Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How to Plant a Perennial Symphony

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How to Plant a Perennial Symphony

Article excerpt

Successful perennial gardeners are a lot like orchestra conductors.

They must possess impeccable timing - especially during the planting season. If they don't know when certain perennials they've planted are going to bloom, there will be long, colorless gaps that disrupt the harmony of their gardens.

Most perennial gardens are designed to feature various blooms, along with a lush accompaniment of spring bulbs, summer grasses, and a background of evergreens. The idea is to showcase a variety of colors in successive crescendos throughout the growing season: from the snowdrops of early spring to the asters of autumn. "Perennial gardens are wonderful because they challenge you to be creative during the planting season," says garden expert Karen Strohbeen. "Gardeners must also have a firm grasp on when certain plants hit their peak as well as a good place to position them." Mrs. Strohbeen's 13-part gardening series, "The Perennial Gardner," premiered Saturday, April 10, on PBS (check local listings for future broadcasts). "When done well, a perennial garden can be very dramatic - as beautiful to look at as one of Monet's garden impressions," Strohbeen says. Perennials are plants that renew themselves each year. Trees, bulbs, lawns, ferns, and flowers like primrose, chrysanthemum, and poppy are are considered perennials. A few varieties of vegetables are as well. Strohbeen takes an artful yet practical approach to perennial gardening. Her show, taped at her gardens in southwest Iowa, demonstrates gardening basics that can be applied to almost all types of perennial gardens throughout the country. Strohbeen gently presents useful tips for both serious and casual gardeners. And she frequently visits with a variety of gardening experts who share their skills and knowledge. Although each show has a different theme - "Pretty Onions," and "Mixed Gardening," for example - the series emphasizes starting and caring for perennial gardens. So how does a gardner plan and care for a perennial garden? …

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