As we prepare to attend, or host, gatherings of family and friends to greet the new year, fresh flowers are the perfect present to give to others and to ourselves. They freshen up our homes and gladden our hearts.
By the turn of the century Christmas trees had become popular additions to the other plant materials used for decorations over the holidays.
At the approach of the holiday season, early American colonists decorated their homes with greenery in the English tradition.
During the holiday season many of us may be giving or receiving an amaryllis bulb as a gift. These plants we grow indoors in pots, are just one member of the amaryllis family and are South American natives.
Potted Poinsettia plants are a traditional part of our holiday decorations. The plant is native to Mexico where it grows, out of doors, as a common awkward looking shrub. The colorful petal-like leaves are not actually the flowers but are really bracts.
As Thanksgiving approaches and traditional family dinners are being planned, many of us will be buying cranberries. The Pilgrims first found them growing over low swampy areas at Plymouth Rock.
Although I admire Emily’s optimism, somehow I don’t think she could have been a gardener. Gardeners, I think, while welcoming the changing seasons are always looking ahead to next year’s roses.
The cone flowers still have their seed heads, so we won’t cut those down yet - let the birds enjoy them awhile longer. We are eager to cut down the asters though. They look so dilapidated - but what a mass of pink and purple they were earlier.
Tree peonies have flower petals with a magnificent silky sheen. Mature plants reach 4-5 feet and can produce in the spring as many as 50 exquisite blooms but they may take a few years to reach their full glory.
Tulips were growing in the gardens of Turkish Sultans in the early 1500’s. The name is derived from the flowers resemblance to upside down turbans known as tulibans.
Hyacinths were first found growing in Asia, but because of the efforts of Dutch growers, there are now many varieties in the genus “Hyacintha.” Most bloom in the spring from bulbs planted in the fall.
Natural looking containers are best for fall arrangements: for example, use a basket, a small-hollowed out pumpkin, a terracotta or ceramic bowl or even a coffee mug.
Chrysanthemums went to Japan in the fourth century and became its national flower. They were introduced to Europe in 1688 and arrived in America in 1798.
There are many members of the genus “anemone” but every gardener, who values perennials that bloom in autumn, should have some Japanese anemones. These are tall perennials with wiry branching stems that hold their dainty flowers aloft.
Flowering shrubs are important structural elements in gardens and provide reliable blooms at various times of the growing season. In the fall, as our annual plants grow tired, it is helpful to have shrubs with blooms that freshen the landscape.
The caterpillars munch on the leaves of garden plants. For example, monarch caterpillars love milkweed, but the monarch adult butterflies will also be attracted to the nectar in goldenrod, thistle, cosmos and lantana.
Each spring prune off any dead canes, and fertilize monthly until august. This is a lovely informal rose bush that rewards your minimal attention to its needs, with a luxuriant and continuous display of flowers.
These are forgiving plants and they are now favorites in our autumn gardens. Most grow tall, so benefit from pinching back in spring and early summer to make them more compact.
Some of the taller varieties, such as “Autumn Joy,” “Ruby Glow,” “Matrona,” and “Vera Jameson” have attractive foliage as well as distinctive flower heads.
The cool delicacy of these flowers is a special bonus during hot summer weather. This plant’s botanical name is because of a roman actress, Lycoris, who is also remembered because she had an affair with Marc Anthony.
Although this is not substantiated, some believe that gladioli were "the lilies of the field" that Jesus spoke of in the Sermon on the Mount, for they grew wild in the Holy Land.
The plants thrive in heat, and should have good air circulation. Confine your watering to the roots only, so that the leaves don't get wet, because zinnia plants are susceptible to mildew.
Different gardeners, of course, have different sensory images of what they want to experience in their gardens. One person may wish for an oasis of tranquility, another may visualize a garden alive with birds and butterflies. We have very personal priorities for our gardens.
Goldfinches love the seed heads of the American Coneflower, which are native to our prairies and meadowlands. The most common coneflower is purplish pink with drooping daisy petals and an elevated cone in the center.
At the time of the Spanish conquest of Mexico by Cortes in 1519, the Aztecs dominated Southern North America. They were sophisticated gardeners and knew how to cultivate some of the most colorful annuals we grow today
English born, John Bartram spent more than thirty years exploring Northeast America in search of new plants. Monarda, known also as Bee Balm was one of his finds. It is a member of the mint family and spreads rapidly, but butterflies, hummingbirds and bees are grateful for this, since they find it very enticing indeed.
They tolerate dry locations in full sun and can be sheared back after blooming to encourage continued bloom. The pale lemon "moonbeam" blends well with other perennials, such as blue veronica.
To provide a contrast of shapes in your garden, you need some plants that mound and some that send up vertical spires. Tall spires of bell shaped flowers are produced by foxgloves, which belong to the genus "digitalis."
Visiting different types of gardens is a good way for us to clarify our needs and preferences. At this time of year, garden tours are offered in many communities. For example, the Bloomington Garden Walk is on June 19th and 20th and information is available at WFIU.Indiana.edu.
Known as the flower arranger's friend, lady's mantle is an easy to grow plant that will add variety to your garden.
The term "annual" refers to plants that germinate, bloom, set seed and die in a single growing season. In cold climates, for all practical purposes, the term includes any plant that will not winter over in the garden.
Many flowering plants were first cultivated because they were useful rather than decorative. They were used as medicines, sources of perfume and toilet water, and as soap substitutes, to disguise the fact that bathing was not convenient.
Learn about the English Primrose, on this Focus On Flowers.
A mature carpet of these plants is one of the most cheerful of all floral displays in a spring garden. Perhaps Ralph Waldo Emerson was thinking of such a display when he said, "The Earth laughs in flowers."
The Lenten rose is not really a rose at all, but it's flower shape reminds us of a single petaled rose with a tuft of dense short stamens in the center. The flowers change color as they age and last a long time on the plant.
"Bread is but food for the body, whereas narcissus is food for the soul."
Spring has arrived and while there is a light film of green on many shrubs and trees, yellow, demands our attention, as the Forsythia blooms. An Englishman, Sir Charles Forsyth, gave his name to this shrub. It grows in any soil and in sun or light shade. Its bright star-shaped flowers appear on bare stems, just before the leaves come out.
Everything you could ever want to know about the crocus... on this Focus on the Flowers.
Learn all about Winter Aconite's on this Moment of Science.