Prepping for Spring!

clematis
Cleaning out planting beds

Today was the first warm (53 degrees), sunny day we’ve had since last October, so my husband and I got busy prepping for spring! It was so nice to feel the sun!

 

We began by cleaning out planting beds–we did this last fall, but we have massive oak trees behind the house and in the yard, so keeping the beds and the yard free of oak leaves is a year round job. We only got two beds done today, but once we did, we could see flowers finally sticking up out of the ground!

Pretty flowers Arriving Soon!

mycrocus2

tulip3
tulips peeking out

The crocus are finally making an appearance. I had about given up all hope for the crocus this year, but here they are! The tulips and hyacinths are also poking their heads out after our long, brutal winter. I’m very much afraid that instead of having a gradation of blooms, everything will bloom all at once; but, better this than no blooms at all! I hope the plants are coming alive in your garden, too!

 

Vegetables

peas
Planting Peas

We also planted our peas today. It is late; normally, we would have done this around March 17, but it’s just been too cold and snowy. I’m hoping for at least one good crop of peas, though! This time, we did add Epsom salts and sugar (1/2 cup each) into the soil instead of other types of fertilizer. As things develop, I’ll let you know what happens with this.

Happy Gardening!

Pink Cotton Candy or Betony

cottoncandyBetony, or Pink Cotton Candy as it is familiarly known, really stands out in a garden.  Pink Cotton Candy boasts fluffy combination pink and dark pink flowers in the summer. The long flower stalks rise up from a bed of deep green foliage.

Pink Cotton Candy is attractive in flower beds or in containers–and a real show stopper wherever it is planted.

How to Grow

The plant is easily divided in the spring, so ask your friends and neighbors. It is relatively new, so you may need to buy it at the nursery.

  • Pick a sunny spot in your garden.
  • Dig a hole a bit larger than the root ball.
  • Mix fertilizer into the soil.
  • Add the plant and cover it with soil.
  • Water.
  • Remove dead flowers to encourage re-blooming.

Pink Cotton Candy is easy to grow and requires little care. The long, bushy flowers make excellent cut flowers for arrangements. Best yet, it is deer resistant while attracting butterflies and bees into the garden. If you see this at a nursery, snap it up quickly! Cotton Candy seeds are selling out quickly.

Happy Gardening!

Moonflowers: A Glorious Evening Bloomer

moonflowerMoonflowers are a night blooming plant with gorgeous white flowers. The white stands out at night and is quite attractive in your yard. The blooms will also provide a pleasant fragrance, so Moonflowers should be grown somewhere you can enjoy them in the evening.

Unfortunately, Moonflowers are only an annual in zone 5, but they are easy to grow from seeds, which I did last year and will do again this year. I really fell in love with this plant!

Moonflowers are a climbing vine, so I planted mine next to the lattice work on my deck. It grew up and over the lattice–so it does grow quite high when allowed to climb.

How to Grow

I have never seen Moonflowers at the local greenhouses, so you will have to grow these from seeds–either outdoors after all chances of frost have passed or start indoors and then move outside. I start mine indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last frost.

  • The night before you plant your seeds, soak them in water over night to help them germinate.
  • Mix fertilizer into the soil and add one seed per planting container for beginning indoors.
  • Water them in well, and cover with a plastic lid or plastic wrap. Make sure they do not dry out!
  • Remember, they are a vine, so as they grow, you will need to move to a slightly larger container and add in a small trellis of some type before moving outdoors.

When you move the small plants outdoors, pick a sunny spot in your garden–despite being a night bloomer, Moonflowers love the sun!

Moonflowers require very little attention after they are planted–they are drought resistant. They will reward your efforts with magical white blooms throughout the summer!

Happy Gardening!

 

 

Bee Balm

beebalmBee Balm, or Monarda, is an old perennial species in the mint family. The herb is an old species, appearing in a book in 1574! Bee Balm is commonly known as a wild flower on the prairie, and it does produce fantastic blooms.

In the language of flowers, Bee Balm is related to compassion; and, given its medicinal properties, the plant’s personified characteristic is quite apt. Bee Balm is used to ease all kinds of digestive complaints, cramping, sore throats, and a host of other ailments. It is known for its  strong antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Usually, it is made into a tea for these purposes.

