December 28, 2019

Planning for Next Year's Flowers

 I feel like the whirlwind that was December may finally be subsiding, just a bit. I’ve caught up on a few projects that got left in the dust. My hope is that I will have a few moments to breathe in this coming week and I can actually sit down and start planning my flowers for next year.

This is something that is so fun! My dreams usually outpace my skills, unfortunately, so inevitably I face a certain amount of disappointment. I am working on getting my farming skills up to speed so that my optimism will pay off glorious dividends of beauty. 
One of the things I need to do is finish watching my online Flower Farming course. 
I’ve already picked up so many valuable lessons from it—I need to finish it off!

One thing Lisa Mason Ziegler shared in the course—something she really just mentioned in passing—was that for succession planting, she has what she calls her “summer recipe.” So in essence, she plants the same mix of flowers for her cool flower successions, and then has a different mix she does for the warm-weather lovers. I mean, she may plant different colors or substitute one in for another at times, but overall it’s the same. This has inspired me to start thinking about what should be my “recipe” for cool flower planting.

Another point she had—your zone and growing conditions determine how many successions of cool vs. warm flowers that you put in. So where she lives, it gets hot by May, so she really can only fit in 2-3 successions of cool flowers, then she does more like 4 or 5 rounds of the warm. We had a frost in mid-JUNE last year! I had already picked up on the fact the cool flowers should be my mainstays, but this just brought it home even more. I need to be putting in 3-5 rounds of cool flowers (also known as hardy annuals), and may only get 1 round of the hot weather flowers in my garden.

There’s a reason my celosia failed last year, and my zinnias didn’t do much better. They hate the cold! She usually waits even 3 weeks after the last frost date to plant them, just so the nights are warm enough for them as well as the days. If I’m going to do that, it’s going to be the end of June before I get any of those heat-lovers in. See what I mean? With frost coming in mid to late September, there’s not going to be time for multiple plantings of those!

Okay, so all of this is just to say, I want to figure out my own planting recipes, then get to work this spring to put them in! If I could make the space to do 1 row of filler and 1 row of bigger flowers for each round, that would be ideal. Then, maybe by the end of June, the first round of cool flowers would be done, and I could till that under to put in my warm-weather flowers.

Spring fillers that I love include: ammi (Queen Anne’s lace), feverfew, and pennycress. I also want to try buplureum, atriplex, and chocolate Queen Anne’s lace. For my cool flower focals: snapdragons, scabiosa, Black-eyed Susans, Bells of Ireland. I would love to figure out how to grow sweet peas, and get some Icelandic poppies going as well. Of course, I will have all my spring bulbs and landscaping shrubs, etc., to help fill in as well.

If I only get 1 or maybe 2 plantings of warm weather flowers, I want to make them count! Zinnias and sunflowers are definitely on my list, along with cosmos. I would love to figure out how to grow celosia successfully. Their forms are so unique, I think my customers would get a kick out of them.

I started over 70 varieties of seeds last year! This year I want to really narrow that down. Focus on getting really good at growing a handful of varieties that will perform well under my conditions, and then maybe I can branch out some more later on.

However, I haven’t even looked at the seed catalogs yet. That is where the true test of my resolve comes in!! I always want all the pretty things! This is why I need a plan first—preferably written down—so that I’m not sidetracked into unprofitable paths.

Are you getting your 2020 garden all planned out? Do tell!

December 21, 2019

Merry Christmas!

 We are coming into the home stretch on Christmas now! This is the weekend of family parties. My family got together today and we’re going to see my husband’s family tomorrow. Fun times! It has been nice to close enough to get in on these fun events!

In addition, I’ve had several flower orders keeping me busy! Some florists really don’t care for the traditional red, white, and green of Christmas, but I’ve had fun with it this year. I am buying nearly all my flowers from the wholesaler during this season, and it’s great to have a big enough volume of orders to be able to get a nice variety for the arrangements.

Depending on the color of the vessel I’m using, I may switch up the dominant colors in the bouquet.

I loved the Christmas colors on my strawberry pitcher!! It matched so well!

Here’s what I’m loving in my Christmas arrangements this month:


Evergreens—that’s kind of a given, I guess. Pine and cedar with just a bit of the seeded eucalyptus thrown in for some added interest. I ran out of pine this week and still have several orders to fill on Monday. The Christmas tree may be missing a few (lower, unimportant, barely noticeable) branches come Monday morning!

