31 Days of Flowers - Day 8 { Lavender }

 { Lavender }

I first started growing Lavender about 17 years ago. I had a huge lavender garden with approximately 20 plants. Over the years, they produced and abundance of gorgeous tall, fragrant flowers. I harvested the lavender early in July and would hang the stems to dry as bouquets,(or for stripping the fragrant buds for sachets). 

The plants grew VERY large, perhaps 4-5 feet across! Over the years, the stems grew thick and woody. The once beautiful lavender garden still produced in abundance, but was no longer attractive. 

We planted about 20 young lavender plants, anticipating that within a few years the grand dames of the garden would be gone. The young lavender plants succumbed to a series of deep freezes and record snowfalls. The grand dames continued to produce :)

Only just a few weeks ago, after many years of mixed emotions, did I clip the thick stems and dig the deep roots of these old lavender plants. 

They had served us well. They gave us their beauty, and we share it with many.

I am a sentimental gardener, and must admit I was a bit teary as I pulled these plants out. 
Seventeen years, (the same age as my son),  is a long time to tend and coddle and harvest. It is hard to give up something you have cared for so deeply.

I am planning a new garden where the lavender garden once stood. It will be enclosed with a repurposed white picket fence from another part of our yard. It will have cut flowers, and lavender, and will share its beauty with the world.

It will whisper on the wind about its predecessors, nodding to the spot where they once stood and embracing you with the glory of nature's bounty. 

I purchased my original lavender plants at Cape Cod Lavender Farm. They have a broad variety of lavenders.  We live in Coastal Massachusetts, and CCLF knows exactly how to match up lavenders for your growing conditions.

I grew in a very sandy soil. The lavender obviously loved it! 

My favorite varieties are Provence, Grosso, and Hidcote.


31 Days of Flowers - Day 7 {Gladiolus}


A few year ago I bought about 50 Gladioli on sale in mid-summer. They flowered right before frost, putting on a spectacular display. After their leaves died back, I gathered all of the corms and stored them for the winter.

A good friend and co-worker told me that she leaves her Gladioli in the ground all winter, and that they are beautiful. Hmmm. Not have to pull up all of the corms? Ok! I'll try it next year. And I did. And she was right!

Only they weren't just beautiful. They were spectacular. They were twice the height and blossom size of the previous season. And the corms had multiplied, giving us a more extensive garden filled with early -late July color. They hung on without any rain, producing full stalks of the most delicate looking, yet sturdy flowers.

I pick the Gladioli when the bottom few flowers are opening. The other flowers will follow suit within a few days. 

My Dad loved Glads.

I just know I would proudly share a big, colorful bouquet with him, 

knowing that he would appreciate every detail of these old-fashioned beauties.


31 Days of Flower - Day 6 {Cosmos}


Oh these frilly blossoms!
I actually had a woman upset with me on Instagram a couple of years ago. She would not accept that these lavender ruffled beauties were actually Cosmos.
They are!
And I don't argue very well. 
Just not my thing!

 The petals are so full and look gorgeous in bouquets. 

I also LOVE Dancing Petticoats and Little Ladybirds varieties.

I direct seed at the same time as my Zinnias…usually around Memorial Day here in Coastal Massachusetts.

Cosmos may need support,or may be planted at the back of your flower garden, or alongside a fence. Wherever you plant them, they are sure to please.


31 Days of Flowers - Day 5 {Nasturtium}


For many years I planted only the same flowers and vegetables, staying "safe" with what I knew I grew well. It was my garden comfort zone. 

Well, a few years ago, I broke out of my comfort zone, and I have never looked back!

And I have never been let down. 

Nasturtium prefers "ok" soil. Nothing fancy, nothing added. In fact, if you have an area of your garden that is a bit worn…use it for Nasturtium!

I direct seed after last frost, and enjoy these blossoms all summer and into the fall here on the south coast of Massachusetts.

Do not treat or feed your Nasturtium if you are planning on eating these peppery blossoms.

I also must admit that Nasturtium are extremely photogenic.

I made an entirely edible bouquet with herbs and radish flowers, and had a little photo shoot.

And it took a week to wipe the smile off of my face.

All because of the garden.


31 Days of Flowers Day 4 {Sunflowers}


Who doesn't love the beauty of a sunflower? 
Is it the cheerful yellow? 
The thought of standing in a field filled with tall stems of sunnies billowing on a breeze?

I plant my sunflowers at the back of my garden, and once mid-August hits I am treated to a marvelous backdrop of sunshine. The sunflowers are glorious against the deep greens of the woods beyond, and add such a  regal, yet "down on the farm" feeling to the garden.

This year, I planted my sunflowers a bit late with the chaos of getting ready for our trip to The Azores.
My hope had been to make a HUGE sunflower garden in my 20 x 15 former veggie garden. But time…and a jungle got away from me, so I happily planted what I could at the back of my garden and cheered those babies on!

I usually plant at least one tall variety, one branching variety, and one smaller variety.

My favorites:

I use a small battery powered tiller to dig a 10 x 10 bed. 

I plant in rows, a bit closer than suggested on the package…which also keeps flower head size down, making them perfect for arrangements. 

I water and cover with permeable ground cover after planting. This keeps the birds away and allows me to water. I uncover as soon as the seeds sprout.

I water until seedlings are around 6" and look strong, ad then I do not water again unless we are in a drought. Even then, they are surprisingly resilient.

I do not weed the sunflower area. Sunnies are strong and do not allow weeds to overcome them.
 (At least not here in the Northeast)

Cut fresh flowers in the morning after the dew has dried.

If you pick when the first few petals are unfurling from the flower head, these flowers will keep longer, and will open within a day or so.

Seed Saving:

Let a few heads dry on the stems. Harvest these dried seeds for future planting. (If the squirrels and finches leave you any:)


31 Days of Flowers Day 3 {Limelight Hydrangea}

Limelight Hydrangea

Day 3 in the Write 31 Days Series.

Well here in Coastal Massachusetts, we had some harsh conditions last winter. As we were preparing for below zero temps, I worried about my lavender. Well, I should have been worried about my blue hydrangeas as well. The extra cold winter, and deep freeze in February prevented beautiful blue and crimson hydrangeas from producing blossoms this year. 

But it didn't affect my Limelight Hydrangea at all! 

In fact, this lovely tree like shrub usually fades fast to white, and this year it was a gorgeous lime shade for much of the season. Of course, it also may have been related to the drought that engulfed us this summer.

So what do I love?

Produces from late July….until October.
Blossoms look gorgeous in bouquets.
The plant regenerates smaller branches of flowers after picking.
Attracts Pollinators.
Dries wonderfully if picked in late-September…early October. (Just put them in an empty vase!)
Consistent in blossom time and production.
Fills in a large space.
Grows TALL!

Anything I don't love?

It has a thick, woody, tree-like stem and will not ever transplant easily. 
That's it!


I leave the faded blossoms all winter. They look so pretty topped with snow. The birds also love to hide among the blossoms in winter.

I cut back in spring, GENEROUSLY! It has never affected the growth or production of flowers. In fact, without that trim, I think it would become unruly! 

I prune in late winter or early spring, BEFORE new growth sets on the branches. 

My limelight is planted in full sun and never droops. It loves the bright sunshine. 

I purchased my Limelight locally at Eden Garden Shop. 
I am sure you could find a garden shop in your area on the Monrovia site.

Happy Garden Planning!



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