Phlowers & Problem-Solving – Calendula and Whitefly Deterrents

I love this shade of yellow and am pleased that many of the Calendula seeds I sowed in the Spring are growing in my garden. Calendula are easy to grow. You can sow them indoors for early bloom, they also do well direct-sown into the ground, and are often part of wildflower seed packets. There are many medicinal uses for Calendula, making them a powerhouse plant when you consider the beauty they add to the garden. I’ve planted Calendula in hanging baskets, in pots, and in the ground. Calendula also bloom in a lovely cantaloupe shade of orange.

Unfortunately, that lovely yellow color and bright green foliage makes the Calendula a prime target of whiteflies and aphids. Aphids are easy to control with a dousing of the hose or handpicking. Whiteflies are not as easy, and need a bit of baiting to be trapped. I used the same beautiful yellow color to lure them to their demise.

I gathered a few items together, a yellow plastic cup, clear packing tape, string, scissors, and a paper clip.

I punched a hole in the bottom of the cup with the scissors, and strung the string into it with the paperclip opened up to keep it in place. I wound the tape around the cup, sticky side out, covering all the sides.

I hung this near the area of whitefly infestation.

Success! The whiteflies, attracted by the yellow, landed on the sticky tape and met their fate. It has rained, and the tape is a little less sticky now, but it’s easy to replace. This is a low-cost fix for pests with the plus of using no harsh chemicals. Brushing the plants near the trap several times a day causes the flies to swarm off the plants and helps the trap capture more of the pests.

This post is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

If you don’t want to make your own traps, whitefly sticky traps are also available in hardware stores and garden centers.

Phlowers – Flower of the Day/Fan Flower

I love Fan Flowers (Scaevola aemula) for many reasons. The fan-shaped bloom comes to mind first. The ease in growing them and the way the blossoms cascade over the edge of a hanging basket is also a plus.

They combine well in their pot with yellow and black pansies, purple heliotrope and diamond frost euphorbia.

My plants are often visited by goldfinches. They pluck the ripening seeds from the lower branches of the plant, giving me many moments to admire their beauty as they feed. Fan flowers are one of many plants that attract and shelter backyard birds.

I have a pinkish fan flower, but it is not as vibrant as the purple. I like having more choices though, and this color combines nicely with other shades of pink and purple.

Fan flowers are one of my favorites for flower pressing. If picked just after they unfurl they retain their color perfectly. They combine well with other pressed flowers.

This post is part of Skywatch Friday and Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers – Salvia Flowers and Hummingbirds

Salvias, sometimes referred to as Sage, are one of my favorite garden plants. I grow both types, perennial and annual, and find the flowers and plants rarely disappoint.

Salvias grow best in full sun, and draw hummingbirds, butterflies and many types of pollinating insects to my gardens. I have planted several in hanging baskets this year to keep them high and in full view of my kitchen window. Dinner preparations often become prime time for watching hummingbirds as they visit these plants.

A great article on various kinds of salvias can be found on the Spruce. Common types of Salvia Flowers.

This post is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers & Perspective – Cracked!

When I was much younger, and someone mentioned something that was without merit or totally crazy, the slang I would use to address their idea was often, ‘You’re cracked!’ Or if someone did something funny I might say, ‘You crack me up!’ Honestly, doesn’t it seem that suddenly so much we take for granted is CRACKED…and I mean that as crazy, broken, and out of sync due to the Covid-19 virus.

Right now, Covid-19 is all over the world, people in most civilized areas have had their normal routines shattered. As I think about this unexpected crack-up in my own life, I’m reminded of the Autumn 2019 moment I found a beautiful treasure in the cracks of my front sidewalk. As I walked over the cement blocks, little glimmers of green, and spots of color caught my eye. When I looked closer I recognized small plants, offspring of front garden coleus, growing in the bare minimum of earth gathered in the cracks. Being the scavenger that I am, I removed chunks of the dirt, plants intact, with a putty knife, placed them in a lidded produce package, and brought them indoors.

