A half century birthday calls for a serious bouquet – and notice the handle wrapped in a hosta leaf.  Except for the peonies which were chilling in the fridge, here’s what’s I picked for the birthday bouquet – yellow foxglove, foxtail lily, bellflowers, yarrow, heliopsis, and hosta.    My talented sister Deb arranged them; she first arranged them in a plastic florist bucket which we then set  inside the metal bucket.

Happy 50th Shelly!

It’s a mystery.   For years I’ve tried to grow this clustered bell flower for cutting, and regardless of where I moved it or what care I showered upon it, as far as a cut flower – it was a failure for me.  Then a few summers ago as I was strolling through a friends garden, I halted in amazement as I stood before an enormous bunch of purple clustered bell flowers.  The funny thing was, she didn’t even know what they were, just ‘some plant’ she got as a gift from her kids.  I begged a few starts from her, and this summer they are just as stunning in my own cut flower gardens.  A few years ago I wouldn’t have recommended this plant, but as the photos show, you can grow some stunning clustered bell flower for cutting – some as large as the palm of your hand!

Growing information:

Hardiness – zone 3 – 8

Height – 20 inches

Bloom time – early summer

Light requirements – Full sun to part sun

Fresh bouquet ~ 6-28-10

June 29, 2010

Delphinium, white phlox, asiatic lily, drumstick allium, baptisia pods, pink bachelor button, peony and hosta.

To market, to market

May 28, 2010

What’s blooming today and heading for market?  Lupine, peonies, false queen anne’s lace, sweet william, goats beard, coral bells, buplureum, and salvia.  Most of these flowers are blooming weeks ahead of schedule because of an unseasonably warm weather pattern that we’ve been experiencing.

I picked these flowers late in the evening and let them condition in a bucket of water overnight.  Then early the next morning I made them into bouquets and put sleeves around each one for protection and a nice appearance.   Then off to market to find a new home.

What’s blooming in your gardens today?

I love Pasque flower for being such an early bird bloomer in my gardens.  The colorful star-shaped blooms are opening right with the daffodils, even before the tulips.

And while I love them for heralding in the Spring, I also enjoy them when they are done blooming; it is then that the fuzzy-wuzzy seed heads often find a place in my flower arrangements.  While the flower itself is often too short to use as a cut flower, the stem continues to grow taller as the seed head emerges, making it useful for cutting at that stage.  It is a very low maintenance perennial.

I initially planted both a purple and a red Pasque flower, and now have a violet Pasque flower that I am guessing is a seedling from a cross of the two.  I love surprises like that!

Growing information:

Hardiness – zone 4 – 8

Height – bloom height 8″-10″, seed head height 12″-15″

Bloom time – Early Spring

Light requirements – full sun to mostly sun

Formerly known as Anemone Pulsatilla.

Veronica can be a workhouse in the cut flower garden; it will provide a full second crop of stems if cut down completely to the ground after the first harvest. Veronica is a spiky or linear type flower that provides movement, action, or life to an arrangement, and is long lasting in the vase.  Available in blue, purple, pink, or white, I have found the blue and purple varieties to be the most vigorous and productive growers.

My Veronica Longifolia does require support to prevent flopping and bent stems; a simple light-weight wire tomato cage is adequate.  I also grow Veronica Spicata for cut flowers; they are shorter and don’t require any support, but the blooms are smaller and stems are thinner than the Longifolia, and the second crop is often too short to be useful as cut flowers.

In my gardens I have found that Veronica attracts the tarnished plant bug, which causes unsightly damage to the foliage.  The tarnished plant bug can be easily controlled by hand picking or with an insecticidal soap.

Veronica spicata is also an easy perennial to grow in borders and accent gardens.   It is not fussy, and grows in a neat, tidy  clump that doesn’t need frequent dividing, and provides an upright and spiky contrast to mounding and round flowers or plant shapes.  Deadheading of spent blooms will provide subsequent re-bloom throughout the summer for continual color.

Growing information:

Height – from 15″ to 30″, depending on variety

Light requirements – full to partial sun

Bloom time – first bloom in early to mid summer, second bloom in late summer if cut back

Hardiness – zone 3 – 8

Prarie Sun Rudbeckia

January 4, 2010

Rudbeckia hirta flowers are also known as Gloriosa daisies, or Black-Eyed Susans.  This specific variety, Prarie Sun, is an annual where I live, but a biennial in warmer zones.  I start mine from seed, but have seen them offered as starts in nurseries in recent years.  Letting them reseed in the garden is an option also, but note that if you have more than one type of Rudbeckia hirta planted, the seedlings can be a cross.  Easy to grow and low maintenance, the presence of this flower in any bouquet spreads cheer and happiness.

The green center is quite different from other Rudbeckias, and lends it to be a bit more versatile for various styles of arrangements.  The size of the flower varies, but are typically 4 – 6 inches across.

Growing information:

Height – 2 1/2 to 3 feet

Light requirements:  grow in full sun

Bloom time – mid summer through fall

Hardiness –  biennial in zones 5 – 8

blooming cherry brandy 1

This new introduction of annual Rudbeckia that I grew this past summer was well worth the effort.  There was a variation of colors, with most blooms being a dark maroon color, but a few red centers with yellow tipped petals –  a very interesting look!  The seeds were easy to start indoors, and performed well in the garden, despite an extremely dry summer.

Growing information:

Height – 24 inches, blooms 3 – 4 inches across

Grow in full sun

Annual – purchase as starts or start seed indoors; do not cover seed as light aids in germination.  Plant outside after frost free date.

blooming snow on mtn

The variegated green and white of this annual euphorbia make it an interesting cut flower and a wonderful filler.  Once cut, the stems bleed a milky sap that can irritate skin, so gloves should be worn when harvesting.  After cutting, the stems need to be seared; dip the stem ends in a small pot of boiling water for 20-30 seconds, then proceed with conditioning.  Has a long vase life.

Growing information:

Height – 36 to 40 inches

Annual – can be started indoors or direct seeded outdoors.

Harvest about 100 days after planting, foliage variegation occurs when days begin to shorten.

blooming rudbeckia cherokee sunset 1

I love growing these annual colorful Black-Eyed Susans, each bloom can be a little different color and shape, giving me many happy surprises in the garden!  Many varying shades of yellow, gold, orange and red, with single, double, and mum type petals.  Cherokee Sunset rudbeckia are easy to start from seeds indoors, and I usually get some volunteer starts in the garden, too. Terrific as a cut flower!

Growing information:

Prefers full sun

Height:  20 – 24 inches, flowers 3-4 inches across

Bloom time – mid to late summer, depending on when seed is started

blooming rudbeckia cherokee sunset 2