Red pepperberries—I just can’t get enough of these! I bought out the last bunch at the wholesaler, and when I went back a few days later for more, all they had were the pink. Love those too, but now I’m in the red/green phase. The ones they had were so perfect to tie together my arrangements! Each stem had some bright red berries and some immature, green berries—all of them tiny and clustered on the same stems. I have a couple of stems left—I’m going to divvy them up very carefully on Monday.


Hypericum berries—I’ve got some in white that I’ve used, and just bought some smaller, red ones. Love how they look in the arrangement!

White alostromeria—these were so gorgeous! Just big, beautiful healthy blooms. Love them! Also, very long vase life.

Paperwhite daffodils—I grew these inside. Actually, time to start another round of them! I actually even like the green seed pod that is left once the flowers die!


Red Carnations—That bright pop of red, plus their famous longevity. Win-win!

Deep red Ranunculus—I put a stem of this into every arrangement, just to add some depth to the color tones and for their beautiful form—rose-like, but with much better vase life than most roses.

For my centerpiece arrangement, I’m going to add some pinecones as well and possibly some wood slices with the bark still on. Going rustic!

Tonight is the winter solstice—the longest night of the year. So that means starting tomorrow, we’ll be on the upward swing! YAY! I believe in Jesus Christ, who lights my way through darkest, longest nights. So grateful to be celebrating his birth this week!

Merry Christmas!

December 17, 2019

Giver's Gain


A fun Thanksgiving centerpiece I did for one of the BNI group.

Over the past year, I have attended a business networking group that meets here in my town once a week, called BNI—stands for Business Network International. The first time I went as a guest. I was impressed by the camaraderie amongst all the regular attendees, and their friendliness to me.

Since then I have gone several times (8 or 9?) as a substitute for one of the regular members. Every time it has been the same experience: a room full of positive, supportive people, who enjoy being around each other. More than that, people who have built up relationships of trust, such that they feel good about giving each other referrals. That’s the point of it, after all. To help businesses grow. Yes, to make money.

However, the way they go about this goal is different than the norm. Their philosophy is “Givers Gain.” I don’t know how other chapters implement the philosophy in their groups, but the group I have been to really means it. They’re more interested in helping you be successful with your business, than they are in their own. They seem to rest assured that what goes around comes around, and helping you will end up being good for them too, in the long run.

I wanted to join right away, but there were a few things standing in my way. First and foremost—the cost. It’s not cheap to join, and when I first attended, I was just into my 2nd year of business. The cost to join was just a few hundred dollars shy of what I had made my entire first year. Granted, I didn’t make a lot (less than zero when expenses were added in), but I didn’t feel like I could make that leap just yet.

Another obstacle: I hadn’t really decided yet which direction I wanted to take my business in. Would I do weddings? If so, one wedding referral would pay back my membership fee. Was I going to primarily do everyday flowers? That would take a whole lot more to make up the difference. I have spent quite a bit of time over this 2nd year, pondering about those questions and figuring out what I want to focus on, and what direction I will be headed.

It’s also quite a time commitment—weekly meetings, some training, and one-to-ones—which are meetings set up individually with the other business owners in the group. How I would I fit that in to my existing schedule?

A final obstacle has been the uncertainty of our family plans. There is a job change coming in the future for my husband, and we weren’t even sure we would be around next year. I didn’t want to join up, pay the money, only to have to abandon the group halfway through the year.

Well, after talking with husband about it last week (I’ve attended twice this month as a substitute), I’ve decided it’s time to join. The investment still seems big and a little scary. It’s going to be a leap of faith, for sure. But, I also feel ready for this. I’m ready for where this will take me. With my husband’s support I can make the scheduling work.

I’m excited to be part of such a positive, supportive group! I will pick up my application on Thursday and go from there!

December 7, 2019

Flowers in Bloom--Week by Week

This post falls under the “record keeping” category. It’s good to have a record of what I had in bloom each week—partly for evaluating what worked and what didn’t, but also for planning out next year’s flowers. What can I offer each week? When can I expect flowers to cut from the things I plant?

I did quite a bit better this year at taking harvest photos each week. There were a couple I missed, but overall, I did all right. These are not always the best-looking photos. They were not staged at all, for the most part. Just what I had in my buckets. Upping my photo game? Next year’s goal! :)

One thing you may notice: for most of this season, I was doing my main harvest every other week. My big days were every other Friday, because that’s when I had all 3 business subscriptions coming due, with a total of 4 arrangements. I cut other stuff in between for smaller orders, and supplemented some with purchased flowers—both from other local farms and from the wholesaler.

