The forsythia seemed to be the only sunshine as I watched the sky on this day of April showers.
I find a sense of security in the burst of color from garden perennials. I rely on the plants that green up and blossom with the warmth of the springtime sun. They give me hope that winter is truly behind us.
I planted dozens of daffodils in the Autumn. Even against an angry sky they glow.
This pale yellow hyacinth might not have strong color, but it still has the same glorious scent as the varieties that sport brighter hues. This hyacinth is my choice for Flower of the Day.
Rounding out my collection of yellow flowers are these sweet Johnny-Jump-Ups.
Camellia flowers – what a perfect way to start the week. Cee, host of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge, posted a beautiful camellia today. Inspired by her photograph, I looked through my flower files and found a few vibrant Camellia photos taken in the Longwood Gardens Conservatory. Nothing banishes winter blues quite as well as the indelible hope and beauty of flowers in bloom.
Even the buds are beautiful.
What’s better than a perfect Camellia blossom? Why, two of course.
Beautiful ovals, egg-shaped, the flowers open above the slender green stems into a gorgeous blossom with interesting centers. I like tulip flowers in all their stages. Even as they begin to dry and become papery, they have subtle beauty. Their vase life is well over a week in my cold winter house, and as a bonus, they grow taller as they age. I sure wish I was growing taller as I aged. 🤔
These beautiful petals, and spring-like fragrance they emitted in their final days, were a pleasant surprise this week. They began their display in my home, a bit disappointing being a little shorter than expected. They finished off their flowering with a bang, wowing me with streaks of pinkish red and wide open bloom. The flowers above are yellow tulips.
When I look at the unfurled petals my first impulse is to grab my watercolors and brushes. Perhaps I will do just that this week if I find the time. The tulips are bordered by spider plantlets rooting in green glass. The chartreuse leaves behind the flowers are a newly acquired philodendron called, ‘Golden Goddess.’
Amaranthus caudatus – Love Lies Bleeding, is a beautiful annual plant. Mine self seeds and comes back every year in the same spot. It is a heavy plant, bending over in summer storms when laden with flowers.
The flower heads droop down, in a deep magenta/crimson shade. Often the strands will touch the ground.
My Love Lies Bleeding grows in full sun. When the flowers reach a good length I often cut them where they join the stem, rubber band them together, and hang them in a dark closet. Harvesting and drying them is that easy…but wait…I should have put something beneath them to capture the seeds that fall out as they dry.
I have also dried the flowers in my dehydrator.
One drawback is the inevitable chewed leaves on the plant. The lush foliage is attractive to bugs, and is also a green that can be eaten by people. The leaves can be used like spinach and sauteed. The seeds are a type of grain and can be dried, cooked, and eaten like porridge. They can be ground into flour. Amaranth is gluten free.
Who would believe this gorgeous deluge of pink florets is atop the humble herb Oregano? I have quite a few Oregano plants in the front of my herb garden border. Not only flavorful, this member of the mint family is a healing herb. Oregano is a wonderful herb to use for its preventative/medicinal qualities. As with most foods and herbs, organically grown Oregano is the best choice.
Oregano florets draw pollinators by the dozens. Today, along with the honeybee, I also spotted wasps, bumblebees, cabbage white butterflies, hoverflies and sweat bees on the blossoms.
Black-eyed Susans are a reliable flower in my gardens. They usually don’t last the whole summer, and often fall victim to downy mildew on the leaves, but the golden sunshine they display is worth growing them. I’ve never been able to eradicate the mildew once it starts, so my remedy is to plant a late-flowering annual nearby to take over when the Black-eyed Susan withers away. This Photograph is part of Skywatch Friday.
The plants are part of the sunflower family and will turn their faces to follow the sun. There are many varieties of this beautiful garden flower. The long stems make them a perfect choice for floral arrangements.
Black-eyed Susans are a reliable self-seeder. Let them go to seed and they will return every year.
My African Daisy plants are blooming. I’m thrilled! In mid-Spring, I sprinkled them on lightly-troweled soil within the confines of my butterfly/wildflower garden, and they are coming into bloom.
The colors are lovely, and even the foliage is a pleasing blue-grey. The buds are fun to watch as they open; I love seeing the first glimmer of color within the tightly folded interior.
I’m hoping one of the plants opens up into the rosy pink color portrayed on the seed packet. These flowers are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day challenge.
I’ve kept the seed packet in my garden notebook. I grew quite a few seeds this year from the Botanical Interests line. Everything did well, and next year they will be my first choice for seeds. I found this brand of seeds at local nurseries. They are not carried in the big box stores. Botanical Interests is having a 40% off seed sale through June 17th.