How to Grow

Pick a sunny spot in your garden either in the fall or the spring.

  • Dig a hole a bit larger than the root ball.
  • Mix in fertilizer.
  • Add the plant into the hole, and cover it with soil.
  • Water.

You may start your Bee Balm from seeds–follow the usual methods for growing seeds indoors and move into the garden as soon as all danger of frost has passed. Or you may purchase a small plant at a local nursery and plant it directly outside.

Either way, Bee Balm will produce gorgeous flowers in your garden, and it comes in a variety of colors. It attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds; and bonus: it is deer resistant. It grows well with several different plants, such as cone flowers.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

Cat Whiskers: Just for the Beauty of it!

catwhiskersCat Whiskers are a member of the mint family, and are not a perennial in zone 5–although they are considered a perennial in warmer climates. However, they are beautiful flowers that can be taken indoors over the winter.

I’m excited about this bushy plant with the beautiful flowers! The flowers come in purple or white.  I ordered my seeds a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to watching them grow.

The plant does have medicinal uses for treating urinary diseases and diabetes, but for me, it’s all about the beauty.

How to Grow

If you are starting with seeds, begin as you would with other seeds. Soak the seeds overnight to help them germinate. Plant in a container and cover with a plastic lid or plastic wrap. When all chance of frost has passed, plant in the yard.

  • Choose a sunny or partially sunny spot in your garden.
  • Dig a hole a bit bigger than the root ball.
  • Mix in fertilizer.
  • Gently place the plant into the hole and cover with soil.
  • Water the plant in well, and be sure to water several times a week.
  • After the blooms fade, remove them to encourage further blooming.

Cat Whiskers make excellent cut flowers and will attract birds, bees, and butterflies to your garden. They are a striking addition to any garden. I’m hoping mine will spread, as it is a member of the mint family…..

Happy Gardening!

The Butterfly Bush: Not Just a Weed

butterflyThe butterfly bush, buddleja davidii,  is a flowering shrub that will fill your garden with a wonderful scent throughout the summer. In my area, it dies back to the ground each winter but returns each summer–it is a vigorous, hardy plant.

It does and will attract butterflies, bees,  and birds to your garden. I have two of these shrubs, and I absolutely love them. The come in a variety of colors– mine are both purple. I would love to have a white and/or a red one as well.

In the language of flowers, the butterfly bush is correlated with transformation and rebirth, which is fitting since it does come back each year from the ground for me. I hear that in the south, these can grow into actual trees! I would love to have that!

How to Grow

  • In the spring or the fall, pick a sunny spot in your garden–the butterfly bush loves the sun.
  • Dig a hole a little wider and deeper than the root ball.
  • Mix a little fertilizer with the soil.
  • Place the plant into the hole, being sure to keep the top of the root ball close to the top of the soil.
  • Add mulch.
  • Water.
  • Once a bloom is finished, cut it off to encourage new blooming.

While some states, such as Washington, classify this shrub as a weed, I simply don’t agree. It is a gorgeous plant that will attract and feed bees, birds, and butterflies throughout the summer.

Happy Gardening!

 

 

An Easy and Tasty Summer Herb: Dill

dillDill is an annual herb, but the plant is super easy to grow! It is quite tasty in dips, soups, and salads, and may be used for pickling.

Dill also has a long history as a medicinal plant. It was once used as a defense against witches and magical enchantments, but more commonly, dill is used for indigestion issues, insomnia, colds, and coughs.

In the language of flowers, dill is associated with lust and might be a healthier alternative to Viagra! 😉 Can you imagine receiving tons of spam emails about dill?

While the plant is capable of making flowers, you really don’t want it to if you are using it to harvest Dill for any reason.

How to Grow

  • Pick a sunny spot in your garden in early summer.
  • Dig a rill about 1/4 inch deep and sow the seeds.
  • Cover the seeds gently with soil–just use a rake for this.
  • Water.
  • For fresh dill all summer long, keep sowing seeds.

Alternatively, you may purchase a dill plant already started at a nursery if you’d rather not mess with the seeds. Either way you go, Dill is a winner. It’s easy to grow; it attracts beneficial bugs to your garden, and tastes great!

Happy gardening!