Tag Archives: zinnia

Cheerful and Bright Zinnia Bed

Last year, my friend Susan described to me how she grows a beautiful hedgerow of zinnias every year by collecting the seed heads in the fall (Fall Seed Gathering Means Beautiful Summer Zinnias).

I thought I’d give it a try this spring, so I collected all the zinnia heads from my garden last fall.

I left them in a bag over the winter on the porch and this spring crumbled up the dry seed heads to release all the seeds. No need to separate the seeds from the rest of the smaller plant material.

This spring, when the soil temperature was warm enough (usually not until after Mother’s Day here at my zone 5 home) I planted the overwintered seeds in a bare spot in the front garden that just needed some color. Just sprinkle out the seed mixture in thick rows or mat. Zinnias are definitely picky about temperature, so don’t start too early. (The dug-up plant on the left? A random daylily that was really out of place after a bunch of landscaping changes. It got replanted up at the WI cabin.)

Then I waited. I was surprised at how fast the seeds germinated, and by early July I had a beautiful, welcoming splash of color.

They’ve been blooming beautifully all summer, and the Durango Outback marigolds (Johnny’s Seeds) and Annabelle hydrangeas are perfect companions. I think the marigolds will be perfect candidates to try this seeding method with next spring.

Durango Outback Marigold

I did try this seeding method this year with snapdragons. They germinated and grew really nicely, but for some reason haven’t flowered very well.

Maybe because they’re in a planter, or maybe it needed more fertilizer, or the seeds didn’t overwinter properly? Funny thing though, they seem to have grown just great in our fire pit where I must have tossed some “waste”.

I will be definitely be collecting all the seeds heads again this fall!

 

Last Remnants of a Gorgeous Fall

This has been quite an unusual fall for many of us.  Seems like the winter was in no hurry to arrive, so we’ve been treated to one of the warmest and longest falls in a long time.  With that, many trees are still showing colors and many plants in my garden are still going strong.  All this is going to come to a screeching halt tonight as we drop from almost 70 this morning to the 30’s overnight.  Yikes!

Until then, here’s  some of what’s still been going strong in my garden.

Tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, hot and sweet peppers and hardy herbs are still there for the picking.

stephi gardens

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hot peppers

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Even the heat loving zinnias are still hanging in there!  Their colors are blending beautifully with the fall garden colors.  I think after today, I’ll be dead heading them for next year (Fall Seed Gathering Means Beautiful Summer Zinnias).  If you look closely behind the zinnias, you can see the fall garlic shoots indicating next year’s garlic harvest.

zinnias

Despite the abundance of fallen leaves, the geraniums aren’t looking like they’re ready to be done anytime soon.

geranium

The cosmos are still blooming strong.  But, the hydrangeas behind them are ready to add winter interest to the garden.

cosmo

The Victoria Blue Salvia is in the same bed as the cosmo.  Usually this area is all salvia, but due to a mix up (well my mix up) when I ordered the annuals from a local plant sale, I didn’t actually buy any this year.  These are self seeded from last year and added a nice splash of purple to the pink of the cosmo.

cosmo

While the Purple Beautyberry bush (Callicarpa x NCCX1) is expected to look great this time of year, I thought I’d add it since it’s a fairly new shrub and thankfully doing great!  I can’t get enough of those fall purple berries and each year I’ve had more.

purple beautyberry bush

How’s your garden been this fall?

After Vacation

Stephi Gardens

After a wonderful beach vacation and some college tours, we’re finally back home. As expected, the weather has been crazy while we were gone. The temperatures were just about average, but rainfall was almost double the normal amount. Included in this total was a single storm that dumped almost 2 inches of rain in under 2 hours and knocked out our power for almost 15 hours. Nothing like being on vacation and getting the call that the basement is flooded. Thank goodness for friends who went above and beyond to help.

So how did the garden fare? Quite well actually. With the fairly constant rain and average temperatures (and in some cases even a bit below average), I came home to a bit of a jungle. The last few years, by July we’ve been struggling with hot/dry conditions and the plants begin struggling. Not this year! I think I’ve had the sprinklers on once and that was just to test the system. Here’s some after vacation shots…

Many of the flowers are in full bloom and flourishing with the moderate temperatures and plenty of rain.  Although, I did miss most of the asiatic lily’s blooms.  They are mostly finished for the season.

zinnia

Notice how beautiful the creeping thyme looks (Problems with Creeping Thyme).  Still waiting for the hummingbirds to find my flowers and feeder.

