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
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Flowers for 2016 (so far)

I have decided to put some honest effort into growing more flowers this year. Bees and Butterflies and other friendly bugs should be happy!

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Lupin & Bumble Bee (2015)

Apart from the bedding plants that I usually buy every year, I already have a few trusty perennials in the yard: 2 colours of Delphinium, a deep pink/red Lupin, a purple Lupin that I grew from seed (pretty proud of myself on that one); and a few bulbs I planted that I am waiting to see if they come back this year. There is also some Foxgloves that I bought AND sowed last year, that should come back, and a few lillies that will also hopefully come back….

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Chives (2015)

Also, chives. To me, they live in that grey area between flowers and herbs. Last year I expanded them around the yard to enjoy more of their beautiful flowers and their resilience to our winter. Because, it is always uplifting to see some green poking out from beneath the snow after a long winter. Out front, I have a few Iris rhizomes that I’ve carried around with me most places I have lived long enough to garden. I think I will move some of the smaller ones to the back yard later this Spring.

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I forgot the name of this lily, but I think it is something like ‘Commander in Chief’. Its planted with the Purple Lupin that I sowed my self (2015)

As for the new additions this year, so far, I have sown:

  • Hollyhocks: I’ve grown these the last few years, but they have yet to flower. So I’m adding a few more in this year. I sowed 9 cells of these originally, with 2 seeds per cell on February 21. Only 2 germinated. I waited and waited and waited. So I resowed 4 cells on March 11, and only 1 more germinated. (the other 3 cells were for Sweet William, but we’ll get to them). So after a month of waiting around for Hollyhocks to wake up and germinate, I have 3 little seedlings.
    • Variety: ‘Country Romance Mix’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “Large 8-13cm rose, white, maroon, yellow and pink single flowers are produced on tall stalks from July to September”
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  • Sweet William: As I mentioned above, after some hollyhocks didn’t germinate, I sowed 3 of the 9 cells with Sweet William. Which germinated within a few days!  I sowed these on March 11
    • Variety: ‘Mixed Colors’ (Biennial)
    • Their description says: “Vivid colors and spicy scent make this a garden standout. The blooms are eye-catching bicolors in combinations of red, pink and white. Flower clusters as large as 6” accross. Very pretty and easy to grow. Self-seeds. Brilliant for bedding or borders. Blooms in its second year. Zone 3.”
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  • Malva: After waiting and waiting for the damn Hollyhocks, I plunked some ‘Zebrina’ Malva seeds in. They were up within a handful of days too. Really making me wish I had just sowed these from the beginning. They are a perennial to Zone 5. They may end up being an annual for me in this case, depending on the winter we have. I sowed them on March 11. They are heirloom seeds, so I can save my own seed from them if possible.
    • Variety: ‘Zebrina’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “A magnificent perennial bearing gorgeous 30″ flower spikes filled with 2″ lavender striped blooms. Malva blooms all summer long and combines very well in the perennial border with phlox or bright yellow Yarrow. Zone 5”
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  • Columbine: I was pretty excited when these came up. I’ve grown them before, but I’ve never kept them alive to be able to flower. I always get distracted by vegetables. So this year, hopefully I’ll be able to keep my attention span for these little seedlings. I sowed them on February 21
    • Variety: ‘Long Spurred Mix’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “Strong, sturdy stems are covered with attractive, spurred, nodding two-toned 4” flowers. Intense colors add charm and beauty to your landscape. Easy to care for, free-blooming and heat tolerant. Rich, sandy and well drained soil. Perennial. Zone 3.”
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  • Carnations: I had doubts that these were going to germinate because the seed is a little older, but they popped right up! I sowed them on February 21.
    • Variety: ‘Chabaud Giant Mix’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Beautifully scented 2 1/2″ blossoms, produce a waterfall of brilliant mixed shades of pink, red, white and yellow. Perfect for borders, rock gardens, containers and for cutting.”
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  • Impatiens: Looking for something to put in the front garden bed that is pretty shaded, I found these. Hopefully I can keep them alive to get them out there.  I sowed them March 24
    • Variety: ‘Tropical Fizz Hybrid’ (Annual)
    • Their description says “Brighten up the shady areas of your flower beds with this delightful and vibrant mix of pink, lavender, salmon, red, orange an white. Grows 8-10″ tall”
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  • Lavatera: My grandma always grew these and saved her seed every year. She gave me some, but I’ve misplaced the pack she gave me. So I found an heirloom pack to sow and save my own every year just like she did… as long as I can keep them alive. I sowed them March 24.
    • Variety: ‘Silvercup’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 4” flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown.
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  • Cobaea: I saw these and couldn’t resist. Ideally, they will grow up the south facing wall on the garage with the clematis and maybe Grapes that I want to grow. But, I still need to get the bed created. I sowed them March 24.
    • Variety: ‘Cathedral Bells’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Exotic climber for a sunny wall or terrace. Large bell-shaped flowers turn from bright green to a deep purple. Use against walls, fences and pergolas.”
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Well, that is all I have sown thus far… I still want to sow some Cosmos, Marigolds and Calendula, and a few other annual flowers… possibly some Nasturtiums. But I may just pick some bedding plants up and save my space for the veggies I want to grow.

