Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Dipping My Toe into Cut Flowers


Last winter, in the Janesville Rotary Gardens, Handsome Son proposed to his long time girlfriend. Decided years before on a group trip to those gardens, she broached the topic of getting married in the formal sunken garden there. The suggestion was more to me than Handsome Son, but he was listening. So, that's the plan. In October 2022, Handsome Son will marry the girlfriend in the Sunken Garden at Rotary. She is from the SE corner of WI, and because of the pumpkin stand she has in Elkhorn, she is often referred to as the Pumpkin Queen of Elkhorn. I have explained to Handsome Son, his only makes him Prince Consort to the Pumpkin Queen, much like the late Prince Consort of Queen Elizabeth II, but perhaps he can be Prince something or other.

With our average First Frost Date hovering around October 6, this has me in a tizzy as flowers for the event will come from my gardens. In an avalanche of succession planting, and cut-and-come-agains, along with flowers which dry well; I have a practice year to see what I can "guarantee".

Of course, there will be pumpkins, but we would like a possible huge festive array of claret colored gladiolas, some pollenless sunflowers, zinnias ('Purple Prince' and 'Queen Orange Lime' seem to be winners), and maybe some dahlias. Strawflowers seem to be an easy win and cool flowers like red and bronze snapdragons could also pull it off. "The Queen" has also suggested potted mums. And roses, so after years of not trying to grow roses (the pain and frustration), I have planted two kinds: Easy Elegance 'Champagne Wishes' and the climber 'Tess du Umberville'.

My garden is truly the most jumbled hot mess of flowers I have ever seen. It may appear glorious, but there is no rhyme nor reason to the tucking in of this plant here or there. It was literally wherever I could plant anything. Some things I have learned: 

No matter how deep you plant gladiolas, they will always tip over.

Zinnias will do better and bloom just as fast when planted from seeds versus starting them in trays.

Rabbits love sunflowers and will eat seedling to the ground.

Phlox are probably the most nefarious self-seeder of the perennial world.

Rudbeckia hirta will reliably self-seed, if you leave them standing.

Rabbits will eat liatris and lady's mantle with a passion.

Dahlias are scary slow.

Ageratums do well in a fair amount of shade.

Easy Elegance 'Chanpagne Wishes', with dead-heading, will bloom almost all summer. (We'll see about fall.)

Some flowers: strawflowers in bud, alliums, Monarda 'Lambada', and statice dry surprisingly well. Whether they hold their color for the period necessary; we'll see.

And 'The Queen" is becoming a fairly proficient gardener, because she loves flowers.

Easy Elegance 'Champagne Wishes'

Self-seeder Rudbeckia hirta