This week, which is months after I first gathered and planted the scraps of earth and small plants, my husband remarked that the sprouts growing in the cracks of the sidewalk had become the perfect arrangement.

Even better hidden beneath the larger plants are these gems:

What treasure can you find or discover in this ‘cracked’ time of  ‘social distancing?’ A new hobby, a garden, a pen-pal, blog posts, songs of praise, more time to pray; the list is endless. I hope we all find something new and special to occupy us during this time of change.

Phlowers – Laurentia/Pretty in Pink

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I’m growing Laurentia, (Isotoma axillaris) the ‘Pretty in Pink’ variety, as a container plant again this year. This lovely star-shaped flower also comes in a periwinkle blue and white. The foliage is daisy-like in a pretty green shade.

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The flowers are lovely from both front and side-view. The buds are interesting as they form and open.

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The petals have a nice curve and capture raindrops as they fall. I don’t do anything special for this plant. It grows in full sun from mid-morning until early afternoon. If the soil becomes a little dry it doesn’t seem to suffer. A few rainy days in a row don’t seem to bother it too much.

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The only problem I have found the plant to have is the leaves begin to yellow as they age. I remove them without difficulty for a better appearance. The Master Gardener Program of the University of Wisconsin says that Laurentia plants shed their spent flowers and don’t need deadheading. Shearing them back in mid-season will promote regrowth.

Laurentia are native to Australia.

This post is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

 

Phlowers – FOTD/Verbena

I press quite a few flowers over the course of the growing season and verbena is one of my favorites for this craft. I was pleased to find a pinwheel variety this year and can’t wait to see if it will hold its colors. Verbena is easily preserved between the pages of books or in a flower press. The flower is somewhere between the size of a dime and nickel. For small pressed flower arrangements it is irreplaceable. Red is usually a fugitive color in flower pressing, but verbena holds the red color for years. An entry from the Philadelphia Flower Show 1994 hangs on my wall and the verbena still has a bit of red left in its petals.

Verbena comes in a great variety of colors. Red, purple, lavender, fuschia, peach and whites. Just like my new pinwheel variety, new looks are debuted every year.

I don’t plant verbena directly in the ground. Every verbena plant I have is in a hanging basket or pot of some kind because the greatest threat to a long growing season is powdery mildew. I’ve found growing the verbena in pots protects the leaves from this problem for a longer period of time. I’ve read fungicides will work, but usually I just throw the plant away if it becomes diseased.

Verbena is my choice for Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers – Flower of the Day/Poinsettia

I know it’s a bit strange, but this poinsettia plant is my Flower of the Day. It has held onto its colorful bracts since November, and is still looking good. I think it deserves a second chance at life outside among the ivy. If I can coax it to grow after the bracts fall off or brown, I will try to get the green leaves to color up again, although I have heard it is near impossible. Still…I can dream.

Phlower & Perspective – Iris Cathedral

Purple Iris – Flower of the Day

“I have had more than half a century of such happiness. A great deal of worry and sorrow, too, but never a worry or a sorrow that was not offset by a purple iris, a lark, a bluebird, or a dewy morning glory.” ~ Mary McLeod Bethune

This regal flower reminds me today of beauty lost. How horrifying it was yesterday to witness Notre Dame in flames and realize there was nothing to be done to save it. A reminder to make the most of every moment, so much can change in just a matter of minutes or hours.

Phlowers – Matrix Yellow Purple Wing Pansy

It’s hard to make a decision. Today I stood in a greenhouse gazing at hundreds of pansies in every color imaginable. Matrix Yellow Purple Wing won out for this year. I love the contrast of deep purple and yellow, and as always, feel drawn to the flowers that resemble the face of a cat.

There is no other plant that better captures in flower form my feelings of spring.

Phlowers – A Humble Weed

It might be a weed, but I think it’s also pretty enough to be included in Cee’s Flower of the Day. Garden Cress is a wild edible. It grows luxuriantly in nooks and crannies all over my yard. This small plant has interesting leaves. I press quite a few each year to use in pressed flower crafting. You can take a look at how to press this on The Flower Ark – Pressing Garden Cress.