So, want to find out what flowers I had in bloom from one week to the next? Come on, let’s do this!


April 11: A handful of daffodils and 1 short hyacinth.

April 18: Hyacinths growing taller and more colors blooming! Another small handful of daffodils.

April 25: Just daffodils, all sorts. I love the doubles and the pink-cupped ones!

April 29: The first of the tulips, more daffodils, some phlox cut from purchased perennials I was about to plant in my flowerbeds, and some green feathery wildflower leaves. (Okay, okay, they were weeds! They held up very well in my arrangements, thank you very much.)


May 2: Oh, those daffodils! Coming on strong now! Plus a few more tulips.

May 17: Lilacs in their full glory! Plus in bucket #2: flowering plum, ninebark foliage, alliums, pink salvia, and perennial bachelor’s buttons.

May 31: More alliums, perennial bachelor’s buttons, plum foliage, honeysuckle, and a few bright orangey-red geums tucked down in there, as well. 
(The second photo is just a closeup of the geums—same date.)


June 13: We’ve got peonies, folks! Oh, they were gorgeous. Most of these were cut from a friend’s garden. Mine should be ready to begin cutting from next year!! Can’t wait!

June 21: Annual bachelor’s buttons, that did me the favor of reseeding themselves from the year before. Plus, a handful of blue Allium caesium (I planted more of those this fall.)

Also, in the second bucket are catmint, more allium, scabiosa, a late peony, and 2 little roses. That last pic is just a closeup of the scabiosa—they were so big and beautiful in June!


July 2: Mixed bucket here. Let’s see if I can see it all—Bells of Ireland, annual bachelor’s buttons, scabiosa, the pinkish-red one in the back is Jupiter’s Beard. It looks like there may be a rose tucked way down in there as well.

One of these days in early July I had 2 or 3 full buckets cut, including one full bucket of around 40 stems of Bells, but I didn’t get a picture. So add that to your mental list.

July 10: Bells of Ireland, annual bachelor’s buttons, drumstick alliums, scabiosa, the first of the snaps!, first of the lilies, roses.

July 11: Bells of Ireland, annual bachelor’s buttons, snapdragons, feverfew

July 12: Bucket of Bells…and 1 snapdragon!

July 12, #2: spray roses, lilies, scabiosa, drumstick alliums

July 19: Snaps!! (Can you tell I love snapdragons?) Bells of Ireland, dill, one sunflower

July 25 x 2 buckets: (top bucket) Snapdragons, Queen Anne’s lace, dill, weed? foliage

(bottom bucket): Yarrow, Bells of Ireland, bachelor’s buttons, white echinacea, roses, drumstick alliums, sedum, ninebark foliage, poppy seed pods


August 1: sunflowers

August 9: Yarrow, Bells of Ireland, white echinacea, zinnias, roses, Queen Anne’s lace, a couple of snapdragons, and a big weedy flower that I thought I could use and shouldn’t have!

August 16: Hydrangeas, zinnias, yarrow, white echinacea, feverfew, pink statice, pansies, perennial bachelor’s buttons, scabiosa

August 30: Hydrangeas, pink yarrow, scabiosa, zinnias, echinacea, roses, statice, mint, first of the cosmos + cosmos foliage, sedum


September 6: Echinacea, cosmos, roses, zinnias, tansy foliage

September 12 x 2: Zinnias, scabiosa, yarrow, sedum, catmint, Jupiter’s beard, mums, columbine foliage, ‘Milennium’ alliums. 2nd picture: cosmos galore! + a handful of mums, it looks like

September 20: Cosmos, mums, New York asters, pink statice

September 26: Just mums

September 27 (last 2 pictures): Cosmos and more cosmos.


October 4: Hyrangeas and plum foliage

Well, that about wraps it up! Even just going through this exercise made some things become quite obvious to me—improvements to make for next year.

The biggest thing is: I need to get my production levels up! I made it through, but nearly every bucket was a couple stems of this and a handful of that. If I’m going to grow this little flower business of mine, I need to GROW more flowers!

By this time next year, I want to see full buckets of 1 type of flower, consistently!

