Fairy gardens need these Fairy Flowers

fairy garden flower fairyEvery fairy garden needs a few fairies flitting around to make sure all is growing well.

The best fairy garden fairies — the ones who make a gardener’s wishes come true — are those made from the garden’s own flowers, like hollyhocks.

It takes just a few minutes to transform an ordinary hollyhock blossom and bud into a fairy flower all dressed up in a ballgown and ready to dance around the garden.

Fairies made from hollyhocks are a bit elusive because of the plant’s biennial nature; they have a two-year growth cycle. The first year they develop deep roots and a rosette of leaves and the next year they send up a flower stalk. That’s the perfect time to get your hands on one of these flower fairies.


hollyhock flower








Miniature Roses for Patios and Small Gardens

The samples of miniature roses from Greenheart Farms in Arroyo Grande, Calif., are as beautiful as they are easy to grow.

Every spring for the last several years I’ve received a big box of miniature roses from the generous folks at Greenheart Farms in California.

It’s always a treat to open the box and see rows of small roses just waiting to be planted in my small-space flower beds and patio pots.

The roses are hardy to Zone 5 because they’re all grown on their own roots, instead of being grafted.

This year I received roses from Greenheart’s Veranda Collection that included Brilliant Veranda, Lavender Veranda and a red-coral rose called Chica Veranda.

The roses in this collection are compact floribunda roses that have offered a nice long season of flowers.

Roses from Greenheart4

Of the Veranda Collection, the Lavender Veranda miniature rose is my favorite. The color isn’t typical of miniature roses and it looks especially nice against its glossy green foliage.

Midsummer Report on Harris Seeds Trials

I’m pleased that Harris Seeds invited me to be part of another Home Garden Trials this season.

Harris Seeds of Rochester, New York, invited members of the Garden Writers Association to once again test flower and vegetable varieties in our home gardens this season.

I’m one of 100 GWA members who selected varieties for planting so we can provide feedback to the company. If the testing works as well as last year, gardeners across the country will see the best selections in the Harris Seed catalog next year.

In addition to the flowers, I’m also testing two kinds of peppers, a new variety of squash, a 2014 All-America Selections winning bean and a side-by-side trial of grafted and nongrafted tomatoes.

Here’s a midsummer’s peek at what’s doing well in my garden:

2013 Harris Trials3

New Gardening Seeds and Things for 2013

If it’s January, it’s time for the new seed catalogs to come rolling in.

Once the rush of holiday shopping is over and the retail catalogs slow to a trickle, it’s time for the seed catalogs to take over.

As a gardener, it has to be one of my favorite times of the year because each catalog holds the promise of warm spring days and bountiful summer harvests.

So many seeds, sow little time.

There are hundreds of new annuals, perennials, fruits and vegetables just waiting to be be purchased and planted.

I’ve taken a look at what’s in store for the 2013 gardening season and I’m amazed at what I’ve seen. There are more interesting choices for gardeners than ever before:

New sunflowers that will knock your socks off.
Sweet corn for container growing.
Gorgeous pink-and-rose colored petunias with 3″ blooms.
Personal sized melons.
Two-pound tomatoes bred for making sauce.
Cantaloupe-colored echinacea.
Broccoli that looks like long stalks of asparagus.
Grafted tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

Win a Beginners Guide to Gardening

Are you a new gardener–or know someone who is? Here’s your chance to win a copy of the new book called “Beginner’s Illustrated Guide to Gardening” by Katie Elzer-Peters.

Have you ever wanted to learn how to read a fertilizer label, fix a problem in the lawn, plant a perennial or prune a tree? Are you new to the wonderful world of gardening and have lots of questions?

Then you need this new gardening guide.

“Beginner’s Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Techniques to Help You Get Started” offers how-to tips for dozens of gardening tasks. This is a great book for anyone who is just starting out and has questions about what to do in the landscape and how to to do.

Katie Elzer-Peters wrote this book to help any gardener who has gardening questions, especially first-time homeowners.

Cool Springs Press sent me an extra copy of Katie’s book to give away to someone who could use a comprehensive gardening guide.

Picture Perfect Peppers and Canna Lilies

Each spring, the experts with Denver Parks and Recreation tend this raised planter in my neighborhood park. However, this is the first year for such an interesting combination of plants. Mixing yellow and red Canna lilies with ornamental peppers is a brilliant idea.

Right now the peppers are ripening and turning the same shades of yellow and red as the Canna flowers. Not only is it a great combination, but it shows how the gardening pros plan ahead so bloom times coincide. I wish I could I could that!

I’m going to keep this idea in mind for my garden next season. Using ornamental peppers with flowering plants is a beautiful approach for adding a blast of color to any dull spot in the garden.

What ideas do you have for using something like this in your landscape? Please share them here!

Fireworks are like Garden Flowers in the Sky

Chrysanthemums or daisies? I’ll leave it up to you to decide which flowers these fabulous Fourth of July fireworks most resemble. John Pendleton took these images at the annual holiday celebration¬† in our neighborhood last night.

My first thought when I saw these beautiful images was how much the fireworks look like the explosion of flowers going on in my garden right now.

Gardening with Celebration in Pink Cosmos

Please help support the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fundraising efforts by planting ‘Celebration in Pink’ cosmos this spring.

It’s time to place your order for ‘Celebration in Pink’ cosmos from Botanical Interests. The Broomfield, Colo., seed company is supporting The Susan G. Komen for the Cure efforts to fight breast cancer with each packet of cosmos sold between now and June 30.

‘Celebration in Pink’ is an annual heirloom flower that will bloom summer into fall. Its cheery assortment of pink and white flowers on tall stems will brighten any garden and serve as a celebration of hope.

“We want to help support this important cause,” says Botanical Interests co-owner Judy Seaborn.

“Breast cancer affects so many people, including many of our customers. We hope to inspire people to realize that one small purchase or action can truly make a difference.”

Botanical Interests will donate $1 for each packet sold, with a total donation of at least $15,000.

Gardeners are crime-fighting superheros

Something as simple as planting flowers can be a powerful tool in crime prevention.

container-of-petunias-blogI recently read an article on how a group of concerned citizens got growing to reduce the number of burglaries in their Tokyo neighborhood.

When the number of break-ins in one area reached nearly 2000, it was time to put “Operation Flower” into action.

Operation Flower grew from one neighborhood watch group that discovered there were fewer problems in buildings with flowers planted outside. It seems with more people planting and maintaining flowers, there were more people keeping an eye on the neighborhood.

Volunteers are asked to plant seeds along the side streets and in front of their homes and then to tend them. As gardeners looked after their flowers, they were also able to lookout for any potential trouble.

These crime prevention efforts paid off for the neighborhood and its residents. The number of burglaries dropped 80 percent.

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