Believe me, it beats working on my computer and trying to figure out what ails it. Maybe a nice dose of 'If you don't start working right, I'm going to take you to the dump,' might do the trick. Ah, technology. I yearn for simpler days . . . right. Like I want to spend hours at the library and days waiting for a book loan to come through! Okay. The computer can stay. Anyway, I'm going to start uploading some of this spring's columns, so, hold on to your seats . . . DD Two is out of hibernation and picking gree n plant materials out of her ears! Hello, dears. Yes, I'm back. And I'm up to my ears in little green growing things in the greenhouse. It is sooo nice not to have to shovel snow anymore, isn't it? To heck with sunscreen! I just want to fluff up my pineal gland and make like a lizard in the sun. Even the mud looks good these days.
DD Two is out of hibernation and picking gree
n plant materials out of her ears!
Hello, dears. Yes, I'm back. And I'm up to my ears in little green growing things in the greenhouse. It is sooo nice not to have to shovel snow anymore, isn't it? To heck with sunscreen! I just want to fluff up my pineal gland and make like a lizard in the sun. Even the mud looks good these days.
Biennials - Garden Divas Worth Waiting ForLast week, my Irish cousin Sue, emailed me some old black and white photos of my father’s family. They were black and white, but, the memories they evoked were all in color. The huge blue green hydrangeas with orange tiger lilies leap frogging through them, and the neat clipped privet edging in a tiny knot garden were grandma’s little bit of England in the middle of Milford, Connecticut. Growing up in
English biennial Forget-me-not 'Ultramarine'
While our zone three gardens grow tall stately delphiniums, bell-flowered campanulas, and blue poppies that any English gardener would kill for, the true stars of the cottage gardens are the ones we rarely grow anymore - the old-fashioned biennials. Patience is required for the full effect of these divas as they only give us a peek at their wares in the first year of growth. Hollyhocks have huge crinolines of round velvet leaves that tower over the Sweet Williams and Forget-me-nots with their neat mounds of green flushed with bronze. English daisies make prim rosettes of shiny green almost good enough to eat. And Angelica gigas taunts with her bold voluptuous divided leaves of deep green and maroon. Teases, the lot of them. Think of them as the salad before the entree.
Black Hollyhock with Sunflower and Sweet Peas.
The real show is worth the wait. With tall spikes of hibiscus-like flowers from white, pink, and rose to peach, yellow, and near black, the hollyhocks make a great foil for campanulas, geraniums, annual poppies, bachelor buttons, cosmos, and Nicotiana. My black hollyhock looked marvelous paired with a gold Provencal sunflower threaded through with a pink-white sweet pea. The bumblebees loved it, too. Their large seed heads look like cheese wheels and are easy to dry and save.
Many biennials are just perennials that need a new set of threads by year three. Fortunately, they produce lots of seed so they tend to naturalize or ‘volunteer’ in your garden so they’ll always be with you. Some of them are quite promiscuous and cross with themselves and their near cousins to make new colors and sometimes whole new varieties. Pansies and violas do that. What was once a black viola is now a black wine viola with yellow speckles knee deep in the pavers. Some of them are rather large, so I know there’s a pansy lurking in the DNA.
Sweet Williams 'Purple Oeschberg' and 'Dunnetti's Crimson'
with Lady's Mantle and Campanulas
My first Sweet Williams were planted firmly in the middle of my eighth birthday cake. They were the hit of the party. Mom and I drove down
So, build a little mystery and suspense into your gardening scheme and try some biennials this year. There’s plenty of time to start some seeds before summer gets here. What do you know? It’s snowing again!