines begin flowering to allow for pollination. To avoid having to remove the cover for pollination, next spring when selecting cucumber seeds, choose varieties that are self-pollinating and you'll be able to leave the floating row cover on until it's time to harvest.

Click here to submit gardening questions for Pernell Gerver's online Q & A column.

Click here to read previous online columns in the archives.

Pernell Gerver's Home page Pernell Gerver's Gardening Workshop Series Biographical profile - Pernell Gerver Pernell Gerver's Online Store Sign the guestbook
Mailing list Pernell Gerver's Plant of the Month Gardening questions for Pernell Gerver