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Beautiful Balsam

Last spring I started most of my garden vegetables and flower annuals from seed. We purchased a grow table from Gardeners Supply, which overall worked really well to start the seeds. I knew going into it that some of the seed experiments would be successes and some failures. I used seeds from at least 3 different companies and I also found that seeds from certain companies were more successful than others - here's one of the successes.

When we moved into our house in 2010, some beautiful purple flowers began blooming in August - they had a unique structure to them in that the blooms were nestled under the leaves. We really liked them, and my husband called them "Underflowers".  I researched and found that they were Balsam. Here's a previous blog post on those pretty purple ones. Balsam is a species of Impatiens, and they are a delightful, easy to grow annual. At first I didn't realize they were an annual, because the next couple of years they appeared as well, b…
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Busy Bees

We took a walk through the conservation land behind the house, and found that while we were taking a respite, others were very hard at work harvesting pollen from the Prairie Asters:




Such a beautiful office to work in:

Last summer's Hollyhocks

Here are some photos of last summer's (2014's) Hollyhocks. They are the same that were photographed in 2013, but they bloomed even more profusely last summer. In the grip of winter, photos of flowers like these seem like miracles.





Pink Promises

We planted three types of roses in the spring of 2011: Memorial Day hybrid tea, which are a beautiful old-fashioned pink with a lovely damask scent, Moondance floribunda, which sadly did not survive last year's brutal winter (all I have of them now is the photos), and Pink Promise hybrid tea, which really have flourished the best of the three. They have very strong thick stems and massive light pink blooms. Our roses do best in early spring and late summer, when the Japanese beetles are not active. Is there a reason why the two hybrid teas survived the winter and the floribunda did not? It could have just been the placement - maybe Moondance got slightly more wind and cold then the others. These photos were taken of the Pink Promises last fall (2014). Happy Valentine's Day!




Summer Daylilies - Peaches and Plums

While we are in the grips of winter, I thought I'd catch up on posting some photos from last summer. There were two kinds of daylilies that were particularly beautiful. The first have been on the property for a long time - before we moved in in 2010. They are peach, with yellow centers and a rosy ring in the middle. As far as my research can tell, they are "Bunny Eyes" hemerocallis. If anyone recognizes them as something else, please do comment:


There is a visitor in the photo above.

We planted the second variety, "Just Plum Happy", in the spring of 2013. They didn't bloom much that summer, but this summer they really started to flourish:



So pretty.

When you can't garden outside - grow Mushrooms!

One of the gifts we received for Christmas was a big box of fungus-filled mud - a mushroom kit from River Valley Ranch in Wisconsin. Ours was to grow white button mushrooms. We had never tried this, and it was both fun and easy. The most enjoyable part of it was being able to actually grow and harvest something in the middle of winter.
Mushrooms need no light to grow, so we set the box in our basement and followed the instructions. There are two plastic bags - the larger one at bottom, which contains the mycelium needed to grow the mushrooms, and a small bag containing the topsoil. You open the small topsoil bag and sprinkle it on top of the larger:


Store it in a slightly warmer location until the Mycelium partially grows through the topsoil. (We put ours under a heat vent)
Then move it to a cooler location, and that temperature change is what starts the mushrooms growing.
 And they grow...
 and grow...
and grow, until I truly understood the meaning of the verb "to mushroom"…

Hollyhocks

Cottage garden flowers are so delightful, and I've been wanting to add more and more. I planted some Hollyhocks from seed on the east and west sides of the house last Spring. The West side hollyhocks were "double" Hollyhocks, and the East side are the traditional ones. The West side gets much more intense sunlight so the double ones really grew strong, and so much more beautiful than I could have imagined. They are still blooming profusely. They look like crepe ballgowns for fairies. The seed package showed shades of pink - ranging from white to dark red. The two colors that bloomed were a bubblegum pink and a fuscia.

Just as I thought the bubblegum pink ones couldn't get any prettier, the centers became yellower as the summer went on.