What you might not have noticed in the first photograph is how very small the flower is. The flowers in the first photograph would barely cover the diameter of a dime.

Phlowers – Silken Petals

Autumn Rose Scepter
Pure silk bloom of royalty
Reigning o’er chill Fall

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
                                                              ~ Matthew 6:28-30

This rose isn’t waiting for dormancy, but is blooming still. When I pick a flower, whatever the season, I have contact with the Creator of heaven and earth. Does this bring the 2018 growing season a sense of closure or will I still dream of rosebuds in December?

Today’s beautiful blossom is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Blog Post.

Phlowers – Marigolds

At this time of year, I often walk around my gardens with pencil and tablet to record what I’ve liked, or even more important, make note of what I don’t want to repeat.

To add a bit of Autumn color to my flowered-out front garden, I transplanted a few bunches of marigolds that were growing in an over-crowded area in the backyard. The marigolds have shallow roots and were easy to move. I thought ahead and chose an overcast day with rain in the forecast to dig them out and replant. The cooler temperatures and rainy weather have helped them adapt to the front gardens. I’ve enjoyed their russet burst of color so much, next year I’m planning to plant a patch of this variety in an out of the way place, expressly for transplanting to the front gardens in Autumn.

My garden keeps me young and full of dreams for each season.

“Garden as though you will live forever.” ~ William Kent

Phlowers – Dahlia Show

Longwood Gardens and The Greater Philadelphia Dahlia Society hosted The American Dahlia Society’s 2018 National Show this past weekend. I was able to attend and admire the many varieties. My husband and I are inspired to grow a few named varieties of dahlias in next year’s garden. We both had our favorites. I loved the large dinner plate dahlias. My favorite was the pink and yellow bloom.  These dahlias are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day. 

My husband likes the simpler daisy-like blossom. I’m sure there is room for both our favorites in our 2019 gardens. It will be fun to research and plan ahead throughout the winter months. 

I love this view of the display. The spectators blend right into the blooms and seem to be part of the beautiful indoor garden. 

Dahlia love: A garden of dahlias and admirers. 

Longwood Gardens has a very informative article on growing dahlias: Growing Dahlias at Home

There are several sources for dahlia tubers in the US, I’ve included a sampling:

Swan Islands Dahlias 

Corralito’s Gardens

Another good source for dahlia information can be found at the Dahlia Addict site.

Phlowers – Wildflower Walk

“May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in the beauty and joy of each day.” ~ Native American Proverb

Jewelweed – Autumn Wildflower

I haven’t taken part in a WetCanvas Plant Parade Challenge for quite a while. For the month of September, the host has chosen wildflowers. I thought it a great opportunity to grab my camera and take a walk to look for Autumn wildflowers. The jewelweed, in the photo above, might seem fragile, but the plant has some mighty powers; jewelweed is a natural remedy for poison ivy.

“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.” ~ Georgia O’Keefe

Other wildflowers I found were goldenrod, autumn clematis, late-season honeysuckle, and evening primrose.

My wildflower walk is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers & Photograph – Rose of Sharon

My Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) photograph is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Today is an overcast day in southern New Jersey…again. We’ve had a very wet summer and it looks like the upcoming Autumn season might bring the same. When I take a walk a little later in the morning, I will be sure and grab my camera to take along. I have found grey days create an amazing background for skyline photographs. The moisture in the air forms a screen of sorts, and shadows magically appear within the mistiness surrounding the plant. You can see this effect in the unretouched photo above.

A few years ago a generous friend sent me seeds from her Rose of Sharon bush. This sweet little tree is the result. I grew it in the house for quite a while, and then, when I felt it was hardy enough, planted it outdoors. It has thrived this summer and grown to about three feet tall. Plants given to me by friends always bring me great joy.

The leaves of the Rose of Sharon are glossy and green and don’t appear to be tempting to many garden pests. Hooray. Thanks again to the kind lady who sent me these seeds. You can find excellent growing and pruning tips for Rose of Sharon at The Spruce.

These photographs are part of Skywatch Friday. Thanks for stopping by today.