Gardening

Katie Ketelsen

3 Knock-Your-Spring-Socks-Off Bulb Combinations

If you’re looking for first-of-the-spring blooms, you have to plant bulbs. And you have to get them in the ground this fall! I understand how overwhelming it might be to decide which bulbs to pair together — there are so many options! I get it. Hopefully, I can help by sharing three of my favorite bulb combinations.

Fresh-Makers

When I see white and purple together in the garden, it seems so fresh, so crisp, and so refreshing, especially after a long winter. It’s probably my ultimate bulb-combo recommendation. There are several different varieties of daffodils and tulips, see which ones suit might your fancy in our plant encyclopedia: Daffodils,  Tulips.

Looking for more ways to pair white and purple? Get design ideas here.

Ground-Huggers

I’ve always thought the idea of planting bulbs in your lawn for a blanket of spring blooms was clever. Someday I’ll implement this technique with fragrant grape hyacinth and crocus. It really isn’t that hard. See how here.  Also, find out which grape hyacinths are our favorites and learn more about growing crocus.

Do you have bulbs planted in your lawn? I’d love to hear what varieties — and any tips you’ve learned.

Bold Partners

Sometimes you have the desire to make a statement, turn heads in the neighborhood, and that requires a bold combo. Crown imperial and parrot tulips top my list for a crowd-pleaser. Not only are they unique bloomers, their color really pops in the garden. Learn more about crown imperial and hybrid tulips from our plant encyclopedia.

 

Do you have a favorite bulb combination? Share with us!


Katie Ketelsen

3 Mystifying Tulips You Have to Have

I’m truly a plant geek at heart. I get giddy at the thought of new plant varieties. I get anxious at the end of an Iowa winter, awaiting the first sign of green. That’s why I plant spring-blooming bulbs. While it’s almost tedious to have to plant them in the fall (I’ve been tending to the garden all year now, I’m ready for a break!), I understand it’s a necessary chore to help cure my inevitable cabin fever come spring.

Recently, Longfield Gardens shared with me a series of tulips that have me completely mystified. A particular type of tulip that has me as giddy as a school girl in a candy store. A variety of tulip you have to have — above all other varieties. Are you intrigued yet?

{dramatic pause}

Have you heard of tulips that change color as their bloom matures?

{eeek!}

{happy dance}

Bashfully, I admit, I had not heard of such a thing! And naturally, I have to have them. They’re like a two-for-one special: Early blooms bring one color and as the flower ages, you get another!

Get your trowels ready folks, your garden deserves some color-changing tulips. Here is a brief summary of each tulip, but I encourage you to visit Longfield Gardens’ website to learn more.

Shirley

I’ve been crushing on Shirley for a long time now — and can’t wait to see her in all her glory next spring. Surely she’s a winner — right? :)

Shirley’s Details from Longfield Gardens:
A color-changing tulip that opens creamy white with lilac-purple stitching around the edge of each petal. As the blossoms mature, the color slowly spreads until the entire flower is laced with soft purple. Read more here.

Moulin Rouge

This tulip is so romantic, especially after seeing how Longfield Gardens displayed the blooms in a vase. Moulin Range would be the perfect pick-me-up.

Moulin Range’s Details from Longfield Gardens: 
This color-changing tulip puts on a new show every day. It opens creamy white with striking raspberry-pink accents. As the flower matures, the petals become more colorful, until they’re almost completely suffused with cherry pink, rose and crimson. Read more here.

Flaming Purissima

For a more delicate touch, Flaming Purissima belongs in your garden with its classy, white-to-pink blooms.

Flaming Purissima’s Details from Longfield Gardens: 
Welcome spring with this elegant, early-blooming tulip. Like all Emperor tulips, the flowers change day by day, opening ever wider as they mature. The colors also soften from pink to snowy white. An ideal companion for daffodils and hyacinths. 
Read more here.

So, which tulip is your favorite?
What? All of them?
Yeah, me too.
Better order now! I heard these beauties go fast!

 

Image credit: Longfield Gardens.


