When a cottage garden is well designed it makes you forget the planning that went into creating it and takes over by establishing new hierarchies, thriving on apparent randomness and developing a personality of its own. Read more…
If you choose the color purple for a monochromatic color scheme there is no scarcity of plants, annuals and perennials alike, to carry it through all four seasons.
You can start very early, even before spring sets in, with the intense magentas of the Lenten roses and as soon as the snow melts they are in the cheerful company of sweet violets, crocuses and hyacinths. Read more…
I learned the most important facts about roses from my grandfather and they go like this:
Roses are not fussy plants, if they have full sun exposure they will put up with conditions that few perennials can withstand: drought, heavy soils, extreme temperatures on both sides of the spectrum and even salty water. Read more…
Oriental lilies are in a league of their own. They are a class above other flowers in terms of fragrance; their perfume is just intoxicating and announces their presence from feet away, just in case you might have missed the pure white corolla with bright red stems (as the Casablanca in this picture).
What can I say? The squirrels and rabbits love them, so chances are that if you have any left of the tens you planted without a protective net, you are lucky. If they make it through a couple of seasons, though, they will form a strong expanding clump and you will enjoy them for years to come.
They bloom mid-summer and grow stately tall – 3-4 feet, so they will be happy towards the back of the border. Make sure they are not crowded, because they need good air movement around their stems to stay healthy. They love full to part-sun and will mix well with contrasting colors and textures, such as red astilbe, and delphiniums.
Miniature roses project an aura of frailty, and one would be tempted to shelter them in pots on a windowsill where they will be protected from the elements. Don’t!
First of all, these tiny roses, just like all the other roses, do miserably indoors, where they don’t have enough sunlight and fresh air.
Second, they are some of the toughest, most disease resistant roses I know. They don’t fall prey to the usual black spot, rust or Japanese beetles like their bigger, stronger cousins. They make it through the most aggressive droughts while blooming constantly. They are very successfully propagated from both soft and hard cuttings and put up with the heaviest soils. They will weather temperatures of 10 degrees below zero without protection.
Give them plenty of sun during the growing season, prune them when the forsythia blooms, and give them some food; they need no more.
Miniature roses are great for the front of the border, won’t grow very tall, 24 inches at most, and are absolutely precious. They come in white, cream, hot pink, blush, dark red, lavender, bi-color, and pretty much any color combination you can think of. Unfortunately they are not fragrant.
Does the word combination “care free rose” sound to you like an oxymoron? Give these tiny flowers a try. If they have enough sunlight, they will thrive. Please don’t forget that roses are social plants, they will thrive in mixed plantings and are especially happy around other roses.
A veteran among hybrid teas, the “Peace” rose lives up to its popularity. Healthy, strong and a prolific bloomer, it bears six or seven enormous fragrant flowers at a time. The long lasting flowers start up a creamy white with a delicate rose gradient edging and they fade to butter yellow, slightly darker in the middle. “Peace” has a classic rose fragrance, and its flowers are very suitable for bouquets and flower arrangements. It is a stocky plant with heavy canes and dark green leaves and it likes a well drained site in full sunshine. Roses like company, don’t plant them alone. If you would like your “Peace” to thrive, make sure it is in a border with other roses, and better still, other “Peace” roses.
How unearthly does that look! The “Giant Allium” does not only produce the well known beautiful purple globes, but after the flowers fade, it turns into this unbelievable spaceship seed. Don’t get overexcited though, the allium is done blooming mid June, and the seedpods don’t last long enough to provide winter interest. Another downer is that the flowers are either sterile or new plants are not coming true from seed.
That being said, though, it is a must in the perennial garden. The giant alliums come out faithfully year after year and if the conditions are good (at least part-sun and plenty of water), they will spread. You can dig them out and divide them in the fall to get more of these beautiful plats in your garden. They are completely care free, once you planted them and gave them a little bit of food, they will not need anything else. They are not disease prone and will not crowd your other plants. After the seeds are ripened, the plant dies back and will come back next spring.
This perennial grows up to 2 feet in height and about a foot wide and will provide food for the birds, bees and butterflies. Alliums are not scented, but the huge flower balls up to 8 inches in diameter are spectacular. Another plus is that squirrels don’t seem to have an appetite for the bulbs, so if you plant them in the fall, you’ll see them the following spring.
If you decide to try your luck and propagate the plant from seed, just let the seeds dry on the plant and store them in a brown paper bag in a place where they will not be susceptible to mold.
Come spring, plant in peat moss under a plastic or glass cover to contain the moisture. Good luck. If nothing else, you’ll satisfy your curiosity with respect to what can come out of those seeds. If you really, really want more of these beautiful plants, divide the bulbs.
If you ever considered making rose oil to use as fragrance or to add to your home made creams, potpourri and bath oils, “Bishop’s Castle” is definitely a great candidate. This Dave Austin hybrid English rose has the cupped, quartered, multi-petaled look of the Bourbons (80 petals or more), and the fragrance to go with it. It is a shrub rose with dark green ovoid leaves that sports bunches of raspberry colored flowers all summer long. A little drawback – the flowers don’t last very long, so enjoy them while they are in bloom.
Next time you harvest your vegetables, pick up fruit from your trees or collect seeds for next year’s planting don’t forget to thank your diligent worker bees. Since 80% of the pollination is done by insects, welcome them in your garden and make sure they feel comfortable. Please, please, please don’t use insecticides, since they have catastrophic effects on bee communities. Plant flowers rich in nectar to entice flying insects – good examples are honeysuckle, garden phlox, marigolds, geraniums, roses, holyhocks (see photo), dahlias, sedums, roses, beebalm, raspberries, and mint.
If you want butterflies to come to your garden make sure you have butterfly bush (there is a reason it was given that name). If you want the butterflies to stay in your garden plant fennel and dill to provide them with a home (butterflies lay eggs on the seed heads of these herbs).
Just in case you haven’t seen it up close, here is a picture of how insects help with cross-pollination. Yeap, that’s actually pollen.
Bees are essential if you have fruit trees, since with a few exceptions they depend on cross pollination (mostly done by flying insects) to bear fruit. Some trees, like sour cherries and the “Conference” pear tree variety, are self-fertile. Most apple trees are not: they need pollen from a different apple tree, or even a different variety of apple tree to bear fruit.
Also, keep in mind that for plants that have male and female flowers on different plants, such as holly, melons, cucumbers, and squash, for instance, the bees are essential for pollination. If you have only one holly plant in your garden, of if you have two plants that are both male or female, you will never see the familiar berries, which are produced by the female plant. As a rule of thumb, one male holly for four female hollies is a good proportion, and they need to be in close proximity (less than 30 feet).
Some plants, such as tomatoes and peppers, are self pollinating, but they still benefit from the assistance of bees in cross pollination.
All in all, please remember that a lush, thriving, fertile and abundant garden is all-a-buzz. If bees and butterflies come to your garden, pat yourself on the back. You will see a bountiful harvest in the fall.