Common Evening Primrose (Oenothera bieinnis) is blooming in my garden today. It is another welcome volunteer wildflower in my herb garden. Most parts of the evening primrose are edible or medicinal. The flowers also draw goldfinches to my gardens when they begin to set seed. I never trim off the dead blossoms after the plant blooms; being able to watch goldfinches alight on the long stems, and eat the seeds, is one of my summer joys. These plants grow in gardens, in meadows, along roadways, and I have even seen a few very hardy plants growing in the cracks of concrete sidewalks and blacktop.
Pale yellow is one of my favorite garden colors, and surprisingly, I find it one of the hardest shades to find in annual flowers. Gold is easy, bright yellow is easy, but a creamy, near white yellow is a bit difficult. You can imagine my delight this past Spring when I found a packet of pale yellow Nasturtiums in a seed display. I bought a packet with high hopes, and I have not been disappointed. “YETI” has lived up to it’s seed packet illustration, and boasts the creamy yellow I had sought for my garden pots.
Even the perky buds of this plant please me. They remind me of ponies before they unfurl their petals. The foliage, resembling small lilypads in shape, is a deep pleasing green with beautiful centers and veining. Even better, most parts of a Nasturtium plant are edible.
The plant has a robust look, but on closer inspection you’ll find a delicate interior with feathery fronds and puffballs of pollen. Did you know that Nasturtiums have medicinal properties?
I also love the Alaska variety of nasturtiums for the amazing variegated foliage.
I sowed some of my Nasturtium seeds indoors mid-winter. They did fairly well, becoming a bit leggy, but still manageable. Planted in hanging basket pots, they are already in bloom. I recently planted several more Nasturtiums in the ground. I soak the large seeds first, and then without any fanfare, just push them about a half inch below the surface of the soil. The sprouts are easy to spot, large, and with the distinctive lilypad leaf from first showing.
If you want long-lived, healthy roses with an excellent root system, watering deeply and fertilizing are the best route to follow.
When rainfall is scarce and my rosebeds become dry, I water deeply using old milk gallon containers. I’ve shared this tip before, but I’ve adapted it a bit since last posted. Roses can develop black-spot disease if their foliage becomes wet. In the past, I always managed to get my roses wet when I filled the gallon container through the narrow opening at the top. This year, I cut a hole large enough to slip my garden wand into. Since I don’t begin to add water until the end of the nozzle is in the milk carton, the rose leaves remain dry.
A small hole poked with an ice pick or a screwdriver in one corner of the milk carton bottom is all you need to get a good supply of water into the soil. Because the water flows slowly, instead of running off to the side, it sinks down into the earth where it reaches the roots of the rose bush. Rose bushes thrive on two gallons of water per week in dry weather.
I also use the gallon watering method when I feed the roses every two weeks. I scratch the dry, organic fertilizer into the soil with a hand cultivator, then place the gallon over the loosened dirt and give the rose one to two gallons of water to work the fertilizer down to the roots. With minimal effort I deeply water and fertilize my roses with this method.
This deep watering technique also works well for newly planted bushes and trees. Larger perennials also benefit from this type of deep watering.
This year I converted two of my Square Foot vegetable gardens into rose beds. The soil is still loose and full of good compost, and the new roses have thrived. I bought these as bargain roses in the Spring, driving from place to place to find the best colors and varieties. I devoted the beds to a bright color scheme of yellows, corals, peaches and whites. Highlighted with a few white geraniums, the flower bed will glow in the moonlight.
The first rose to bloom in these beds is Golden Glow. Although the rose has only a faint fragrance, the color is gorgeous, and oh my, the staying power of the flower has been miraculous. The petals opened on Sunday, have given a gorgeous display, and even after a very heavy thunderstorm last night, are still holding on strong this beautiful Thursday morning. Hooray!
I’ve grown Mr. Lincoln for years. In the early 2000’s, I first planted a few of these roses after a kind lady gave me a bouquet of them from her garden. I had never smelled a rose with such a strong and beautiful fragrance. The roses thrived in my side yard, but a few years ago, when we had to take a large oak tree down, the rose bushes were moved and didn’t thrive in the new location.
This year, I found several Mr. Lincoln roses at Walmart. They were such a good price I made a Walmart run to every store in our area. I found five that were in good shape and planted them a second time in the side yard. The roses are growing way beyond my expectations. I feel they are a gift to me from God. I had looked for them online, and the price and shipping was outrageous, so I had decided not to order them this year. I’m thrilled to quite unexpectedly have these beauties in my gardens once more.
The first rose to bloom in my 2021 garden was ‘Blue Lagoon.’ This beautiful rose is one of my oldest bushes, and is so large, I have to trim it to keep it off the back wall of the house. It is very disease resistant, and best of all, the flowers are sweetly fragrant.