James A. Baggett

My Recipe for Tomato Bliss

Don’t know about you, but I’m still deep in what I like to call Tomato Bliss. Enjoy it while it lasts because it comes but once a year: fresh-picked tomatoes all day, every day. It seems to commence the first week of August and proceeds all the way to the first hard frost. I wait all year for its sweet juice to drip down my unshaven chin. This year’s crop includes pretty little Yellow Pear Heirloom Cherries, dusky-pink Native American Cherokee Purple, extra-large Mortgage Lifter from West Virginia, and the prolific Mr. Stripey, a good-sized yellow striped heirloom with radiating lines of crimson from the stem. All of them go into a single pot. My beloved apple-green Le Creuset Dutch oven, but any large oven-safe saucepan will do. Cut every last one of your ripest tomatoes into reasonable pieces and add  them to a pot that’s been prepared with a generous amount of good olive oil. You want a depth of at least an inch or two of tomato bliss. Now add four fresh bay leaves. I’ve been pillaging the healthy Proven Winners’ Sicilian Sunshine Sweet Bay Laurel that’s still thriving, despite a season of intense drought, in a container in my front yard. Add three smushed cloves of garlic and a healthy dose of kosher salt. Place the whole thing uncovered in a 375° oven for an hour, stirring and mashing up the goodness every once in a while. This roasted tomato sauce becomes a fragrant and downright delicious caramelized nectar that’s the very essence of tomato goodness. Toss it with pasta. Use it to smother grilled fish or chicken. Sop it up with crusty bread. Add cream and puree it into a decadent soup. Trust me. It’s that easy, go ahead. Put that pile of tomatoes to work and join me in my tomato bliss.

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Whitney Curtis

Heart Strings in the Garden

I was lucky enough to spend a few days earlier this week at the Garden Blogging Conference in Atlanta, GA with some talented garden writers and bloggers. Chatting with my fellow green thumbs, I was struck by the heritage of gardening and the consistency with which we shared, “Well, my mom was a big gardener” or “My father’s family had a farm” or “My grandmother grew the most amazing roses.” It was neat to hear how everyone came to the same hobby, with fond memories and heart strings firmly attached.

transplanting plants

transplanting plants

We’ve grown our backyard garden from just a few special plants – special deliveries traveling in trash bags, fed-ex packages with overnight delivery, and birthday trips to the big box stores. I think that’s what makes this hobby such a heartfelt and emotional one, I could recount a memory or a story with every plant I plant.

transplanting plants

Today, BHG readers, I’d love to hear your stories! Why do you garden? Who are your gardening mentors? Do you have stories and heart strings attached to the plants in your garden? Surely you’ll share a story or two with us? We’d love to hear!

inheriting plants

Photos by Whitney of The Curtis Casa

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Shawna Coronado

2 Great Perennials To Plant In A Shady Side Yard Garden

Side Yard Ferns in Shawna Coronado perennial garden

Fall is the best time to plant perennials in many locations across the country. Why not rebuild that barren side yard garden bed that has been plaguing you this fall? Several years ago I had a rather desolate area on the side of my home (see photo right)  that I converted into a flagstone walking path surrounded by shade perennials.

Side yards often come with adverse conditions. In my case, I have an oak tree planted on the side of my house that gives shade to cool our home, but is located in such a way as to prevent most light from making an appearance in the side garden. This isShady Side Yard Demolition common in side yards and I have a solution: a quiet path combined with shade plants.

Flagstone can be a large investment, however, it is also possible to make a path from old bark or mulch. I placed lots of organic matter in the soil then planted it up with a mixture of ferns, hostas, and other part-shade to shade loving perennials.

2 Awesome Perennials For Shade

Ferns

Dependent upon the variety of fern, you can plant a native to your region, which can be a beneficial home for small mammals like lizards and songbirds. I have often seen frogs and turtles hide in ferns as well. In the photo at top you see Lady Ferns which can grow up to 3 feet tall in my garden. They were given to me as pass-along plants by my mother-in-law and I love them. Squirrels often romp at the base of the oak tree in the ferns. In a dry year the plants will fall to the ground in drought, but will recover in the spring and sprout new fronds reliably. Ferns typically like a rich soil and shady conditions, so they do very well here. Lady Fern, Cinnamon Fern, and New York Fern are some of the easiest to grow.

Hostas

While not native plants, I find hostas to be great hummingbird and pollinator attractors. Hosta leaves can be amazingly colorful as well and do a lot to brighten up a dull space. Hostas prefer rich, well drained, and moist soil. This area of my garden can be rather dry. Therefore, I plant the hostas, then mulch well in anticipation of drier conditions. I planted several varieties along the walk way including Hosta ‘Honeybells’, ‘Guacamole’, and ‘Halcyon’ – all favorite’s within my garden.

Try one of these plants out in your side yard for an easy solution to shady conditions. Plant before the first frost and water well until established.

Side Yard Perennial Plant Garden of Shawna Coronado


BHG Guest Blogger

Tried-and-True Plants for the Southeast

The following is a guest blog post from Helen Yoest.

The Southeast and autumn are like shrimp and grits, the two just go together so well. After a long hot summer, fall is the perfect time to venture back outside. The air is drier, cooling the Southern garden even if the thermometer still registers temps in the 80s.