Seeing as how I put in nearly 800 more bulbs this fall, not to mention several varieties of perennials, I’m on my way. I am taking Flower Farming School online right now, as well, with Lisa Mason Ziegler, and that has been great at giving me the tips and information I need to really make this into a commercial operation. The basics—like figuring out the watering, making beds, keeping weeds out. You’d think I would already have all that mastered, 2 years in, but I still have a lot to learn.

I have to say, though, it was a great year! For the most part, I had all the flowers I needed for my customers this summer. I fully expect it to just keep getting better every year.

November 30, 2019

Flowers in Winter--2 Grow Kits for You

Just checking in from snow valley over here! Since Thursday, we have gotten around 3 feet of snow, with more falling every day! We have been shoveling over and over, and the kids spent 2 glorious days building a 5 foot tall fort, using plastic toy bins as snow brick makers. We did make a trip down to my in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner, but other than that, we have stayed home and enjoyed not having to go anywhere!

Did you get large amounts of snow this weekend as well? Tell me all your stories!

So, I am very happy to report that whilst I have been snowed in, I have taken the opportunity to get some grow kits ready and available for sale! If you’re like me, those cold winter days last so long! I miss the color and change of watching flowers grow! I crave the beauty. Growing flowers inside during the winter helps me do better emotionally and helps fill in that gap a little bit.

If you’re on my email list, you’ve already seen my tips for growing amaryllis. Amaryllis are the great big bulbs from South Africa or Holland, with big, waxy-looking blooms at the top of big thick stems. They are so beautiful! If you missed the email, send me your email address and I’ll get a copy over to you.

I won’t say too much more about amaryllis, then, except that this year’s gift boxes have arrived!! These are the Dutch amaryllis, which should flower 8-12 weeks from the time you pot them up. The colors available are: orange, pink and white (mostly pink with a white stripe down each petal), apple blossom (more white than pink), red, white, picotee (white with a thin red edging on each petal), and one red-and-white striped. I’m so excited to have these!

I’m selling them for $24 each, and each one includes the bulb, a pot, and soil to pot it up with, all inside a beautiful box with instructions printed on one side of it. These make wonderful gifts for clients, employees, coworkers, or family members. Call or text me to reserve your color preference early! There’s only 2 of each color, except for the red-and-white striped—that one only has one. 

I’ve also put together some delightful Paperwhite Daffodil Grow Kits this year! I’m excited about these, because this is such a fun and easy project! These would be great gifts for your tween or teenager, siblings—even neighbors or friends. Even younger children could do this, with some adult supervision and help. Once you get it all set up with the rocks and the bulbs, all that is required is topping off the water as needed. It’s so fun to watch them grow!

Part of what makes these kits special are the rocks. I was able to purchase polished river rocks from JH Rocks, a little business my oldest son has ventured into—selling polished rocks and semi-precious gems. So much love and care have gone into these! So you’re not only supporting my small business, but his as well, by purchasing one of these kits.

Along with the rocks, it includes 3 bulbs wrapped in festive tissue paper, growing instructions, and of course, a vase to put them in. Very affordably priced at $18 each.

You can find these in my online shop on this very website, or call or text me directly: 801-845-8217.

I don’t usually use this blog as a commercial, so thanks for your patience with me on that score! I am just so happy to have these grow kits available! Having flowers growing inside makes such a big difference for me in the winter, as far as my overall happiness goes, that I am excited to have them available to share with you, too.

Now, get out there and make the biggest snowman in all the land!!

November 23, 2019

2 Books to Add to Your Gardening Reference Shelf

 It’s been awhile since I have done a book review on this blog. It’s high time! Two books that I have read lately and found useful would both fall under the “reference” category for gardening (surprise, surprise).

Two of the biggest problems we have faced since starting our little flower farm have been the same that farmers have faced for centuries: pests and weeds. With both of them, though, you can’t know what to do about them until you know what you’ve got. While you may be able to take a good picture of a weed (they don’t move around much, after all), it can be difficult to snap a shot of that little creature scurrying under the nearest leaf.

Unfortunately, it also seemed like the solution to one of the problems only made the other worse. For instance, this summer I thought I would use cardboard in the pathways to keep the weeds down. That worked pretty well, all things considered, but all that cardboard being held against the ground? The earwig population exploded! I hate earwigs, so bad. So yeah—what am I supposed to do about that?!

