I’ve been gardening for a long time; first helping Mom pull weeds and harvest veggies or picking flowers (my personal favorite) as a wee dragnet, then growing my own things in the garden from start to finish.
Every year, I try to grow some new things and this year (2022) is no exception. This blog will focus on new flower types I’ve never tried before. This will be the ‘start blog’; basically telling you why I wanted to try something, what variety(ies) I chose and how well they are doing so far (late April). Later this year, I will post a blog of how each variety performed and…dundundun, if I’ll be growing again next year.
Flower #1: Poppies. Okay, this isn’t actually my first attempt at growing poppies. I have tried several times before and failed every time. This year, I tried winter sowing the seeds, aka I threw some seeds onto a bare area in my garden and let the winter rains and snow push the seeds into the soil. Lo and behold, I see some seedlings! Cross your fingers that this works.
The varieties I sowed are ‘Amazing Grey’ and Lauren’s Grape. Both are beautiful and I’m hoping at least one of each variety survives, flowers and goes to seed for next year. I love self-sowing flowers! Well, some of them; morning glories kind of annoy me.
Why do I want to grow poppies? For starters, they’re pretty and look amazing amongst other wildflowers (in other peoples’ gardens). Secondly, they produce a lot of pollen for bees and other pollinators. If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you probably know that I’m a beekeeper and I’m trying to grow more bee-friendly plants.
Flower #2: Stock. The variety I chose is called ‘Dwarf Sissi’ because they only grow 12” high. Stocks are supposed to be frost resistant and have a delicious clove scent and it’s another pollinator flower. They can also be cut and brought inside for a flower arrangement. I hope they smell as good as they’re supposed to! I haven’t planted them outside yet because, well, I forgot that they are cool weather plants. If summer arrives early and the plants wither (stocks are a type of brassica, like broccoli, cabbage, etc.) and don’t do well during the high heat of summer. I’ll try to grow some for the Fall if the spring planting fails.
Flower #3: Ageratum or Floss Flower. I have seen these at garden centers, but never really glommed onto the idea of growing any…until this year. First, it’s a good pollinator flower (you should be seeing a trend here) and it makes a good filler flower in the garden. They don’t get too tall and make good edging plants. Mostly though, my favorite color is blue and ageratum is one of the few actual blue flowers available. The seed packet I purchased is a mix, so there may be white and pink ones too.
Flower #4: Sweet Alyssum. This is another filler plant; one of those you can tuck into a bare spot. It is a low grower and can act as a living mulch between other taller plants. It’s good for pollinators and it has a nice smell (I guess that’s why ‘Sweet’ is part of the name), almost like honey. The seeds I have are another mix with predominantly white flowers.
Flower #5: Balsam. Balsam is related to impatiens and is a good pollinator plant. The variety I have is ‘Camellia Flowered Mix’ from Baker Creek. It is a mix of colors and the flowers (I’m guessing) resemble camellias. They can handle sun or shade, semi-wet areas that other plants can’t grow as well in and self-sow readily (possibly a little too readily, but we’ll see). They are an old fashioned flower and I can collect seeds in the Fall to grow next year (if needed).
Flower #6: Nicotiana or Flowering Tobacco. Nicotiana is another old fashioned heirloom type flower that I’ve always admired from afar, but never personally grew. While perusing my seed catalogs last winter, I decided to give these a try and purchased ‘Bronze Queen’ seeds.
The plants will be 2-3 feet high (some varieties can reach 8’!) and have trumpet-like brownish purple flowers that hummingbirds and butterflies love. Plus they allegedly smell really good! They are also open pollinated, which means I can collect the seeds and grow more next year.
Flower #7: Four O’Clocks. I sense a theme in all of my choices; they are all old fashioned (mostly) heirloom types that are good pollinator plants that smell good. Four O’Clocks are another one of these.
They are so named because in the mid to late afternoon, the flowers will open and emit a wonderful scent! They are a tender perennial, which means that they may or may not survive my zone 7A winter. However, they also readily re-seed themselves. They are easy to grow. I can attest to the fact that they are also fast growers. I planted seeds indoors 2 months ago and now the plants are 12-18” tall…and I haven’t even planted them in the garden yet!
So far this year (2022), all of these flowers are doing well. With the exception of the poppies (whose fate is still to be determined), I planted seed for the other 6 flower types indoors and they all germinated and are growing phenomenally! The next hurdle is getting them planted in the garden. I’m hoping that our last cool spell (nights in the 40’s) will pass quickly (rain is forecast for tonight and tomorrow that brings in a cool front). Then begins the whole “will they survive and will I like them enough to grow them next year” quandary.
Stay tuned in 5-6 months for my results and ruling. The pictures on this blog are not mine. I hope to compare and contrast with pics from my garden over the summer, I hope! Cross your fingers!!
Gardeningly yours, Wooly
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