5 Favorite Tips

Zinnias1.   Joyous and carefree as the halcyon summer days can be, zinnias bedazzle us with their unabashed brilliance.  They look as if a child had gone unsupervised with a box of 1000 Crayola crayons, coloring with singular doggedness each flower. Zinnias are a fitting preclude before….. (Zappy Zinnias)

Magnolia petals2. Each year happens the same, the weather gets warmer and before we know it,  we are  barraged by this festival of blooms called springtime. It seems there is barely enough time to enjoy one flower display before the next one is vying for our attention, screaming out our name to be looked at and admired. Or, we can see this as the moment you can push the boundaries of  bloom time…. (Pushing Bloom Boundaries)

Cut Iceland poppies stand out against the pop art painting (private home, Tasmania, Australia)

Cut Iceland poppies stand out against the pop art painting (private home, Tasmania, Australia)

3. Poppies are best cut early in the morning when the bud begins to reveal some color. They then should be  plunged into… (Prolonging Cut Poppies)

Myosotis sylvatica

Myosotis sylvatica

4. Don’t forget to take notes, it is important to document your successes and failures including ideas you might want to improve upon for next year in the garden, such as…  (Noting Notes)

Jewel tones of Geranium [Rozanne] = 'Gerwat' and Eschscholzia californica 'Jelly Beans' with Nassella tenuissima

Jewel tones of Geranium [Rozanne] = ‘Gerwat’ and Eschscholzia californica ‘Jelly Beans’ with Nassella tenuissima

5. Geranium [Rozanne] = ‘Gerwat’ may be ubiquitous, dethroning ‘Johnson’s Blue’, but it doesn’t preclude it from being…. (Blue and Orange Deux)

pushing bloom boundaries

Magnolia petals

Each year happens the same, the weather gets warmer and before we know it,  we are  barraged by this festival of blooms called springtime. It seems there is barely enough time to enjoy one flower display before the next one is vying for our attention, screaming out our name to be looked at and admired.   We can appreciate these heightened, but brief flowering shows of trees and shrubs for what it is, thinking the moment to shine has passed once the petals have fallen to the ground. Or, we can see this as the moment you can push the boundaries of  bloom time, prolonging the display by taking advantage of tiny counterparts that might sometimes go unnoticed by being so low to the ground.

Primula flowerPrimula

Underplant these areas with small plants that bloom during the same period. To really catch the attention of a wandering eye, pick colors that are bold together, we can save subtlety for another time.  The goblet shaped flowers of Magnolia x soulangeana rains down fleshy white petals flushed with pale pink onto the reddish-purple blooms of  the small Primula pulverulenta, causing the blooms of this small perennial with gray stems to hover above a pale creamy background.

Mysotis and Berberis

In another scenario we have a study on complementary colors, where the diminutive blue blooms of Myosotis sylvatica are held even higher against a carpet of  orange flowers belonging to the evergreen shrub Berberis darwinii.

Violets and CamelliaAn invigorating combination of tertiary colors helps make the often overlooked Viola riviana a noticeable star as they nod above the discarded petals of  Camellia japonica.   It doesn’t matter what combination of colors or plants you choose, at any time of year, just have fun with it and play another round of bloom time…    -J

Lily tricks

removing the anthers

removing the anthers

There are usually tricks to getting some of your cut flowers to look better and last longer. The best time to buy lilies is when most of the buds are closed or are just beginning to open (which then allows you to see the color of blooms).  Purchasing at this time will get you a longer period of display with them.

Once a flower bud has opened enough to see the dark anthers, it’s a good idea to remove them from the flower by pulling them off. Doing this will ensure that no pollen will fall off and land on the petals, which will discolor them.  It also helps prevent any pollen from falling off and causing an unsightly and hard to remove stain on  nearby fabrics, the lilies may be placed near.  If some pollen does get on fabric, do not try to remove it with your fingers because your natural oils will just cause the stain to set, causing more damage.  Use  tape to remove it – a piece for each time you need to touch the fabric until all the pollen is gone.

Even though lilies symbolize purity in art, that is not always  be the case in reality.  -J

Noting notes

Myosotis sylvatica

Myosotis sylvatica*

Don’t forget to take notes, it is important to document your successes and failures including ideas you might want to improve upon for next year in the garden, such as combinations, quantity of plants, or spacing issues.  We  noticed here in our garden, Gravetye Manor, that we need to plant more Tulipa turkestanica among our dark purple flowering Helleborus orientalis for a much stronger visual impact.

Equally important, jot down what you see when viewing exhibitions when visiting museums and galleries. It is easier to cross-reference the ideas that interest you, such as artists, movements and periods, which can always be further researched later on.  Saving your tickets in these books is a way to easily note where you have been, what you have seen and when, since they already have the museum, date, and exhibition name included on it. -James

*Don't forget your notebook.

*Don’t forget your notebook.

Ephemeral Tip

Muscari armeniacum

Muscari armeniacum

When growing bulbs in the garden, it’s natural to want to cut those beautiful spring ephemerals to bring them inside.  There are tricks as to when is the best time to cut them to help ensure maximum amount of pleasure from these blooms.  For Scilla siberica it is recommended to cut them when the flowers have just started to open to prolong vase time, which can be up to 7-10 days.  Muscari armeniacum is best to cut just as the flower florets have started to open, starting at the bottom, and giving them an indoor life in a vase for up to 4 days or more.  Always remember the small task of making a fresh cut at the bottom with floral scissors or sharp knife while  changing the water daily will give further life to your cut flowers.     -J