Annual Flowers from Seed (2018)

This year, as I was starting some herbs, I had a few extra peat pellets left, and I figured I would try to start a few annual flowers again. I’ve made a bit of an attempt over the years, and this will be no different. Depending on the money situation, I will likely buy any bedding plants, but these will hopefully add a bit of homegrown colour and interest to the garden.

 

Lavatera – My grandma grew this almost every year without fail. She would have this huge stand of these beautiful pink flowers along the back side (south facing) of her house. And every year she would save seed from them for the next year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2016.

  • ‘Silvercup’Lavatera
  • “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 10cm (4″) flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown”

Cosmos – I grew these along with the veggies back when we had the greenhouse garden to use (before we realized JUST how bat-*&$% crazy the owners of the property were). The beneficial bugs loved them, and so did I, so I figured it was worth a shot again in my backyard this year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Early Sensation Mix’Cosmos
  • “So easy to grow they seem to thrive on neglect! Daisy-like 9cm (3 1/2″) blooms in crimson, rose, pink and white are enhanced by yellow centers, held high on graceful fern-like foliage. Exceptionally beautiful in beds, borders and background planting.”

Asters – These are new to me. I got them many years ago with the intent of growing them, but the seed packet sat there unopened until now.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Powder Puffs’ Aster
  • “Tremendous double flowers, 8-10cm (3-4″) in diameter, grow upright on long sturdy stems. Lovely bouquet-type habit makes it an excellent cut flower. Resists wilt. By picking off faded blooms, you will prolong the flowering season.”

I sowed these (4 of Lavatera, 4 of Cosmos, and 3 of Asters) on April 8, 2018. There may be more if this snow keeps up and I need a small bit of hope of  the summer to come.

Update before I make this post live (April 26):

  • The Aster’s still haven’t germinated. So I think the seeds were too old
  • The majority of the Cosmos have germinated and are currently working on their first true leaves.
  • The Lavatera had spotty germination. One is doing well, a few more germinated but didn’t manage to break their seed leaves through the hard seed shell. I think I have another packet of seeds that I may try to direct sow, but my lavatera dreams may have to wait until next year.

 

 

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Wildflower “Butterfly Garden” Mix

In my quest to grow more flowers last year, I picked up a wildflower mix. It is a “Butterfly mix”. A few years ago I think I picked up a Bee-garden mix, and was looking for it again, but could not find it. Along with the butterfly mix, there was also a hummingbird garden mix and an old fashioned garden mix. However, I didn’t get around to sowing the packet. I got distracted by tomatoes.

The seed packet description reads: “The butterfly mixture contains a blend of delightfully fragrant and colorful flowers that attract nearby Butterflies while adding beauty to your garden.”

I thought it would be a good idea to de-code the “contents” names that are only in the latin/botanical name.

  • Alyssum maritimum: Sweet Alyssum or Sweet Allison. This is one I’m not particularly familar with. It is a member of the brassica family though, and native to the Meditarinian. Annual
  • Calendula officinalis: Calendula, or Pot Marigold. This is a self-seeding annual or a short-lived perennial. 
  • Centaurea cyanus: Bachelor’s Button or Cornflower. Annual
  • Cheiranthus allionii: Siberian Wallflower. Biennial
  • Coreopsis tinctoria: Golden Tickseed or Plains Coreopsis. Annual
  • Cynoglossum amabile: Chinese Forget-Me-Not. Annual
  • Delphinium consolida: Field Larkspur (Until I did some googling, I just expected this one to be regular perennial Delphinium, but according to the internet, it is an annual wildflower variety. Annual  (NOTE…. Do not eat or allow any animals to eat. Very Poisonous)
  • Dianthus barbatus: Sweet William. Biennial 
  • Echinacea purpurea: Purple Coneflower, Purple Echinacea. Annual
  • Eschscholzia californica: California Poppy. Perennial in warm areas, Annual in colder areas.
  • Gypsophila elegans: Baby’s Breath. Annual
  • Leucanthemum x superbum: Shasta Daisy. Perennial
  • Linum grandiflorum rubum: Scarlet Flax or Red Flax. Annual
  • Linum perenne: Blue Flax or Perennial Flax. Perennial
  • Rudbeckia hirta: Black Eyed Susan. Biennial (Some warmer areas- Perennial, some colder areas-Annual)
  • Silene armeria: Sweet William Catch-fly. Perennial in Zone 5-8, so probably Annual here.