Also, I mentioned about the clematis I want to grow. I picked up a bag of them (and a bag of strawberries) at Home Depot a few weeks ago, and plunked the 2 plants of ‘Jackamanni’ into some Red Solo Cups. Hopefully this will keep them going until their home is created and it is safe to put them outside.

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Foxgloves (2015)

 

 

 

Making a Bee Waterer


Its cold and windy and snowy and very very wintery outside, so you may be wondering why I am posting about bees in January? (Okay, when I wrote this, it was cold and gross out, but we are currently in the midst of a lovely chinook and it was +7 out today!)

Well, because I have the Spring Fever.

Also, last year I noticed a few drowned bees in a bucket of water I had left laying around. Clearly they were thirsty and ended up drowning. So here we are at dreaming about spring and summer, and thinking of the bees.

Continue reading “Making a Bee Waterer”

Early April Growing Update (2015) {outside}

I just wanted to drop in to share a quick update with you on how everything outside has been growing.

Delphiniums

I moved these a few weeks ago, as the patio will be going where they were growing. The long range forcast was looking very good so I went for it, and was relieved last week when I saw them putting on more growth in their new homes. Their new home is a little less sunny, but I think they will still do good. These plants have survived being in the baking sun, and also being flooded.

Lupin(s)

The seeds I sowed last year, survived (and should flower this year with any luck)! As did a bunch of self-seeded plants from my big Lupin that is a deep red. The seedlings were easily moved. The big plant will hopefully survive. I have read differing views on transplanting established Lupins, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that I left enough of the tap roots that it can thrive in it’s new home.

Rhubarb

I divided this and only left two small crowns in the fall. AND I moved them to a less desirable new home. They won’t get as much sun in their new home, but I wanted their (former) sunny place for more favourable plants (like the Brussels sprouts). Both crowns are starting to sprout! I won’t harvest from them this year, and just let them build up new roots so they should have a great harvest NEXT spring.

Strawberries

My single surviving strawberry plant from last year, sent out a bunch of hidden runners, and they were all healthy plants. So I moved them to their new home once it was ready, and they seem to be liking the new location. In the house, I have some plants  grown from seed, and a few crowns, so they will go out once it is a little warmer outside. At some point, I would like to have an actual strawberry harvest I can do something with, rather than just have a small snack.

Hollyhocks

I sowed hollyhocks last year, not expecting much. Infact, I thought all the grass that took over my flowerbed had choked them out. But this spring, they poked their heads out and I moved them to their new home to take advantage of their Spring growth. They survived their move, and I should have some gorgeous flowers this summer if everything works out. I will also be sowing some more seed later this spring, for next years flowers.

