When the amaryllis, Hippeastrum striatum, flowers are blooming it’s time to be a bee. #FridayFlower

Being a bee today! Happily, it’s amaryllis season again, so I’ve been pollinating the flowers of this bulb by hand.

I look forward to this favourite horticultural activity every year! ๐Ÿ™‚

Also looking forward to harvesting the seeds they’ll produce in a few weeks time, and then sowing those offspring in order to grow more amaryllis babies.

The cycle continues!

More on this amaryllis: Its botanical name is Hippeastrum striatum. ย It’s believed to be one of the first hybrid amaryllis, with a modern botanical history dating back to the late 1700’s.

Sometimes called a ‘Barbados lily’, this flowering herbaceous perennial bulb plant hails from the Amaryllidaceae family, and it’s native to the southern and eastern regions of Brazil.

It was originally brought to the UK upon its discovery back in 1759, and first listed in the Library at Kew in 1789.

Discovering more history on this amaryllis is very exciting!

I only wish I could share this information with my late great Uncle Allan from whom I inherited the plant. He always wanted to know more about the amaryllis because it originated from his grandmother, who incidentally was my Great-great Grandmother.

But, that’s not going to happen now, so I’m just grateful to be its current caretaker, and happy to continue, (in some small way), to propagate and promote the heritage and lineage of this lovely plant.

For tips on how to propagate your amaryllis, or if you’re seeking some information on how to keep an Amaryllis healthy and happy from year to year, I’ve written a more in-depth blog post here.

Happy Flowering Friday, everyone!

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 oneโ€™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 โ€˜conventionalโ€™ 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 doesnโ€™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, Iโ€™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. Itโ€™s a great way to offer seasonal interest!

Itโ€™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 arenโ€™t hardy enough to get through a Haliburton Highlands winter. (However, Iโ€™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, thereโ€™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, Iโ€™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!

 

Through the looking glass – #WordlessWednesday

Hippeastrum striatum

Joe Pye Weed – a favourite native plant for bees, butterflies, and me!

Joe Pye Weed, aka Eupatorium maculatum, (or in some circles, Eutrochium), is a big favourite with bees, butterflies, and me!

Every year it seems, nature offers me a new favourite flower, perhaps one I’ve previously known about but overlooked. These beautiful natives, despite having the word ‘weed’ in their name, should not be overlooked by gardeners.

The bright pink to mauve flowers offer food to pollinators from July through late September.ย  A native plant, this lovely, tall specimen thrives in full sun to light shade.

It prefers moist soil, but will tolerate a drier spot if it’s watered well enough in the beginning, so their roots can grow deep enough and therefore not dry out too quickly.

Give them optimum conditions, they’ll grow up to 6 feet tall in Zones 4 through 8.

Their preferred habitat includes moist meadows, or the banks along a stream or pond. Plant them in your butterfly/pollinator garden, or a slightly damp spot on your property.

(If you’re smitten with these flowers like I am, just an FYI that I’ll have some seeds from this lovely plant listed in my Etsy shop over the next day or so.)

Thank you!

Sweet Peas are ‘Scentsational’ Flowers

This lovely climber is an old time favourite.

Sweet Peas have been cultivated, at least since the 17th century, were immensely popular during the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and are native to the eastern Mediterranean region.

Every year I grow a few in my garden, if only for an occasional pick-me-up from a snootfull of their heavenly fragrance. ๐Ÿ™‚

If I could bottle the scent of Lathyrus odoratus to enjoy all winter, you can bet I would!

If like me, you like to get the jump on spring, I recommend preparing the ground this time of year for next year’s planting. Top dress the garden, and dig in some sheep manure, which helps to draw roots down deeper in the ground, resulting in less watering overall, happier seedlings, and healthier plants.

Sweet Pea flowers come in many shades. This includes purple, pink, blue, white, and bi-colours, too. Pollinators enjoy the flowers, and I am able to enjoy the Hummingbirds and bees when they visit and pollinate the sweet peas for me.

Sweet Peas are a great cut flower, and perfect for bridal bouquets.

I worked as a floral designer at a wonderful flower shop in Toronto, and a few days before I was married, one of our wholesale flower reps gave me a bunch of these lovelies as a wedding gift.ย  As my wedding bouquet was already created, I took them instead to my grandmother’s grave and left them there for her. A token of how much she would be missed… But I digress!

A couple of years ago, I broke down and bought a perennial sweet pea plant, Lathyrus latifolius.

A vigorous climber, it seemed very happy to attach itself to the obelisk my better half built for me. It’s very hardy in this zone 4 of Ontario, and a prolific bloomer, too. This year it grew taller and thicker than last, which as a gardener, was good to see!

I did note however, that annual sweet peas have a much stronger scent than the perennial version. Of course that might just be the variety I’m growing, but in any case, both are beautiful, and very welcome in my garden!

It is worth mentioning that ornamental sweet peas can be toxic if ingested, so don’t eat them!

They’re not edible like their Pea cousins, Pisum sativum, which by the way have similar flowers, but the bonus of edibles for dinner!

Or, if you’re like me, eaten directly from the plant while standing next to them in the garden. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Of interest, within the language of flowers, the Sweet Pea means “Everlasting, or delicate pleasures”, and, along with the daisy, they’re the birth month flower for April.

House and Garden – Mayflower, ca 1902