I have not reached for the RoundUp or the insect killer (yet). I am trying to farm sustainably and with the health of our family in mind—I don’t want any of my kids coming in contact with that stuff!

So, enter these 2 books. Some clarity, some help, and I hope—a better year next year when it comes to bugs and weeds!

Good Bug Bad Bug: Who’s Who, What They Do, and How to Manage Them Organically, by Jessica Walliser

5 stars: Useful information, in an easily accessible format.

So, this one immediately addresses one of the main problems of bug identification: the sheer numbers involved. It can be overwhelming even trying to look up an insect, because where do you even start? She has boiled this down to 41 different common insects: 27 pests and 14 beneficial.

She starts with the pests. Each one has the name, a description, a picture, plus “Spot the Damage” and “Plants they Attack.” She then has a second page for each one that lists “Live Biological Controls,” “Preventative Actions,” and “Organic Product Controls.” There’s also added information at the bottom, as well as another picture—often showing the egg or larvae stage of the insect in question.

In the section covering beneficial insects, it starts out the same, with the name, picture and a description. She then describes their “Life Cycle,” “Pests They Control,” and includes a section on “How to Attract and Keep Them.” Each entry also contains a “More About…” section with interesting facts.

This book has already been useful to me, just thumbing through it. I found out within less than 5 minutes that the white cottony/sticky bugs on my houseplants are mealy bugs, plus what I can do about it (remove them with a Q-tip soaked in alcohol.) It’s got a spiral binding inside a hard cover. I’m planning on taking it out to the garden with me next summer and getting some things figured out!

Weeds and what they tell us, by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer

4 stars: What if weeds were not the enemy?

This a book from the 50’s, but the information was fascinating. Pfeiffer’s perspective on weeds is game-changing. Rather than declaring war on every weed you see, use them as soil indicators. Certain weeds prefer certain soil conditions. This is an idea I first ran across as I have learned more about permaculture. If you have lots of ox-eye daisies, for instance, that’s a warning flag that your soil is increasing in acidity. Fix the soil, your weed problem disappears.

One thing I found interesting is that a good number of plants he lists as weeds in this book are now grown by flower farmers for cutting! Larkspur, chamomile, feverfew, and Dauca carota (wild carrot), just to name a few. Also, he describes which plants bring minerals or vitamins up out of the soil. For instance, he mentions that tansy (which I just planted this fall) concentrates calcium in its leaves. So if you can cut them before they produce seed, they will add many nutrients to your compost pile. I have been so afraid of seeding my entire with garden with weeds, that I haven’t put any weeds into my compost pile. This has given me something to think about along those lines, for sure.

Also, I found out via soil test last spring that my soil has excessive amounts of phosphorus in it. I think he said (though now I can’t find the reference) that orach pulls phosphorus out of the soil. There are several varieties of orach that other flower farmers grow as filler! So guess what is going on my seed list?!

Advice is heavily geared toward tilling, which many people are trying to get away from now. We have still done it, but I think the information in this book can dovetail with a no-till approach. That’s what I would like to move toward. It sounds like, though, whenever you start a new bed—particularly one on weedy ground—tilling at the beginning can really help set back your weed problem. Don’t quote me on that; I need to do more research on permaculture and no-till farming.

I bought this one as an ebook, and to be honest, I’m kind of wishing I had a hard copy to mark up. I know, I know, I can highlight and make notes in an ebook too. I just prefer it on paper. Call me old school—-HEY, maybe that’s why I liked this book so much! Ha!

What have you been reading lately? Anything worth sharing? 

November 16, 2019

More Freebies--Yay!

 Just when I think I’m done planting for the year, I get some more free plants! Lovin’ it!

My friend and neighbor down the street, who has gifted me with plants already, told me she had some rose bushes for me. I was excited! There’s a section along the one side of her house that is going to get cemented in at some point in the next year. She let me come dig up some stuff!

Here’s what I came home with, and where it went:

1 white rose bush—back corner flowerbed

1 mini red rose bush—in back, by the Jupiter’s Beard and the honeysuckle shrub (Actually, I’m not sure if they are mini roses simply because the bush is still so small, or if that’s the size they will stay as it grows)

1 pink and white rose bush—she said it was kind of striped petals. I wonder if it will look kind of like this one in my oval flowerbed, above? So, I put this one in the front fence bed, to replace the David Austin rose that died this year. I’m not really sure it’s going to go with the color scheme out front, but hey—it's a rose that has proven that it can withstand our winters, so that’s got to be worth something.