Last year, I also received in the mail the Honey Nut Cheerios “Bring Back the Bees” Wildflower seed mix, And a pack of wildflower seeds from Bees Matter. And just like the pack above, I did not get around to sowing them. I like that the Bees Matter pack included the varieties they included in the pack. I will hopefully get these sown this year as well.

While I appreciate Honey Bees, they are not native here. If they want to come check out my flowers that is awesome, but I am growing them more for ANY pollinators that want to visit, and not just Honey Bees.


 

This is some of the seeds in the “Butterfly garden” Mix

Summer Bulbs

Despite my late start to gardening this year, I am not lacking any enthusiasm. The ultra cold spring we are having (As I am starting the writing of this post, we have a snowfall warning of 10-15cm of snow) is really helping the dream of summer… and the hope that mother nature will make up for this terrible spring with a beautiful summer and long, warm fall.

As I have been picking up gardening bits here and there, I’ve been splurging on some bulbs for some hopeful color in the garden this year. As I am buying them, I’ll add them here and post once there is a handful for you to read about. Any tips for success with any of these, OR others I should try to find for my garden, please leave a comment.

First up, – Gladiolus  I never remember to pull my bulbs at the end of the summer. Maybe this year will be the year. But the tall spikes of beautiful flowers always remind me of my grandma, and my great grandma, and I try to grow some every year, (but their success varies from year to year).  This year, I just bought a mixed pack of 10 for $3.50, at Superstore. If I get some time to care more for them this year, then I may splurge on some fancier bulbs in the future that have names and known colour.

‘Blue Poppy’ Anemone De Caen  – These were too beautiful to pass up, and I can hardly wait to see them in person. I’ve never grown them before, so any tips and tricks you can share in the comments would be very welcome. These are from a local garden centre (Blue Grass Nursery), and I think I paid $3.99

‘Bouton de Rose’ -Novelty Begonia – I’ve never grown begonias before either, but I always fall in love with them in the garden centres. So I figured this year was the year to finally try them. I’ve been on the hunt for part-shade plants for the front yard that only receives morning sunlight. Like the above Anemone, this is also from a local garden centre (Blue Grass Nursery), and I think I paid $3.99 for the bulb.

Pink Calla Lily  – I grabbed this at Lowes when I was grabbing some Seed-Starting mix that was on sale there. I grew some Calla Lilies on a whim when I was still living at home, and they were so beautiful. I’m not sure why its taken me so long to try them again.

Mid April 2018- Quick Garden Tour

I wanted to pop in a quick little tour of the garden as it is mostly covered in snow. It will be nice to look back at this in the summer when everything is growing and enjoying the sunshine. These photos are from April 11, around 6pm.

 

Willow Trees behind our house. These are typically the first to have leaves. Nothing yet.
Poplar (and Spruce) in our front yard. No leaves yet, but this thing will be dropping its horrible sticky bits all over our vehicles very soon.
Crab Apple
Raspberries are still under snow
My poppies are starting to “Spring” too! I hope I get some flowers from these this year!
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This is where my tomatoes were (and their corpses are still) last year. Still at least a foot of snow. Old tools and bits of wood to help discourage the dogs from going in the garden bed over winter.
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My ‘Iceberg’ Rose. My delphiniums are also here, and in the back you can also see my Sweet Williams poking out of the snow. This snow bank is beside the shed, and a few weeks ago, the snowbank was almost to the edge of the shed shingles. That tipped over vase i filled with leaves, grasses and pine cones and tucked it there for some lady bugs or other beneficials to over-winter in.
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flooded pots, bricks thrown on the garden bed, and sawdust from button making chucked ontop of the snow to mix into the soil when possible.
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This is the sunniest spot in the garden, and is currently flooded. A few more days of sun and it should dry right up. I think that I will be putting my eggplants in some pots here, but that may change a few times before it comes to the time of things going into their homes for the summer.

Herbs (From Seed) 2018

April 8th. We had another bout of snow. It is getting really old at this point. I really hope that Mother Nature has a beautiful Summer and long warm fall in store for us this year.

With the snow outside, I was in the mood to sow some more seeds. So this time around, is Herbs.

A few years ago, I made my own “Italian Seasoning” and it was one of my favourite things that I did that  year. Herbs kind of take care of themselves once they are in a spot they like, so they can be a great beginner project. Additionally, there are quite a few that can be perennial so you don’t need to start fresh every single year. Last year, a bunch of my herbs all survived the winter (which was pretty mild – unlike this year), and I’m hoping they survive again.

I’m going to type out each description from the seed packets, Same as I have done for most seed sowing I’ve done this year.