Let’s head out to garden to visit with some tried and true friends, ones that will give you reason to enjoy the season.

Threadleaf Bluestar, Amsonia hubrichtii

Standing near the mailbox is my old friend, Threadleaf Bluestar, some people call him Hubricht’s Bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii). This amsonia is native to the Southeast and is a tough plant with three long seasons of interest. The spring is the time this herbaceous perennial begins to send up stalks of narrow thread-like foliage topped with sweet blue star-like flowers giving rise to its commonnames.

During the summer, Threadleaf Bluestar takes the form of a soothing mound of soft green leaves. The fine texture is enough to desire the plant in its summer garb, and if you know what’s coming, you’ll find yourself looking at it for what it will be once autumn arrives. As the weather cools, this amsonia will turn bright gold. Flashy, fresh, and a little bit frisky.

Grows to 2-4 feet high. Prefers full sun to light shade; regular to moderate water.

Perennial in zones 4-10. You can remember the botanical Latin name by thinking, (I) Am So N (to) Ya.

 

Tatarian aster, Aster tataricus

 

In the back garden, near the Love Shack,  is Aster (Aster tataricus), some call him Tatarian Aster. He’s leaning against the birdhouse post. This aster is one tall drink of water. Reaching 6 feet tall, with little to no staking required, this late fall blooming herbaceous perennial radiates with scores of cornflower-blue daisy-like flowers and sunny yellow centers.

Grows up to 6 feet high. Prefers full sun; moderate water. Perennial in zones 3-9. You can remember the botanical Latin name by thinking A STAR. Indeed, I think this plant is a star since I named my son after it, Michael Aster.

 

Rain Lily, Zephyranthes candida
 

Mingling in the front garden near the fountain are the rain lilies (Zephyranthes candida). They visit on and off all summer through fall but come out in great numbers after a rain, hence their common name.

I first got interested in white rain lilies when I learned about a ceremony in 2007 of the Southern Garden History Society honoring Elizabeth Lawrence, the first women Landscape Architect from North Carolina State University and revered garden writer. Members made a pilgrimage to Lawrence’s unadorned grave in a colonial churchyard outside Annapolis where they planted white rain lilies donated by Old House Gardens – Heirloom Bulbs. Rain lilies were some of Miss Lawrence’s favorite little bulbs. Then and there I purchased my first few of these  pass-along plants, and now I have hundreds growing in my garden, Helen’s Haven http://gardeningwithconfidence.com/blog/about-helens-haven/  sharing with other gardening friends who visit in late summer.

Grows grass-like floppy foliage about 8 to 10 inches long topped with perky flowers 3 to 4 inches tall. Prefers full sun to part shade; moderate to moist soil. Perennial, semi-evergreen in zones 7-10. You can remember the common name by thinking, RAIN LILIES ;~\

Ginger, Hedychium ‘Elizabeth’
 

Ginger, Hedychium ‘Elizabeth’ shows up in the fall and steals the show. You can put her next to anyone, even some of your favorite friends like the colocasias, but ginger will be the one getting all the attention. It’s her nature to want you to feel tropical, as if you were stranded on a desert island.

Grows 6-8 feet tall. Prefers full sun to part shade; moderate water. Perennial, in zones 7b-11. You can remember the common name by thinking, of Ginger from Gilligan’s Island. Tall, beautiful, (although I’m more the Mary Ann type) and in this case, like Gilligan’s Ginger, with an orange top. And like the Ginger character, this perennial will have your lips moving even when you aren’t saying anything.

Red Spider Lilies, Lycoris radiata
 

A crazy plant if there ever was one, the red spider lily, Lycoris radiata, sends up stalks, seemingly out of nowhere, because there’s no foliage until after the flower blooms. Then you have a nice tuff of green to carry you though the winter, only to die back in the heat of summer.

This beauty hails from the Orient but has a strong connections to North Carolina. It was first introduced to the United States by Captain William Roberts, who brought a few dried bulbs back with him to his New Bern home after he sailed on Commodore Matthew Perry’s famous mission to open up Japan’s trade routes in 1854.

Grows 18-24 inches tall. Prefers full sun to part shade; moderate to moist soil. Perennial, semi-evergreen in zones 7-10. You can remember this plant by its other common name, NAKKID LADIES. This name was given because the stalks rise in the absence of leaves.
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Helen Yoest is an award winning garden writer and author of Gardening with Confidence:  Fifty Ways to Add Style for Personal Creativity and Plants with Benefits:  An Uninhibited Guide to the Aphrodisiac Herbs, Fruits, Flowers & Veggies in Your Garden. Helen is also author of the popular blog, Gardening with Confidence®.

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