1 hosta—front flowerbed, in front of the lilac bush

4 large clumps of asters—these I planted in my perennial beds in the garden, starting a new row for “purple/blue” colors. At her house they were nearly as tall as me, before we cut them back for digging, but they were in partial shade there. I’ll bet in full sun they will be shorter.

1 clump that separated into 6 or 7—um…long brown things? I don’t know what they were. She called them coneflowers, but they weren’t like any coneflowers that I’ve ever grown. The seedheads looked like the cone part of the coneflower, on a 4-5’ long stalk. She said that’s what they were—no flowers, just these cone things. Anyway, I thought they might add some interest to my arrangements next year, so I plopped them in behind the greenhouse, between my eremurus that I got planted a couple of weeks ago. I’m hoping I didn’t just plant a pernicious weed of some kind! Ha!

I’m so excited to see these shrubs grow next year, and to have another hosta, some more asters, and some…brown things! She was so generous, and happy that her plants were going to a good home. I was happy to be that good home! Win-win!

Also, I was so proud. I dug them up yesterday and got them planted TODAY, friends! Good job me! They didn’t languish in their pots on my front porch for days and days…or all winter.

Okay, now I think I’m really, truly done. Unless I give in to the sale ads coming into my email inbox right now and order a bunch of tulips for 40% off. It is so tempting! But also, I shouldn’t. Maybe my amaryllis will come in this week and keep me busy getting those potted up, so I don’t have time to purchase any more plants or bulbs. If any one wants to give me some more plants, though—I’m all over that!

At some point, I want to make a large flowerbed just for roses, and another just for peonies, and fill them up with all kinds of beautiful shrubs to cut from. Until then, these go in my flowerbeds, where I know they can stay for awhile, undisturbed.

Are you still throwing things in the ground?

Do you have any beautiful flowering shrubs or plants you no longer want?

[shrug. worth a try.]

November 11, 2019

Garden Weed: Common Mallow


Frosted mallow in the grass. The round, veined leaves are quite distinctive and easy to identify.

This weed has been on my mind this week, as I spent a good portion of the day last Saturday attacking it in my garden. So let’s talk about it a little more, shall we?

It’s a native of Europe, but has now become naturalized throughout the United States. It is edible—my kids like to eat the little round fruits—they’re maybe 1/4” in diameter. They resemble a wheel of cheese, hence the other name for this plant “cheese weed.” You can eat the leaves, flowers, and roots as well, though I have never tried any of those.

It’s related to okra, and can be used to thicken soups and stews. One site says it releases “a thick mucus” when cooked. Boy, doesn’t that sound appetizing! Ha!

There are some herbal uses, but I can’t speak to those. You had better look that up on your own if you plan on using it to cure your ailments.

It is a cool-weather weed, so it will probably be one of the first you see in the spring and last in the fall—like now. We had some very very cold weather a couple of weeks ago, and the plants I was digging out last Saturday were still green and alive. So, kudos to you mallow (I guess.)

Here’s why it’s a garden pest:

It has a long tap root, and tends to hug the ground. Those roots are tough to get out, even in my sandy soil. If you let it grow much bigger than—well, tiny—it’s going to take a shovel to dig it out. Since I don’t tend to weed with shovel in hand, this is one that tends to get neglected, until it has sprawled over 2-3 feet of ground and has become such a nuisance that I’m forced to deal with it. Interestingly enough, it’s scientific name is Malva neglecta. I can see where they came up with that one!

The good news? It is annual or biennial, so all those little sprouts that you pull out or bigger plants that you dig out will truly go away—probably.

It’s supposed to be very nutritious, so I guess I should have been harvesting all those leaves for my salad—assuming we could get past the mucilaginous texture and everything. Hey, I guess it’s another one (like purslane) that makes me feel slightly better about the amount of food produced in my garden this year. It wasn’t very much, but at least I had some nice, healthy stands of mallow growing!

Also, note to self: next year have my kids harvest all the mallow fruits that they can find—nutritious snack (apparently) and fewer mallow next year! I’ll take it!

November 2, 2019

The Advantages of a Clean Slate

To take a break from my website redesign this afternoon, I went outside into the balmy 45 degree weather. I began to put away things that had been left out on the deck most of the summer—my toolbag, my plastic totes for holding weeds. That led me to the greenhouse, where such things will be stored until spring, and THAT reminded me that I still had some cleaning up to do in there, as well.