  • Stevia
    • West Coast Seeds (2018)
    • “This amazing plant’s leaves have extracts said to be 200 times sweeter than sugar. The plant, which does well in the border or in containers, grows to 60 cm (24″) tall with clusters of tiny, but attractive white flowers emerging from every stem”
    • I tried growing Stevia from seed last year (or the year before) and they just fizzled out before it was even warm enough to go outside. I’m hoping this year will be better.
  • Catnip
    • McKenzie Seeds (2018)
    • “Cats love the minty aroma. Dry leaves can be used in cat toys or sprinkled sparingly on cat food. Prefers well drained soil. Harvest flowers before seeds set and dry in a dark, well ventilated place. Can also be grown indoors. Perennial. Zone 3”
    • If you want to grow cat nip too, I recommend having a strong cover on it to protect it from all the neighbourhood cats (or your own cat). The last 2 years, the catnip I had was growing well, and then was ravaged and killed early because of all the cat activity.
  • Lemon Balm
    • McKenzie Seeds (2015)
    • “Bushy perennial plant with light green leaves that has a lemon scent and lemon-mint flavored leaves. Use with soups, meats, fish, sauces and salads. Transplants well. Harvest leaves anytime. For drying, harvest leaves in the early morning. Dry quickly to retain flavour. Heirloom. Perennial. Zone 4.”
    • Lemon Balm is one of my favourites to grow, just to pinch the leaves and smell them. I don’t particularly love tea, but just the scent of this plant fills me with so much joy.
  • Oregano (‘Origanum vulgare hirtum’)
    • Burpee Seeds (2014)
    • “Use as a spicy flavouring in tomato sauces, egg and cheese dishes, vegetable stews, meat and chicken dishes and pizza. Annual”
    • I only sowed one peat pellet of the Oregano, but I figured that I can just buy a quick plant in the spring to supplement my herb garden if this one doesn’t take off.
  • Sweet Marjoram (‘Origanum marjorana’)
    • Burpee Seeds (2014)
    • “Leaves add flavour, fresh or dry to soups, dressings, beans and meat dishes. Annual”
  • Thyme
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “Ideal for flavouring meats, fish, stuffing, stews and soups. Sow indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Transplant to a well-drained area in the garden. Ready to harvest in 85 days”
    • The Thyme I started in 2016, survived winter and I enjoyed using it fresh all summer. I started one peat pellet of this as a back-up in-case the Survivor-Thyme doesn’t make it through this much harsher winter.
  • Summer Savory
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “The leaves have a sharp, peppery thyme flavor that is well suited for bean dishes, meat pies, poultry dressings, salads, soups and caseroles. Prefers well drained soil. Keep moist. Pack soil around stem to prevent plants from falling. Pick leaves anytime after plant is established. For drying, cut off entire plant just before flowering and hang to dry. Annual”
    • My Summer Savory also survived winter last year, despite it saying that it is an annual. I don’t expect it to survive again this year, and finding this herb as a plant can be hit or miss. I’ve found it at the walmart garden centre one year, and then never again.
  • ‘Cinnamon’ Basil
    • McKenzie Seeds (2015)
    • “A native to Mexico, the leaves have a spicy cinnamon flavor; flowers are deep pink with purple bracts. Add to hot beverages for added taste. Start seeds at anytime for indoor use. Plants require an organically rich, well drained soil. Expect your first harvest 5-6 weeks after sowing. Sensitive to frost. Annual”
    • While I have a collection of a few different varieties of basil, I picked this one out of the bunch, for the same reason as the Lemon Balm… Just to sniff the leaves. It also has beautiful little flowers that the bees loved the year that I grew this before.
  • ‘Champion Moss Curled’ Parsley
    • McKenzie Seeds (2014)
    • “Dense fine foliage, closely curled, very dark green. Excellent for flavouring soups, salads, stews or as a garnish and very good for freezing. Hasten germination by soaking seeds for 24 hours in luke-warm water. Biennial. Prefers partial shade.”
    • Parsley is one of my favourite herbs to grow and then dry for use in the Kitchen. It stays a beautiful green through the drying and keeps wonderfully.
  • ‘Plain Leaved’ Parsley
    • Mr. Fothergills’s Seeds (2013)
    • “Flat leaves superior in flavour. Cold hardy. Use in salads, soups, on fish and poultry.”
    • Like I said above, Parsley is a favourite. And this flat leaf type does dry for kitchen use much better than the curled type, but I do like having both types in the garden.

I will also be growing Dill and if I can find a plant, some Chocolate Mint.