Stephi Gardens

The Purple Rooster Bee Balm is still blooming and attracting bees.   But now the accompanying Jackmanii Clematis and Pardon Me daylilies are also blooming.

Stephi Gardens

 

Stephi Gardens

 

daylilies and Russian sage

With all the rain , this garden is doing well despite the change from full shade to full sun.

annabelle hydrangea

The sunflowers have become gigantic!  Before we left they were probably only about 4 ft tall (see Before Vacation), now they are easily 7 ft-8 ft and attracting lots of bees.

sunflowers

The vegetable gardens are flourishing, but need some attention to prune back some of the wildness.

Stephi Gardens

 

Stephi Gardens

I have a nice bunch of bush beans to harvest.

bush beans

The lettuce is still hanging in there. My idea to plant them in the partly shady corner of the garden has paid off.

lettuce

First time for cabbage and they’re looking great.

cabbage

Cucumbers were slow to get going, but I’ll have plenty soon enough.

cucumber

Zucchini and summer squash are plentiful.  Hoping to get some small tender ones harvested before they turn into baseball bats (see Giant Zucchini).  Somehow I’ve lost the garden markers labelling the squash varieties, so it’s a bit of a mystery what all the different squashes are.

zucchini

So, overall, I’d say everything fared pretty well this year (definitely better than the basement).   Looking forward to the continued blooms and vegetable harvests!

Me and my giant sunflowers!

sunflowers

Before Vacation

It’s always tough to go leave the garden and go on vacation.  It seems like something (or everything) is ready to just burst out in color or ripen just in time to go away. Or the weather can you throw you a curve ball and get crazy hot/cold or dry/wet. Very unpredictable. I assumed this year was no different, so right before we left I had my daughter Emily take some pictures to do a little before and after.

Some of the flowers were already in full bloom and likely will be past peak before we get back…

asian lily

 


yarrow

 

Bee balm

 

daylilies

Some were ready to bloom and I can only hope I don’t miss the show…

Stephi Gardens

 

Stephi Gardens

 

marigolds

 

Jackmanii clematus

The vegetables were flourishing.  The cooler weather vegetables were starting to show signs of stress and looking ready to bolt, but still fine to harvest for a little while longer.  Peppers, squash and beans were almost ready, so my friend who is helping with dog sitting and plant watering should get some treats.  I’d hate for them to go to waste and there’ll be plenty more.  Tomatoes are growing like gang-busters, but not expecting any ripe ones quite yet.

Stephi Gardens

 

lettuce

 

summer squash

 

Stephi Gardens

Vacations are always a little tricky to be sure everything stays healthy in the garden.  Right before we left for almost 2 weeks, I gave everything a watering with Miracle-Gro fertilizer and dead-headed everything that would benefit from it.  I set the sprinkler to try and optimize waterings, and had a friend also check on things and keep the pots watered.  I also tried to be sure the plants that needed staking were supported so things wouldn’t be too out of hand when I got back.

How do your gardens fare when you go on vacation?

Uh Oh, Frost in MI Last Night

Last night the temperature at my mom Peggy’s house was predicted to get down to the low 30’s.  That means frost was a real possibility. If you saw her gardens in my post a couple of days ago (Gardening: All in the Family), you know her plants are well underway and many not able to survive a first.  So what to do?

Every plant has its own tolerance to cold.  Zinnias, Impatiens, Petunias?  Forget it, they like it warm.  Cold weather vegetables, strawberries, perennials?  Maybe leaves and flowers damaged initially, but they’ll be just fine.  The seed packet or container tag will give you some insight into what they can tolerate.  When in doubt, cover them.

garden frost

If you know that the plants are likely to be damaged by an overnight frost, you need to cover them with a sheet or blanket.  My mom has a whole collections of sheets just for this purpose.  By tenting the sheets over the garden, it creates a warm air pocket around the plants.  If it’s thought to be colder than a light frost, you can add a a layer of plastic over the blanket to trap even more warm air (never right on the plants).  Be sure to remove the coverings first thing in the morning before condensation starts to form on the inside.  If still cold enough, the moisture could freeze on the plants and cause harm as well.  An actual freeze requires even more elaborate weather protection, or you may just need to sigh and start over.

Then say a little prayer and hope for the best.  Peggy’s plants looked good this morning.  It did get down to 31°, but warmed up quickly once the sun came up.  Hopefully that’s it for the cold weather.

Sunday Feature: Peggy’s Pix of the Week

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Butterfly Weed

Butterfly Weed

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Michigan Lily

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Coneflower

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Coreopsis

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Zinnia

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