This year, I primarily used the greenhouse for transplanting seedlings. As it was unheated, I couldn’t do my full propagation in it. I spent some very pleasant hours in there, potting up seedlings into peat pots and getting them ready for bigger and better things. 
The world was rosy (but then, it usually is in the spring.)

Then that late frost came along in mid-June. Many of my seedling-related hopes were dashed, and the seedlings themselves turned dead and black. I was so discouraged. I managed to move the trays full of dead tomatoes and peppers, and assorted flowers, into the greenhouse, but that’s as far as I got. 
There they stayed all summer long.

Now here we are, 4 1/2 months later. The sting has gone out of the failure, for the most part. It was time to clear things out and get ready for a clean start next spring. With the help of my 2 year old, I dumped peat pots full of dirt and dead seedlings into the garden, then ripped up the pots themselves and put them into the compost bin. (She had great fun with the ripping!)

I stacked plastic pots of all sizes, then found more in other trays that needed stacking. I emptied the 2 large cement mixing bins, stolen from my husband’s outside projects, and used for soil recipes. That dirt all went into the garden as well. Trays warped by the sun beyond reclaiming, and various plastic containers I had saved from the recycling bin and used for seed starting went back to the recycling bin.

As I cleared away the evidence of my many failures, my mind began to clear a little bit. I could let go of those disappointments. The neat stacks and empty shelves seem to give a sigh of relief right along with me. Time to move forward. Perhaps next year I will be able to learn from my mistakes without holding on to their remains.

All together it only took me about and hour and a half. Another chore checked off the “Get Ready for Winter” list; a clear workspace, and a clear mind to move forward into next growing season. 

Feels good.

October 28, 2019

This Year's Bulb Roundup

I am happy to report that all of my bulbs are now in the ground! Woohoo! It was right down to the wire this time, too. Saturday was so warm—it got up to 60 degrees F in the afternoon—and I knew that it was probably really truly the last warm day of the year. I wouldn’t mind being wrong in that prediction, but this week we’ve had a cold front come in that has us barely getting up above freezing as a HIGH. So yeah. I knew I had to finish up Saturday.

I still had about 175 bulbs to put in, and as these things go, my children all needed my help with various projects. Finally around 2pm I got out there and started digging! I was hustling, let me tell you! Got it done and went in to make dinner, when I remembered the two euonymous shrubs that I had purchased earlier this month. Back out I went. My dinner plans ended up getting postponed for something easier!

I may end up having to move both of those shrubs in the spring. I put one in at the end of the same little bed the lilac bush was in and the roots were thick as I was digging a hole for it. I don’t know if it’s going to be able to compete there or not. I’m not super happy with the placement of the other one, either—it’s in the shade bed next to the front porch. What’s more, I read the tag as I was putting it in the hole and it said “Full sun.” Say what?! That bed definitely does not get full sun! The other euonymous I have grown have been shade lovers, I’m certain of it. So anyway, so much for doing a rush job. At least they’re tucked into the ground for the winter. If I need to move them next spring, so be it.

Okay, without further ado, here’s the list of bulbs I put in this year—divided into categories:


Those are the allium right there in front (bearded iris behind.)


25—Allium amplectens ‘Graceful Beauty’ (white, small)

10—Allium caesium (blue, about 2” heads)

50— Allium carolinianum ‘Rosy Beauty’ (pink, smaller heads)

100—Allium moly ‘Jeanine’ (yellow)


This is my first time growing camassia, so I don’t have any pictures of it to show you. Next year!

10—Camassia cusickii (sky blue)

10—Camassia leich caer ‘Blue Heaven’ (palest blue)

50—Camassia quamash ‘Blue Melody’ (violet blue)

These were some Dutch irises from my Washington garden. None of the varieties I planted are these exact colors, but the form will be the same. A little different than the large, ruffly bearded irises.


100—Iris ‘Alaska’: bright white, yellow blotches

100—Iris ‘Montecito’: white standards, yellow falls

100—Iris ‘Rosario’: pink

100—Iris ‘Silvery Beauty’: blue/white

100—Iris ‘Telstar’: violet/deep blue

This is not a great picture, but the pink lily in the back is ‘Elodie’, same as what I planted this weekend. It’s a pale pink with a few raspberry-colored freckles.


