Saturday, March 29, 2008

Spring Fever Cure!

My friend Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden and I went to a local garden center today for a day of pure spring joy. The center was hosting an open house with seminars on plants and planting. The sessions were small and informal but filled with lots of practical information, ideas and of course plants.

Session 1 "Fun in the Garden" was hosted by a professor of ornamental horticulture at the University of Illinois. She is also the host of 'Illinois Gardener' a PBS television program in our area. She started out with a pink potted tulip which she set in a decorative wooden box. She told us she was going to use pinks and purples (her personal favorites) but any color combinations could be used. She explained the trendy "new wave" idea for gardening was to use gradations of the same colors. You can use bulbs, perennials, and annuals together as long as you repeat color, textures and habit...height and shape.

To the tulip she added a pink mandovilla on a short trellis and a Martha Washington geranium, which would be planted in the ground. She added a small silver gazing ball and suggested using a garden stone for another accent. We were slowly working our way down the planting bed. Next could come Leucanthemum Becky a Shasta daisy(one of my personal favorites!). This grows in zones 5-9 and blooms profusely in heat and humidity. The blooms are 4" across on very sturdy stems reaching to 40" tall. Cutting and deadheading encourages more blooms from mid summer to fall.
Our next plant was a pink and white variegated leafed Weigela 'My Monet'. This grows in zones 4-8, has a tighter habit with larger blooms and flowers mid spring. It reaches a height of about 20".

Still working our way down the garden, she suggested bringing in a purple. The 2008 perennial of the year, Geranium 'Rozanne'. Growing in zones 4-8, it blooms from early summer to early fall and can tolerate partial shade to full sun, and it gorgeous!
In and around these she suggested Coral Bells in varying shades. You can find them from deep purple to chartreuse. This one Heuchera 'Sashay' has ruffled leaves with dark green topsides and pale pink undersides. The rosy-mauve blooms on long slender stems grow 12-18" tall in zones 4-9. It tolerates partial shade to full sun , is drought and deer resistant and attracts butterflies and birds.

The Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' grows in zones 3-7 blooming in spring with delicate bluish flowers with leaves of apple green that turn silver as the season progresses. She suggested that the foliage on this would "pop" in with the other colors and the shape of this is similar to the weigela as it grows to about 18' tall by 18" wide.

Another beautiful plant she showed us is the Columbine Aquilegia 'Dorothy Rose'. Again a variation of the pink color. This stunning cultivar grows in zones 3-9, blooming late spring to early summer and is 24"to 30" tall by 24" wide. Rabbits do NOT like this pant but it does attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Bee Balm or Monarda 'pink supreme' is a very compact variety that butterflies and hummingbirds love! Growing in zones 4-8, it blooms from mid summer to mid fall. Although this can be an invasive plant growing in moist to wet soils, she suggest it be planted in less hospitable ground and by placing stones around it , it can be contained.

One of the last plants she talked about and this one is a purplish one, is Nepeta 'Walker's Low'. A cat mint. This was the 2007 perennial of the year and is fragrant and drought resistant. It blooms in zones 5-9 from late spring to late fall. This one could be spread out in and among the others to add more of those 'pops' of color.

I think her main theme was try unusual varieties along with the tried and true. Spice up your gardens and use garden accessories in new ways. Trade out non-blooming for newly blooming by using pots within pots. And don't be afraid to do what feels right to you.

We had 3 other sessions today on other aspects of gardening and could have attended 2 more. By the time we finished with our 4th one, we were in need of food and coffee! We did stay long enough to check out some of the spring annuals, and purchase some wire baskets. Next Sat. we are signed up for 2 more and will have time in between to go crazy... buying!


Amy said...

Taking a class like that sounds like so much fun.

Thought you'd like to know, I grow walkers low catmint here in zone 3b/4a and it is very healthy and happy. It's one of my favourite plants.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Just reading about all of these flowers gets me itching to start planting. It is too darned wet here right now.

I don't think our nurseries have flowers available yet either. I would go and at least look if I thought they did. Hmmmmmm....

Rose said...

Beckie, What fun we had! I took four pages of notes, but I think I'd better take a peek at yours, too, for some of the details I missed.
I don't have any brunnera, but after seeing hers in bloom, I am going to plant some this year.
Good thing it is still too cold to plant, or we both would have been broke by the end of the day!

Nancy J. Bond said...

Your photos are eye candy for these snow-weary eyes. :)

Cheryl said...

Lovely lovely post sound as if you and Rose had real fun.

The columbine is stunning. I havn't seen that one yet. I grow a lot here mostly the purples and I can confirm rabbits do not eat them.

Catmint is another favourite of mine and rabbits love it. It I can get it well established before they have a nibble it does well.

Another of my favourites is the cranesbill or perrenial geranium. I have pink, lilac, white and a lovely white and pale pink stripe. Rabbits leave these alone as well. They also have a long flowering period.

Are you goingto try the colour themed planting????

beckie said...

Amy, it was fun and we have another couple next Sat. Maybe by then we will be able to get in the garden!

Lisa, we wanted to buy pants yesterday in the worst way, but knew it would be several weeks before we could plant them so... Most of them were still small, but they had some exciting varieties.

Rose, some of what I posted i found out when looking up the different plants. I am definitely going to try some of them.

Nancy, it felt so good to be in the green hoses yesterday and feel the warmth and smell spring!

We did have a good time just being around plants and other gardeners. We learned of several new plants, the columbine being one of them. Isn't it stunning? I have a crane's bill, pink. But I don't think it likes where it is, may have to move it.

Mary said...

You and Rose had more than a taste of spring! Now I'm dying to get to the nurseries and spend, spend, spend!

Thanks for the tour. It's lovely, Beckie.

beckie said...

Mary, you can probably start putting plants in the ground there. We will have to wait a few weeks. Have you seen any hummingbirds yet? I have been following their progress on the migration map and they are into southern Pennsylvania!

Anonymous said...

I've starred this post for inspiration! Thanks! Thats the theme for my front garden bed and you took some of the work out of it for me!

Also, I'll be posting my own state flower information in the next few days after reading about yours!

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