If you can’t garden outside…


Clearly I’m not able to get outside and do any cleanup with the snow and water on the ground, and likely won’t be able to do so for awhile yet.  But the indoor “nursery” has been hopping for a few weeks now.

I have roughly 200 plants in seed trays and pots right now, and I will sow another 50 or so in 3 weeks.  That’s a couple of hundred less than last year, but N and I will be in Ireland for 10 days at the end of April/first week of May (yeah! our first time there).  My brother will move into the house to tend to our various animal babies, and well as the green babies.  I didn’t want to overwhelm the poor guy!

So, here’s what’s cooking inside at the moment:


Several salvia varieties, Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’, Salvia farinacea ‘Fairy Queen’, Salvia splendens ‘Flare’ — salvia 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; ‘Victoria Blue’ 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.  This is my first year planting the other 2 varieties.  ‘Flare’ is a flaming red, so they will end up in the hot border.

Digitalis purpurea ‘Strawberry Fayre’ (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 (also known as Cottage Pinks) — in shades of pink, red and white; these work wonderfully in front of the border, and I plant them everywhere.

Echinacea purpurea (common name: coneflower) — a perennial that blooms from mid-summer into the late fall; a favorite of the bees and butterflies; and not just another pretty face, Echinacea is an excellent immune-booster.  This plant makes an appearance in many of my borders as well.  I’m a sucker for anything daisy-like.

Dahlia – varieties: ‘David Howard’ (orange with deep burgundy foliage; I love the look of this plant (see below)); ‘Thomas Edison’ (deep purple flower); ‘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).


I also have dozens of an unnamed red variety that were given to me by a local gardener that are quite spectacular.  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.


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.  I have a dickens of a time getting them to germinate inside, and usually only end up with a handful of seedlings.  They do so much better when allowed to freely self-seed outside (and I do allow them to do so), and yet, I keep trying each season to start them indoors.


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.  Another plant that doesn’t like to germinate inside for me, but a hearty “volunteer” outside.


Lathyrus odoratus (commonly known as Sweet Peas) — an annual; a 6-8′ vine with wonderfully fragrant flowers.  I’m planting several varieties this year and although I generally direct seed in early spring, I decided I would try starting some inside this year.  Even with pinching off, they’re already 5-6″ tall!  I’m growing the following varieties: ‘Chocolate Flake’, ‘Spring Sunshine Champagne’, and ‘North Shore’.  I also have a pastel mix from John Scheepers.


Cauliflower (‘Purple of Siciliy’) — an heirloom variety, beautiful, and quite tasty


Eggplant (‘Casper’) — a white eggplant (probably evident from the name) that originated in France.

Peppers (‘Autumn Bell’) – red bell pepper

Tomato (‘Thessaloniki’ and ‘Nepal’), medium sized slicing tomatoes; Tomato (‘Koralik’), cherry tomatoes for the hens and ducks (and occasionally, I even get a few).

Walla Walla (sweet yellow onion) — absolutely delicious cooked on the grill!


Agastache foeniculum (common name: Anise Hyssop) — perennial and member of the mint family.  This blooms in the summer and attracts a diverse variety of bees and butterflies.

Matricaria recutita (commonly known as German Chamomile) — a medicinal herb known for its calming properties; great in teas, but also a delightful, little daisy-like bloom.

6 thoughts on “If you can’t garden outside…

Add yours

  1. I have the same troubles with germinating cleome and hollyhocks indoors. This year I’m trying the wintersow method. I have a couple of trays out in the garage. I do appreciate the self sown ones–they’re incredibly sturdy and healthy, but sometimes, ya just have to have some to PLANT where you want them!
    So envious of your upcoming trip to Ireland. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to see it!


  2. I’d be interested in hearing if the wintersow method works for you. I’m willing to try anything at this stage!

    We’re very excited about the upcoming trip! And of course I’ll squeeze in 2 or 3 (or 4) garden visits while there 🙂


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