Flower Power: What's Blooming?
Some things that I planted, and some that volunteered are blooming up a storm, making me realize that I need to get a bunch of my summer annual standbys started in flats! No, I'm not one of those virtuous folks that grows everything from seed, I wish. I've certainly enriched the coffers of Orchard Supply Hardware, Loew's, and Yamigami's Nursery this year, especially after losing various plants to various mishaps (too much sun, too much water, That Which Eats in the Night, etc). I adore pink and white snap dragons, and put up with the yellow ones in the mixes, but I usually buy them at stores as they have them earlier than I have the patience to start them.
But there are still things that I love to grow that are too expensive or hard to find in stores, or that are just so *easy* that I can't imagine buying them, like the cornflowers I've been planting from a $5 shoebox of seeds that my husband brought back one day from the ham radio flea market. "I saw these, and figured, why not?" Lots of folks have enjoyed those seeds, as I've given away packets to individuals and then donated most of the rest to the Sunnyvale Community Gardens-- if you see bright blue and pink cornflowers, deep red single poppies, and lots of baby's breath, they may have come from that shoebox!
The other half of the Blue Celeste "exhibition" sweet peas are blooming-- all but one rotted out last year in the spring rains, but fortunately I didn't plant the whole package, and saved the rest for this year. They are marvelous, and I've completely fallen in love with sweet peas. I'd never seen the kind on long stems before, and didn't quite understand what all the fuss was all about! There's a garden bed in the community garden that has some nice lattice put up and is growing sweet peas on the shady side of it-- gorgeous!
This is the first year we have no nasturtiums in the backyard beyond a few around the corner. Fence got 'em when it blew over in the storm and had to be replaced-- the contractor had to dig, alas. But the ones in the side yard seem to be doing really well in the partial shade on the side of the house. They haven't blown out yet for the season, nor been aphid infested (keeping my fingers crossed). They keep naturalizing from seed, and I was able to move some clumps before the contractor got to them all. These are the 5th or 6th generation from some 'Jewel' mix that we bought back in 2003. Still going strong!
The day lilies are blooming, and a couple of very early gladiolas. While I wanted both for cut flowers, I usually don't have the heart to cut them! Dahlias and Asian Lilies are coming up, yay! Gotta stake 'em up before they get much futher along, lest they fall over and pull themselves out of the ground. Ditto on some of the gladiolas.
Old-fashioned stock, with its wonderful pinks and pastels, is a sweet-smelling favorite. It's either re-seeding itself of it blooms a LOONNG time! The honey-sweet smell of alyssum is always welcome, and while I do buy a six-pak of it now and then, once I plant it (and stop overwatering it!) it naturalizes and stays pretty. The clove-spicy pink carnation in the corner smells marvelous, but needs to be dead-headed regularly or it will stop blooming. I usually try to pick things that don't need that kind of hand-holding. Sprays of lavender, a big french lavender that started out as a small pot 2 years ago, bring all the bees around to visit.