Phlowers – Amaranth/Love Lies Bleeding

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.

I love this unique, old-fashioned cottage garden annual. Love Lies Bleeding is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Phlowers – Deluge of Pink Flower Showers

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.

The Oregano blossoms are my entry into Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers – Friday Gems

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.

Black-eyed Susans are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Phlowers – African Daisy

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.

The Spruce has a great how-to article on African Daisies: How to Grow the African Daisy

Phlowers – Common Evening Primrose

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.

My Common Evening Primrose is my entry in Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Phlowers – Yeti Nasturtium

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.

My “Yeti” Nasturtium is part of Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Phlowers – Roses/Watering/Fertilizing

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.

Phlowers – A Week of Roses/Yellow Rose

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!

Phlowers – A Week of Roses/Mr. Lincoln/Fragrant Red Rose

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.

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

Projects & Phlowers – First Roses/Grain Alcohol – Update

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.

Phlowers & Pheathers – April 30th, Growing in the Garden/The Hummingbirds Return

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.

My mandevilla flowers are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day and also an entry in this week’s Skywatch Friday.

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.

Phlowers – Blooming in the Garden/April 23, 2021

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.

Phlowers – Flower of the Day/Bright Yellow Alyssum

The beautiful gold tones, the delicate details, of Yellow Alyssum (Aurinia saxatilis) are blooming in my garden today. A perfect choice for Cee’s Flower of the Day and also Bright April Squares Challenge from BeckyB of Winchester.

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.

The Spruce has a great article on growing Yellow Alyssum. (Aurinia saxatilis)

Phlowers – Blooming in the Garden/April 9, 2021

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.

“Flowers are the music of the ground. From earth’s lips spoken without sound.” ~Edwin Curran (American Poet)

Phlowers – Blooming in the Garden 3/26/21

We lost a shrub over the winter and replaced it this week with a beautiful Pieris japonica. The brilliant magenta florets and evergreen leaves make it a perfect choice for our front garden.

There are daffodils blooming in most of the garden beds.

These Johnny-Jump-Ups, bought in Autumn, over-wintered in my garage. A few weeks ago, I moved the baskets to my back porch, and now they are hanging outdoors in full bloom. There were days they looked pretty bad, but they continually amaze me and perk back up. They are my Flower of the Day in Cee’s FOTD challenge.

Hyacinths are blooming again. Daffodils and hyacinths are my most reliable Spring bulbs. I cut one of the blossoms and put the florets in grain alcohol, 190 proof. I created a floral scent with vodka this year, and hope the grain alcohol, with a higher alcohol content will extract the scent even quicker. It will take weeks of renewing the scented flowers before I will be able to sense a fragrance. The original post can be found here: Plants & Preserving the Good.

The grain alcohol is very strong. Within minutes it completely faded the bright pink flowers into near white. I hope it absorbs the scent just as quickly. I’ll update the progress later in the Spring.

 

Phlowers – Blooming This Week/FOTD

Bittercress is a wild edible. Cardamine hirsuta, the genus name, is a member of the cress family.

The small weedy plant grows everywhere in my yard. When I weed in early spring, I always wear goggles or a pair of glasses if wild cress is growing in my garden beds. It has a peculiar habit of exploding seedpods when touched, and I’ve had them hit me full in the face while weeding. I don’t want one to scratch my cornea so I am always careful to wear eye protection when they are in their seed stage.

The flower of garden cress is smaller than a dime. Garden cress is a perfect micro-green. Maybe this year I’ll save some of those exploding pods and grow it in the house over winter for salads.

Dependable yellow crocuses are blooming in the gardens this week. Every year they are my first bulb plant to burst out of their buds. They are this week’s entry into Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge.

Phlowers – Flower of the Day-Bougainvillea

All summer I waited for my Bougainvillea plant to bloom. At least three years old, I expected it to be loaded with blooms as it had been the previous year. Just like so many other things in 2020, the bougainvillea refused to bloom. In the Autumn, I almost composted the Bougainvillea, but decided to give it another chance.

I’ve been rewarded with soft pink blossoms. In reality, what appears to be blossoms are really bracts, the flowers are smaller than a dime and a nondescript white. There isn’t much upkeep to these plants if you place it in bright sun. I keep it trimmed way back indoors since the thorny stems can really tear skin. Other than watering once a week, I have pretty much ignored it. Maybe that’s the secret. One funny change in the plant, outdoors the bracts are magenta, inside the house they have bloomed in a soft pink shade.

I haven’t been able to take part in Cee’s Flower of the Day Challenge for quite a while; I’m glad to take part today.

Phlowers – Gaura

The lovely pink blossoms of Gaura resemble butterflies. The flowers, growing from the base of the plant on tall stalks, easily move with the breezes giving a perfect impersonation of butterflies flitting about in the garden.

I’ve been pleased with both varieties of Gaura I’m growing in my garden. One is taller, with sparser light pink blooms, the other shorter, covered with hot pink blossoms. They are side by side and the long stems blend together creating a beautiful display all summer long.

I don’t use them as a cut flower because I’ve found the petals fall off easily. I do carefully snip the florets at their base and place them inside books to press. They dry beautifully and the flowers retain their vivid color for quite awhile.

One of my plants is two years old. The other planted this past Spring, quickly grew to a large size. I hope to plant more of these beauties, but first I will check beneath them in the Spring to see if they self-seeded. I grow them in full, hot sun, in soil that quickly drains. They will develop root rot if planted in poorly draining soil.

You can find more information on how to grow Gaura on Gardening Know How.

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

Phlowers – Forget-Me-Not

I love the clear blue of annual Forget-Me-Nots. The blossoms are smaller than a dime, and the foliage is unspectacular, but the way the color reflects the sky thrills me. I might try to grow a few in the house this winter. Although the flower is small, the annual variety produces a large and interesting seed, often found in wildflower seed packets.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits. ~Psalm 103:2

If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under. ~ Ronald Reagan

These beautiful annual Forget-Me-Nots are part of Cee’s Flower of the Day.