Prince Snow Farm

10.08.2016

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.



10.07.2016

31 Days of Flowers - Day 7 {Gladiolus}

 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.

10.06.2016

31 Days of Flower - Day 6 {Cosmos}


 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.
Yep.
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.



10.05.2016

31 Days of Flowers - Day 5 {Nasturtium}


 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.


10.04.2016

31 Days of Flowers Day 4 {Sunflowers}

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:)





10.03.2016

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!

Tips:

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!

xo

Monica


10.02.2016

31 Days of Flowers - Day 2 {Zinnias}

Welcome to 31 Days of FLOWERS! (part of the Write 31 Days Series).



Today I'd like to talk about Zinnias…perhaps the cheeriest flower in the garden.

I have planted zinnias for many years here in coastal Massachusetts. I find that direct sowing after the danger of  hard frost has passed works best. (I have tried transplants, but they are never as strong). For me, planting is typically Memorial Day weekend. 

I have gone from sowing a tiny patch, to planting more than 700 zinnia seeds this year!  I planted a large 4 x 12 bed of Benary Giant Zinnias. I packed it tight, thinning the seedlings, but not as much as the packages state. Zinnias are a plant that can take tighter spacing. They still produce beautifully. I never pinch, and end up with lots of flowers. Keep cutting and they will keep producing until a hard frost. I also planted a large bed outside my sunporch this year. I planted it about 2 weeks after the others…always a good idea to have a staggered planting.

I have heard some people say that they don't like zinnias because the leaves get a mildew. We have extremely humid weather here on the coast, and I seldom get spotted leaves. If I do, it is typically late in the season or following a week of continuous rain. Even then, it never affects the flower, and I strip all leaves off as I pick anyhow.

Pick zinnias when flowers are fully open. Give the stems a little jiggle. A sturdy stem is ready for picking!

I decided this year to try planting all of one variety in my large bed: Benary's Giant.  
I ordered the following from Harris Seeds:

Giant Bright Pink
Giant Carmine Rose
Giant Coral
Giant Salmon Rose
Giant Purple
Giant White 
Giant Wine

They were hearty, and thrived through a summer of the worst drought I've seen, even with limited watering. They are still producing like crazy! I have only had three white flowers, and haven't had any wine (at least the flower kind ;), so those two colors were a bit of a disappointment. The roses and corals and pinks and purples have been outstanding and huge and vibrant. I will definitely plant a whole bed….maybe two or three, of Benary again next year. 

If you are looking for a bright, cheerful flower that produces a large quantity of long lasting blossoms…choose zinnias. You will be glad you did!

xo

Monica




10.01.2016

31 Days of Flowers Day 1

Hello! Happy fall! 


I am so excited to participate for the third year in a row with Write 31 Days: a writing challenge every October, every day!

This year I have chosen a topic near and dear to my heart: FLOWERS!!!!!

Each day for 31 days I will share a flower I have grown or adore.

What can you expect?

Photos from my gardens

Planting Tips and Tricks

Seed Sources

You can also expect that I usually have a story connected to my flowers…whether a short little ditty from childhood, or a longer narrative from everyday life.

I hope you will join me as I share daily! 

(I'll keep a list of links to all 31 days here on this page!)

Please feel free to ask  questions or leave comments below each post!

See you in the garden!


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