Flowering Friday – thoughts on companion plants

                               Hosta & Astilbe love shade

A garden is the perfect companion for us, just as certain plants are for each other. 🙂

Some of my favourites include:

  • Basil & Tomatoes
  • Corn, Beans, & Squash
  • Leeks & Carrots
  • Borage & Tomatoes
  • Dill & Lettuce
  • Flax & Potatoes
  • Lavender & Thyme
  • Oregano & Peppers
  • Wormwood & Sedum
  • Lemon balm & bee balm
  • Hosta & Astilbe (see photo)

Wormwood & Sedum

What are some of your favourite flower, vegetable, or herbal combinations?

Happy Friday, everyone!

 

 

Baptisia – A blue flowered beauty for any garden!

Baptisia, also known as false indigo, is a genus in the legume family, Fabaceae.

This herbaceous flowering perennial offers pea-like flowers that once pollinated, produce pea-like seed pods.

The bees love these flowers, which means food for them, and in turn, allows me to collect the seeds and sow them all around the garden.

Native to woodlands in eastern North America, the species most commonly cultivated is called Baptisia australis, which is the one shown in my photo.

Baptisia species are food plants for the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the lovely Jaguar Flower moth, Schinia jaguarina.

Baptisia grows to 3 feet tall and form wide clumps that might need some support when they’re heavily laden with seed heads.

They’ll really thrive in full sun, but do well with some shade, too. Once established, they’re quite drought tolerant, and, it’s best to leave them alone. The deep roots of this plant do not appreciate being moved.

I love Baptisia, not just because its flowers are a bee magnet, but because deer won’t eat them, and because they offer a real true blue flower in the garden.

In the garden, they look great combined with any other colour nature offers, but I love them paired with purple coneflower, clumps of lavender, tall white phlox, purple liatris, and big Rudbeckias.

Along with blue, Baptisia also offers gardeners white or yellow flowers. I’ll be on the lookout for those this coming year!

Just a note on toxicity, apparently the leaves are somewhat toxic, (hence the deer not eating them), and I think the seeds are too, so though they’re related to the Pea family, they’re definitely not edible. Don’t eat them!

Thanks for visiting, and Happy Gardening!

The joys of container gardening – DIY tips and tricks of the trade

Many gardening enthusiasts may not have big yards, but they’re still keen to play in the dirt! Happily, flexing one’s green thumb is not out of reach for anyone!

Small spaces like balconies, decks, and windowsills are itching for a pretty pot of flowers.

Great gardening pleasures can be had by any gardener, even in the smallest spaces. As a former apartment dweller, I can say for the record that anyone who is keen to grow something, can have their own little piece of paradise, too.

Choice of container and design is limited only by the imagination, and of course the amount one is willing to shell out for it!

Containers range in size, shape, and substance. Clay pots, wooden barrels, wire wall/hanging baskets, and plastic urns, are just some examples. However, with limited space, one might want to keep in mind that some containers need to be stored in a sheltered site over the winter, especially clay pots which may crack in really cold climates like mine.

Not unlike a ‘conventional’ garden plot, container plantings require suitable preparation.

Space, light, soil, water access, plant food, and of course weather, should all be taken into account. By seeking suitable plant material for these conditions, one can ensure a bountiful show, so all that effort and investment going into those planters doesn’t go to waste.

Restricted root space may add constraints to plant preferences, too. Over the course of a growing season some varieties (like asparagus fern) are more prolific with their root multiplication than others.

Good drainage is key for successful container gardening. Nobody wants soggy plant roots that inevitably drown. Nothing kills a plant like kindness! (Take it from me, I know, lol.) This is easily avoided by making sure the container has holes in the bottom. With the addition of broken clay pot shards, pebbles, or even Styrofoam chips lining the bottom of the pot, excess water has somewhere else to go.

Along with begonias, geraniums, herbs, or flowing foliage plant bulbs, seeds, and yes, even veggies will thrive in a container!

Just think of the fabulous fresh basil, (plus other herbs), and even cherry tomatoes, all of which can be grown in a very small space. In fact, one year I grew a container full of ornamental corn!

Succulents are perfect for patios, and for on the wall, too! Most of all they’re drought tolerant and as a vertical garden, take up no floor or table space at all.

