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Posts Tagged ‘zinnias’

Many Plants Re-seed And That Can Be A Good Thing

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The Snapdragons in these pots are volunteers from last years plants.

Since I’d never grown Snapdragons before last summer, I had no idea what a wonderful plant it is. Not only is it pretty, and the kids like to make the dragon’s mouth open, but it re-seeds freely. This year I planted lots and lots and next year I hope to have them filling in everywhere.

I did learn that there are taller varieties that grow to 3′ – 4′, and that would determine where they should go in the garden. I have some of both in my garden.

The other plants that I know re-seed, at least here in zone 6, are Hollyhocks, Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons, and sometimes Zinnias. I’m sure there are others, those are just the ones I know of.


Gardening Perks


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Yellow lilies in front yard

An unexpected thing I enjoy about our garden is getting to talk to so many people as they pass by, some strolling, some on bikes and many in cars. We live on a corner just off Main Street in our little town of about 40,000 and so it feels like we live in Mayberry, with so many friendly people. Anyway, one day a man walking his dog stopped to talk and was telling me how much he appreciated me putting the names by the plants so passersby could know what they were. I told him I hadn’t thought about the people passing by, I was just trying to remember the names of plants and what was planted where.

I moved out here to the West almost 3 years ago and even though I’d gardened for such a long time in the south (zones 7 & 8), there were so many plants out here (zone 5b/6a and elevation ca.5000′) that I’d never heard of and didn’t recognize. Really, there were very few of the ones I was use to growing that would grow out here. So if you think you have to know a lot to be a gardener, then I’m living proof that you don’t. I started reading a lot, I now have 154 gardening books (I just counted out of curiosity), almost all second hand. I like to be able to look up anything I need to know about. I do use the internet a lot but I get a lot of help from books.

Back to the names on the plants…I use metal wire stakes with a metal plate to write on. They work great for helping me to remember the plant name and to mark the spot where it’s planted so in the spring when I’m looking for places to put new plants I’ll know that place is reserved for something that will be coming up soon.

When I have spaces to fill I like to plant annuals that have plenty of blooms to use and share, like Cosmos and Zinnias, which can grow quite tall if they’re happy. Last year I had a profusion of blooms along the sidewalk outside the picket fence on the South side  of our yard (our house faces West) and large areas covered in blooms inside the fence.I try to get everyone to come and cut bouquets from the zinnias and cosmos because it encourages more blooms and it makes people happy.

One afternoon as I was sitting on a little stool weeding by the front sidewalk a little girl, about 8 years old, came riding by on her bike and stopped to talk. She gave me one of my favorite compliments when she said, “Your yard looks like a flower forest.”

How could I not like that?

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Cosmos by sidewalk on south side of house

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Lavender and daisies in front yard by grape vines.

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by Eliza Osborn

Flowers For Cutting – Vases of Flowers Everywhere

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Cut flowers from garden to be used in arrangements


Isn’t it too bad that cut flowers are so expensive?

Wouldn’t it be nice to have vases of color all over the house?

Well, actually, you can. If you have a few packets of seeds, and a little plot of ground that gets plenty of sunshine, then you can grow  your own flowers for cutting.

This winter, when you’re looking through all those catalogs (see post “Have You Ordered Your Gardening Catalogs?  and planning your garden, be sure to carve out a space for your cutting garden. I use my whole garden as a cutting garden, but some gardeners like to have a patch set aside just for cutting.

Clear the ground of grass and weeds. Dig and turn the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches. If  your soil doesn’t drain well or isn’t fertile enough, add some composted manure (available in bags at Lowe’s: and mix in well. Level out the top of the soil and plant the seeds. You can plant in rows, with the taller plants at the back so they won’t shade the shorter plants, or you can plant in squares or groupings of each kind of flower. To plant annuals, I put the seeds down and sprinkle more soil on top. Tamp down the soil with a hoe to make sure the seeds make good contact with the soil. Keep the area moist (not wet) until the seeds germinate and have a couple of leaves.  Then water deeply every 3-4 days. As the plants mature and the roots go deeper, water deeply weekly. Soon you’ll have plenty of flowers to cut for your own use and to share with family and friends. Most annuals improve with cutting because it encourages more blooms.

Some of the flowers listed below are perennials (plants that come up year after year), and can be planted from seeds but many are planted as seedlings, which give them a head start in the garden. Some of the flowers listed below are from bulbs that will come up year after year.