5—Lily ‘Apricot Fudge’

5—Lily ‘Elodie’

5—Lily ‘Tiger Babies’

5—Lily Henryi ‘Lady Alice’: Reflexed, outward facing blooms (white with orange center)

5—Lily ‘Black Beauty’: Martagon (crimson red)

The grand total: 780 bulbs!

As you can tell, I really went big for Dutch irises and alliums this year. I put in the Dutch iris all along the garden fence, behind the daffodils I planted last year on the one side, then down where I tried to grow sweet peas on the other side. I’m hoping the foliage will help keep weeds down along there as well.

The alliums almost all went into my color-themed perennial beds in the garden proper. The blue ones I actually planted in the front corner flowerbed as a little surprise pop of blue.

Lilies—the red were added to the corner of my red/yellow/white flowerbed in the back corner. The others were planted on either end of the row along the garden fence, so they should all have some fence to support them as they grow. The average height they should grow to is 4’. Some said they could get as tall as 8’!

The camassia I interplanted amongst the poppies. They should bloom first, at the end of May, and again, I hope that their foliage will help keep weeds down and the keep the soil moist for the poppy seedlings until they get big enough on their own.

Planting bulbs always makes me excited for spring! As these are all late spring/early summer bloomers, I have got a long wait to go!

October 21, 2019

A Few Words About Yucca

We just got back from a short trip to Mesa Verde National Park. We got to see the amazing cliff dwellings and other structures built by the Ancient Pueblo people hundreds of years ago. 
It was a great trip! 
The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. 

There was pale yellow rabbit brush, scrub oak in glorious shades of orange and red, various types of wild grasses that had all bleached out to a creamy color, red sandstone, burned out trees in shades of black and gray, and also yucca plants. Yucca looks similar to iris foliage—except the yucca leaves come to a point on the end that is quite sharp—especially once those tips have dried.

Rewind to 15 years ago. The first house we purchased was very small. I almost said “tiny,” but at 750 square feet it was bigger than today’s tiny houses tend to be. Anyway, it had 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. That was about it. This was the first time I had a yard of my own, and I started experimenting with gardening and growing flowers.

One of the first things we noticed was the enormous yucca plant next to the cement walkway from the driveway to the porch. I wanted to plant bulbs there and possibly some pretty shrubs. The yucca had to go. So my husband and I dug it out. It came back. We dug it out some more. Came up again. It turned out that pretty much any piece of root you left in the ground would generate a new plant. We were frustrated. We dug it up AGAIN. Folks, we lived in that house for 2 years and we must have dug that plant up 5 or 6 times. It was a beast!

Now on this trip to the high desert mesas, I was confronted with yucca again, this time in its natural habitat. It was beautiful. It truly was. It’s tall, spiky leaves provided the perfect contrast to the softer, rounded forms of the rabbit brush. The green complemented the other fall colors just beautifully. The plant itself, with the tendrils of fiber coming off down the length of each leaf was beautiful.

The mesas had burned several times in the last 30 years, and there were signs documenting the different fires. Guess what was one of the first things to come back? That’s right. Yucca. It is as tough as nails (as we found out, much to our chagrin!) In my flowerbed, this trait was not appreciated. In a place where fires are a frequent issue—it’s essential. We learned that yucca plants also produce their own antifreeze, and thus are pretty much evergreen, even though they are not woody shrubs.

In addition, we learned that to the ancient Native Americans, the yucca plant was everything. The flower stalks, flowers, and fruit are all edible. The fibrous leaves were used to create everything from clothing to baskets to ropes and nets. The root will lather up in water, and was used as soap.

So what did I learn from this experience?

Every plant has its place. While I still don’t think yucca is a great flowerbed choice, in its natural environment it was beautiful and perfectly suited.

Plants are useful beyond just their pretty flowers. What?! Says the flower farmer in me. It’s true, though—and I knew that, but it was a good reminder. Just because we can’t see the value in a plant, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. The exception to this may be bindweed. I am still searching for its value!

The traits you may find frustrating in a plant could be the very traits that ensure its survival in its native habitat, where other life depends upon it.

Also, now my husband wants to plant yucca at our house, so we can be prepared for any disasters that may come along. I told him as long as he plants it at the back edge of our property, along the fence and across the ditch, go for it! If he does, it will still be there when we’re long gone.