Chives

These are one of my favourites. Their flowers are amazing. The bees thinks so too, so I am looking to spread more Chive clumps around the yard this year. Even if you don’t really like the flavour of chives (like myself), grow them for their flowers. Grow them for their perseverance! They survive (in an unprotected plastic pot!) the crappiest winters, the hottest summers, and even a terrible flood (just Google 2013 in Alberta and you can read all about our flood). Even terrible hail doesn’t take these things out!

 

That is all for now. I’ll put together an update on all the seedlings very soon! And show you the progress of the backyard. I’ve been taking less pictures than I normally would, because my hands are usually covered in dirt and mud.

 

 

March 23/2014 Garden Update (Herbs and Flowers)

Yesterday I updated you on the progress of all the edibles, saving today for Herbs and Flowers.

We go through a lot of “Italian seasoning” around here because of the amount of spaghetti we end up having for dinner on work nights. It’s fast, easy and cheap. And the majority of the ingredients we typically use, we can stock up on and keep in the cupboard. I made it a goal to try and make my own. So this year, I am growing all the “spices” listed in the ingredients. The few I don’t have yet (like Rosemary) I will purchase as already started plants.

Sage and Parsley
(started Feb. 15)
They are doing pretty good. The parsley really reaches for the light, so as soon as I have a warm enough place, they will be moving.

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Oregano, Thyme, Summer Savory, Marjoram
(started: March 9th, March 15, March 15, and March 17)
They are all forming little green carpets of sprouts in their little pots. No true leaves yet, but they are only a week (give or take) old.

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Basil
(started: March 15)
Tiny sprouts. Will start more to go by tomato plants in the next couple weeks. I need to replenish my seed starting supplies.

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Basil on the left
Catnip on the right

Garlic Chives
(started: March 15)
I started these in a peat pot and they have been quite a lot slower than anticipated. BUT I usually place plastic wrap over the edges of pots to help speed germination, and these didn’t get that treatment. They are just barely starting to poke through the surface now.

Spearmint
(started: February 28)
These are like tiny little green carpets on the peat pellet they were started in. They have just got their true leaves, and some are starting on their second set. I will have to pot them up soon.

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Catnip
(started: March 15)
Sprouted within a couple days! I am kind of looking forward to having my own catnip plant… I’m sure Ekki and Hali (my cats) are too.

Lavender
(started: March 5)
These are working on true leaves. When you brush your hand over the little seedlings, they release that relaxing lavender scent already. Sniffing my seedlings could become a problem. I may end up keeping one in a pot in the house just for aroma therapy!
2 years ago I had a beautiful Lavender plant in the yard, but Wilson (my little dog) peed all over it an it died. Hopefully I can keep him away from these ones.

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Lemon Balm
(started: January 1)
I could probably spend a good, solid half hour talking endlessly about Lemon Balm. I love it. I have already been “harvesting” from my little plants, to help encourage them to grow bushy, rather than tall.

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Those are all of my herbs so far. Now onto the flowers:

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Viola and Bee Balm

Columbine (started: March 15)

These are slow to germinate… but I think I see some trying to poke through the surface. I may start some earlier next year.

Hollyhocks (started: March 15)

These jumped up almost immediately. They will be ready to be potted up soon.

Viola (started: February 28)

Slowly working on their true leaves.

Bee Balm (started: March 12)

Sprouted a few days ago. We had these in the flower bed at one house growing up, and I remember just watching all the butterflies on them. Fingers crossed that they will attract the butterflies (and bees, and all the other pollinators) here too. If I can get them to maturity… I failed last year.

That is all that is growing right now. As soon as I have more room (and seed starting supplies) I will start more basil and few other flowers. I have been thinking of adding some chamomile to my herb/flower area, so I may try and find some of those seeds soon.

Here is the link to last week’s Herb and Flower update.