Some Of My Favorite Cutting Flowers

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Cut flowers from the yard, annuals and perennials

  •  Zinnias
  • Cosmos
  • Centranthus (Jupiter’s Beard)
  • Companula (Canterbury Bells)
  • Bachelor Buttons (Corn Flower)
  • Scabiosa (Pin Cushion Flower)
  • Marigolds
  • Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco)
  • Salvia
  • Rudbekia (Black-eyed Susan)
  • Agastache
  • Dahlias
  • Gaillardia
  • Gypsophilia (Babies’ Breath)
  • Coreopsis
  • Sunflower
  • Cleome
  • Asters
  • Japanese Anemones
  • Snapdragon
  • Bee Balm
  • Lilies
  • Larkspur
  • Liatris
  • Phlox
  • Tulips
  • Iris
  • Daffodils
  • Peonies
  • Delphiniums
  • Foxgloves
  • Lavender
  • Echinacea (Purple Cone Flower)
  • Roses (a shrub, but great for cut flowers)
  • Hydrangeas (a shrub, but great for cut flowers)


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For more information and pictures of these blooming plants check out these posts:


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Peonies, roses, Jupiter's Beard and irises (with black Iris)















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Where Do Bees Sleep?

sleeping bee on zinnia

Bee Sleeping In Zinnia

Since we’ve kept beehives before, I know that bees try to make it back to the hive before it gets dark. I’ve heard that some don’t make it and have to find a place to take refuge till the next day. Other bees, not honey bees, must have a place they gather to at night. Bumble bees, those big yellow and black ones, like to curl up in flowers (especially zinnias), or at least the ones who don’t make it home for the night.

When I’m cutting flowers to bring in, I like to cut them early in the morning so they’ll stay fresh longer. I’ve learned that I’d better check the flower really well when I’m cutting because many of them are serving as motels to bumble bees. I’ve never seen any other kind of bee sleeping in any of my flowers but bumble bees are a common sight, and let me say too that they are pretty late sleepers, like till 10:00 if it’s cool out.

So, watch what you’re pickin’.

Bumble Bee still asleep at 10:00 A.M.

bumble bee on zinnia

Zinnia with sleeping bumble bee











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by Eliza Osborn

Gather Those Seeds While Ye May

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Hollyhocks grown from seed

This should be titled “Confessions of a Seed Gatherer” since I am about to spill some of my secrets. I can’t even remember when it began but I have gathered flower seeds from just about everywhere. That’s why about this time of year I start taking little plastic baggies in my purse in case I gain access to flowers that have gone to seed….where ever I happen to be. I’ve gotten some mystery seeds from walks in the mountains and in the woods. It’s fun to plant those and see what happens.

I’ve gathered them from my own flowers too of course. Our first year in this house I bought 2 or 3  packets of Zinnias and 1 pack of Bachelor Buttons for little beds I’d created by the sidewalk on the side of our house. That fall I had a 1 gallon bag of Bachelor Button seeds and 6 gallon bags of zinnia seeds, both of which I shared. I doubt I will ever have to buy zinnia seeds again.

As the flowers mature you can either cut and use them or leave some for seeds. The petals will turn brown and crispy and then I just snip the whole dead flower into a large metal bowl or pan and spread them out to dry thoroughly. When dry just rub the seeds from the center core, seal up in airtight bags, label and store.

A mistake that’s easy to make though is to sew the seeds too thickly the next year just because you have so many. I did that with the Bachelor Buttons and they came up and grew but were so thick there weren’t many blooms. Just way too much competition for those roots I guess.

Hollyhocks, cosmos, marigolds, and so many others set seeds that you can gather and use year after year. They keep amazingly well if they don’t get too hot but they have to stay dry. Freezing doesn’t hurt them either, I keep mine in the potting shed, which in the dead of winter here is always frozen.

Don’t be limited by your own yard boundaries, check with friends, even strangers if they have pretty flowers. I’m pretty sure they’ll be happy to share. It’s surely an economical way of having a lot of blooming plants in your yard.

I should also add that you can also gather vegetable seeds IF they aren’t hybrids, which will produce mystery plants, not true to the vegetable you grew. Hey, that might be fun too.


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by Eliza Osborn

Our Garden Gate
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