I like to use unusual containers, for example a bunt pan, which can go on the patio table with the big umbrella right through the hole in the middle. It’s a great way to save space! These can be picked up cheap at most second hand stores! Violets in spring would look nice in them, too.

Tropical plants love the heat and humidity. All of my houseplants go outside for the summer, with the added benefit of making my house seem a lot more spacious during the growing season! Some don’t like too much sun, and there is a downside… when I bring them back in, once again I have to determine who gets the best sunny spots for the winter, (as there’s only so much window space), make sure there are no pests clinging about, (yuck), and our house seems once again, a little less spacious! But that’s okay!

In the past, I’ve layered the two big whiskey barrel containers, (since replaced with cement pots) from our porch with flowering bulbs. Simply plant them beneath the roots of any other plants that are dug in for the rest of the growing season. Tulips, daffodils, or crocus will shoot up and offer a lovely, early spring display! I let bulb foliage die back naturally. Other plants growing around them cover that up, and the bulbs can be planted in the ground, if you have a space, for the next year. It’s a great way to offer seasonal interest!

It’s also fun to experiment with different plant combinations, colours, textures, and foliage every year. Or not, because if you find a planting package that works for you, by all means, go for it!

Do keep in mind that many tender plants may not over-winter in containers, which are exposed to really cold temperatures that gets at their roots, unlike perennials that are insulated from frost by growing directly in the ground.

Unfortunately, most annuals aren’t hardy enough to get through a Haliburton Highlands winter. (However, I’ve had good luck overwintering parsley and kale in our raised beds). But, most annual plants grown in containers are cultivated for one season only and composted.

Geraniums might be the exception to this for me. I do over-winter a few of my favourites by bringing them in the house. Out they go again in late spring once any chance of frost damage is long gone.

In any case, there’s something to be said about gardening in containers!

Imagine a beautiful show without the aggravation of maintaining a big lawn or weeding flowerbeds!

Personally, I’m quite happy to mow a bit of lawn, and weed the garden too, which I find relaxing, though the size of our lawn shrinks every year because my garden keeps expanding, lol, (funny how that happens!) but in this, I may be an exception to the rule.

Happy Gardening!

 

Milkweed and Monarchs #ThursdayThoughts

What more can I add to the already enormous amount of factual information & interesting literature in cyberspace, stating why we should plant milkweed in the garden to help Monarch butterflies?!

Not much, I admit…

(Sharing those links below).

In any case, I’ll try to promote the idea by sharing here how this past summer, I let the milkweed roam & grow where they liked.

Did I mention their scent is lovely? Well, it really is. -> Next year, take a snootful and see (smell) for yourself what I mean.

Rarely, but on occasion, the ‘o.c.d./weeding/tidy up the garden’ gardener in me, reached in towards the flower beds in order to pluck a few out.

But, I came to my senses and resisted… then scolded myself in the process.

Glad I restrained myself, because when it comes right down to it, what is a garden really for?

Our personal enjoyment yes, but also to encourage and help the other beings on this planet thrive, be they insects, birds, or mammals.

At the end of the season I was duly rewarded with plenty of seeds pods that burst forth in a spectacular fashion! Truly, they are nature’s understated fireworks.

So, I collected many seed pods and dried them in order to scatter those seeds all around our property next spring.

Here’s hoping it helps our winged friends, even a little bit, and that many of them will visit me next year.

Just some thoughts on a snowy winter day. 🙂

Further reading

Nature Watch Canada

National Wildlife Federation

PBS 

Monarch Watch

Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Musk Mallow, or Malva moschata for Flowering Friday

Widely grown as an ornamental plant for its attractive and slightly scented flowers, the musk mallow blooms throughout the summer.

Several cultivars have been selected for variation in flower colour, including the one shown here from my garden, ‘Rosea’, with its dark pink flowers.  The cultivar ‘Alba’ (white flowered) earned the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Though not native to North America, (more Eastern European/Central Asia), I consider it an heirloom plant because it’s been in cultivation for a long time, as you can see from the hand-coloured botanical engraving below from the 1700’s.

Pretty colour, lovely scent, drought tolerant, and the bees love them… The musk mallow ticks all the right boxes when I’m choosing flowers for my garden! 🙂