It’s a chilly, blustery Sunday morning, the woodstove is roaring, the dogs are napping at my feet, and the bread is baking in the oven. I’m feeling in a leisurely mood, so since my initial plan was to use this blog as my online gardener’s journal, let’s review what’s growing in my indoor nursery at the moment, shall we?
I have roughly 200 plants in seed trays and pots right now, with another 100 due to be sown in 3 weeks. That may sound like a bit, but in the expanse of our landscape, they will barely make a dent – believe me. I’ve been planting non-stop for heading into my 5th year here and I still have way too much lawn.
So, here’s what’s cooking:
Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’ — this is a perennial in zones 8 and up, but treated as an annual in our neck of the woods since it won’t overwinter; will tolerate poor soils and some drought; has a deep blue flower (and it’s a true blue, which is rare) and blooms from June through the 1st frost. I use it as a filler in the mixed borders, as a butterly attractor, and simply because I love the color.
Digitalis purpurea (common name: Foxglove) — biennial and prolific self-seeder; quintessential cottage garden flower; comes in shades of pink, purples and white; I have many purple varieties already in the garden; this one happens to be the Strawberry Foxglove variety; they are attractive to bees, butterflies and certain birds.
Dianthus barbatus (also known as Sweet William or Pinks) — also considered a cottage garden flower; they look like tiny carnations and come in a variety of colors — shades of pink, red and white; these work wonderfully in front of the border.
Echinacea purpurea (common name: coneflower) — a perennial that blooms from mid-summer into the late fall; a favorite of the bees and butterflies; a not just another pretty face, Echinacea is an excellent immune-booster.
Dahlia – varieties: David Howard (orange with deep burgundy foliage; I love the look of this plant (see below)); Wizard of Oz (pale pink with a pom-pom blossom similar to the David Howard; White Flower Farm shipped this in error, so I thought I would give it a try); Worton Blue Streak (actually lavender in color, rather than the blue that the name suggests); Kelvin Floodlight (a huge pale yellow flower — seriously, each flower is 8-10″ wide). Dahlias will not overwinter here, but I dig up the tubers after the first hard freeze kills off the foliage and store them in the basement. I replant them in pots in March and by the time we’ve had (hopefully) our last freeze in mid to late May, they’re ready to go back into the ground outside.
Crocosmia Lucifer is a show-stopper; a brilliant, fiery red with deep green, blade-like foliage; it’s hardy up to zone 5, and I’ve had no luck overwintering it outside. I’m going to baby these few I’m growing from seed, probably grow them in containers for the next couple of years, and bring the bulbs inside for the winter.
Hollyhock — it is, of course, impossible to have a cottage garden without hollyhocks (the old-fashioned, single bloom variety); I adore them and have them in a variety of colors — pinks, burgundy, white and yellows; they are biennial, self-seeders and you’ll have volunteers popping up all over the garden if you leave them to their own devices; they look marvelous planted at the back of the border, and against walls and fences.
Hesperis matronalis (commonly known as Sweet Rocket or Dame’s Rocket) — a perennial that blooms in May; it can grow 3-4′ tall and produces pale purple flowers; the foliage gets a bit ratty looking post bloom, so I put this at the back of the border; butterflies love it.
Campanula persicifolia (common name: peach-leaved Bellflower) — self-seeding perennial that form foliage clumps out of which shoot 12″ stalks with delightful, little bell-shaped flowers in either white or purple; good for in the front or middle of a mixed border.
Campanula medium (common name: Canterbury Bells) — this is my first time growing this biennial, it can reach 2-3′ tall; flower colors come in pink, white, and purples; also considered a staple of cottage gardens
Echinops ritro (common name: small Globe thistle) — a perennial that is very attractive to butterflies; it grows 2-3′ tall with a deep purple flower and gray-green foliage.
Cleome (also knows as spider plant) — annual — predominantly in shades of pink or white, in a good year, the plants can tower up to 6′ tall.
Myosotis (commonly known as Forget-Me-Nots) — self-sowing biennial, they can produce masses of pale blue flowers with yellow centers if allowed to freely self-seed and can create a spectacular, early spring show; they prefer shade, so are perfect for under shrub and tree planting; butterflies love them.
Sweet peas — an annual; a 6-8′ vine with wonderfully fragrant flowers
Cauliflower (‘Purple of Siciliy’) — an heirloom variety and quite tasty
Eggplant (‘Casper’) — a first for the garden this year; a white eggplant (probably evident from the name) that originated in France.
Peppers (red and yellow varieties); Leeks; Tomato (‘Thessaloniki’) — medium sized slicing tomato; and Tomato (‘Koralik’), cherry tomatoes for the hens and ducks.
Thyme; Lavender Hidcote; Lemon balm; Chamomile; Chives