I spend A LOT of time at a nearby native plant nursery. (Let’s just say that they love to see my car pull up! ) it’s not just a great place to buy plants, but it’s also a great place to learn about natives from the experts. The staff are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and remarkably patient with those of us who are learning. I didn’t realize how patient they were until I overheard this exchange.
My flower gardens were at their peak. They had plenty of spring rain to push lush growth and the warmth of consistent sunny days is producing bloom after bloom. My hibiscus blossoms were as big as dinner plates, my bright red pentas the delight of the local hummingbirds and butterflies flocked to my zinnias. It was the fleeting time of year gardeners celebrate.
One of the most exciting things I discovered in my ramblings is that the message to protect our pollinators is not only being heard, but it is also being put into practice. In every town we visited in every one of the five states, gardens filled with native flowers were flourishing. And to top it off, bumblebees were slowly perusing the blossom buffets in four of the five states. (Unfortunately, one of our stops was Wyoming where bumblebees have already disappeared. I was encouraged though, to see that an effort is being made to draw them back; the Wyoming gardens were filled with bumblebee delicacies.)
In all of the research I have been doing over the last few weeks, I keep coming back to the same conclusion: the key to a successful urban cutting garden is thoughtful planning before planting. I know that in most cases we talk about careful planning, but for this project the decisions we make before we begin, guide how we proceed.
One of my guilty pleasures has been to keep a bouquet of fresh flowers on my dining room table. Every week I would poke through the grocery store’s display racks until I found the perfect choice —. Colorful, fragrant, full of unusual blooms and BIG. Always big. I'd head home and arrange them in an antique vase my mother gave me years ago. I loved those floral displays gracing my dining table; like I said, they were an extravagant, guilty pleasure. Then, I read an article about the environmental costs associated with my beloved bouquets. I was heartbroken, but after studying the issue, I knew that I had to break the grocery store bouquet habit.
When we were first married, my husband would either send or bring me a beautiful bouquet of long stemmed red roses for Valentine’s Day. As much as I loved them, I always felt just a little guilty to have them. We didn’t have a whole lot of money back then,the flowers were expensive and I knew that they wouldn’t last long. Throughout the years, his gifts changed from roses to cards and chocolate. I love chocolate, but this year I am strongly hinting that we go back to long stemmed roses. Instead of a bouquet though, I would love to have a rose garden installed right next to our bedroom window. Imagine waking each day to watch dew glistening on the rose petals and drifting off to sleep every night wrapped in the sweet, subtle fragrance of roses. Lovely.
Creating winter planters can seem like a daunting task to those of us who are not design gifted by nature. Luckily, there are some basic principles that can help the most non-creative of us put together a spectacular outdoor display that ushers in the holidays and with just a few minor adjustments now and then can bring cheer to the long winter months.
I took an objective look at my front yard this week and determined it was sadly lacking in fall color. My four yellow mums in pots flanking the doorway just didn’t bring me quite enough joy. (Yes, I admit it – I have been doing a Marie Kondo purge) What I really want are huge bursts of riotous color and texture before a long Midwestern winter with its ice, snow and freezing temperatures sets in.