|As a first-time gardener, what are some perennial plants you recommend? The area has full/partial sun. We need something easy--we've never done this before!
|Many perennials grow quite slowly from seed, so you'll have to wait a few seasons before they'll even begin to flower. If it's at all possible, I'd suggest you try purchasing at least some established (potted) plants, to get things going more quickly, and give you some flowers this summer. (Burpee sells a "Sunny Corner" garden on page 19 of their current catalog, that might help you get started.) Following are some suggestions for good perennials for your region.
Daylilies are a very reliable perennial; other good choices include yarrow, coreopsis, black-eyed susans, coneflowers, daisies, asters, bee balm, phlox, salvia, and veronica (speedwell). Hosta and astilbe are two good choices for shady spots.
You could also simply go to your local garden center; find the section on "perennials"; pick out what you like; buy them; follow the planting instructions and ENJOY!
Each plant description will tell how tall it will become when full grown; its color; whether it likes shade or sun and, of course, its cultural needs. If, after it is grown, you don't care for how it looks next to something else, or it's gotten too tall, or maybe disappeared among its peers, you can just move it! That's the wonderful thing about gardening. Nothing is forever.
You could also visit your local library or bookstore, and check out some gardening books. Many have photos of established gardens, so you can get some ideas for laying out the beds. The book "Perennials for Dummies" (forgive the name!) has lots of good information for beginners, and photos of all the flowers I mentioned above.