The fragrance makes it a perfect choice to add to my Grain Alcohol Springtime blend. Last year, I wrote of using Vodka to extract the fragrant floral oils from flowers. I had a bit of success, however, the immediate results of using the higher proof Grain Alcohol has been truly exciting. Unfortunately, the color of the petals is also extracted. At this time, because of the mix of many colors, the Grain Alcohol is a muddy brown, but the scent, oh my, the scent is sublime.
I only use flowers that are edible, or that I have researched as non-poisonous. There are some beautiful fragrant flowers that I don’t use. Lily of the Valley is an example of a fragrance I like, but the plant is toxic, and isn’t something I want to take a chance with in my extraction. Skin can absorb the oils in the extraction so anything that is edible seems to be a safer choice.
The pink of the petals will disappear in two days. The fragrance in the flower will transfer in the same amount of time. I’m eagerly awaiting the blossoming of honeysuckle in our area. I will work on this jar until the end of May and then begin a ‘Summer’ jar of fragrant flowers.
We have been seeing a small ruby-throated hummingbird for two weeks. It has been visiting the feeder of nectar I have outside the kitchen window. Every other day, I bring the feeder in, soak it in hot, sudsy water, and refill with newly boiled sugar water. (2 Cups water, 1/2 Cup sugar) Hummingbird feeders can spread disease or become contaminated with mold. A great article on feeding hummingbirds can be found at EcoSystem Gardening.
NOTE: Thanks to a reader for the great comment about cleaning with vinegar. I did a bit of research on it and this is a good choice for cleaning the feeder. Also, another good idea is to use a brush to thoroughly clean all the nooks around the feeder openings. Here’s a link to more ideas for cleaning a hummingbird feeder. How to Clean a Hummingbird Feeder.
Mandevilla Vines come in a variety of colors. I chose to grow the pink flowers this year. These vines are beloved by hummingbirds. The vines bloom from Spring until Autumn, they do well in full sun, but also need to be shaded from the hottest late afternoon rays. I am growing the Mandevilla in a pot so that when summer is over I can bring it indoors for the colder months.
I have three hanging baskets a yard or two away from the hummingbird feeder. These are filled with plants I know hummingbirds adore. Blue Suede Salvia and Vista Red Salvia, also called sages, have the trumpet-shaped flowers that perfectly fit a hummingbird’s beak and tongue. These plants do great in full sun, but also can take a bit of shade too.
My beautiful Vermillion Cuphea, also known as Firecracker plants, are always a favorite with the hummingbirds. I grow them in the ground and also planted in pots. Last Autumn, the Firecracker plant I grew in a pot easily transferred to the house. It grew well all winter, and this week I placed it outdoors on the patio again. It is doing well, although some of the uppermost leaves, after growing in the lower light of the house, promptly became sunburned. Since I pinched the tops of these stems, new branching will soon leaf out and cover up the scorched top leaves.
Cuphea plants in a row will make a nice seasonal hedge. This plant is perennial in warmer climates.
I love bleeding heart bushes and their blossoms. The heart-shaped droplets truly do resemble hearts. These beautiful florets are my choice for Cee’s Flower of the Day.
From just a few rhizomes my grape iris have multiplied over the years into several large patches of deep purple bloom. These are also a Springtime favorite of mine. The fragrance they emit is outstanding.
Grape hyacinths are blooming in shades of periwinkle along the borders of several gardens.
The Johnny-Jump-Ups that overwintered are filling the hanging baskets and blooming over the edges. They are gorgeous.
My Plant is about ten inches tall, and about that size in width too. I planted it last Spring and it came through a snowy New Jersey winter very well. The flowers only bloom one time for me, but the bluish green foliage blends in well with other garden plants.
My golden alyssum florets and stems press perfectly. I gather a few and place them between the pages of a book. Long after the outdoor blooms have come and gone, the pressed flowers from this plant are still vibrant and intact.
I planted a new Forsythia in the side garden. It seems to be doing well, and the bright yellow blooms have been a mood booster for sure. The Forsythia is part of this week’s Friday Skywatch.
Daffodils are still opening and blooming in several different colors and sizes.
Starflowers are opening up in the side garden.
Siberian Squill, one of my Springtime favorites, reflects the gorgeous blue of the sky. This dainty flower is my choice for Cee’s Flower of the Day. (I had originally, in error, named this bulb plant as Glory of the Snow. Reading another bloggers post I realized I had the wrong name and changed it to the correct label.)
Periwinkles are my ‘never-give-up’ flower. They are surrounded on all sides, overtaken by English Ivy, yet they wiggle their way through the tangled stems and bloom every Spring.