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Garden Catalog Time

The seed and plant catalogs start appearing in the mail in January. By the middle of February, it's time to place the orders. This year our seed order is a little over $100, and the plants, including trees and shrubs, is just under $300. The seeds are mostly for the vegetable garden and for annual flowers. The plant order includes some shrub roses. This place definitely could use more roses.

Most of the annual flower seeds come from Park. We started with Cosmos Cosmic Yellow, a bright yellow double Cosmos for the garden. Every year we grow several rows of Cosmos, Marigolds, and Zinnias in the vegetable garden, primarily to attract butterflies. Cosmos withstands most pests and thrives during hot, dry weather. Most varieties are tall, and tend to fall over late in the year. Cosmic is a shorter variety that might stand up better.

We also like to grow a row of fancy sunflowers. The birds scatter the seed around in the fall, and we get some really neat wild sunflowers growing around the place. This year we're trying a new variety of sunflower called Joker. It has two rings of petals colored with bands of red and yellow. The inner ring of petals is tufted which should make for some interesting flowers. We also will plant a variety called Monet. This is Kansas, and it's proper to have fancy sunflowers.

Gaillardia, sometimes called Blanket Flower, is a dependable perennial with flowers in shades of brick red touched with yellow. This year we are trying a new variety called Painter's Palette, which will produce plants with flowers in burgundy, clear reds and clear yellows.

We always need lots of bedding plants: nice compact little plants that can fill a space in a flowerbed. Sweet Alyssum is one of my favorites. It smells great, especially late in the year when almost all of the other flowers are gone. I'm planting a variety called Snow Crystals this year. For larger spaces, I growing an ornamental Kale called Red Nagoya. For odd corners I'm growing Viola tricolor Cuty, a variety of Johnny-Jump-Up that has more yellow than blue. I have a black variety already growing in various nooks and crannies around the house. For blue colors, I'll start Blue Lagoon Ageratum. It is a low, compact plant that can take a lot of heat and sun. I ordered Malva Zebrina, a perennial that looks like miniature lavender hollyhocks, and an annual hollyhock called Summer Carnival to plant around the chicken yard and in front of the barn.

The rest of the seed order was made up mostly of perennials, including Festuca glauca, a low blue clump grass that likes shade, and Miscanthus sinensis, a tall ornamental grass that likes sun. I've been trying to grow carnations for some time. This year I'm trying a variety called Monarch, which is supposed to be very hardy, and it's cousin, Dianthus Zing Rose. There are a few other odds and ends that I wanted to try, and a dozen Gladiolus bulbs to add to those we already have for cut flowers.

Paula makes up the garden seed order, and she likes to order the bulk of her seed from Henry Field's. I won't attempt to reproduce it here, but I will comment on a few things. We've been raising Sweet Mama winter squash for years. They don't produce every year, but when they do they're great. We'll also plant Table Queen Acorn squash and Spirit Bush Hybrid Pumpkin. Yukon Gold potatoes look like they are already soaked with butter, keep well, and have produced well for us for the last few years.

From J. E. Miller Nursery we ordered twelve plants: 2 Black Currants, 6 Chester Thornfree Blackberry, 2 Lapins Sweet Cherry, and 2 Gala Apples. Not very many Sweet Cherries are reliable around here and Lapin is supposed to be extra hardy. The Gala Apples are on super dwarfing rootstock and won't grow over eight feet high. We're thinking about putting them in the front yard.

The majority of the plants will come from Mellinger's. I ordered 10 Crimson Pygmy Barberries, and ten standard size Red-leafed Barberries. The standards Barberries are replacing the Russian Olives along the drive. The Crimson Pygmy plants will go around the rainbow bed in the front yard. Russian Olives don't live very long around here. I'm ordering a couple more along with a couple of Autumn Olive to plant in openings in the woods. They smell great when in bloom and birds like the berries. For down near the creek, I ordered a dwarf Red Buckeye, two Red Birch, and a FanTail Willow.

From Wayside Gardens I ordered three roses. Alba Meidiland is a trailing white rose that can be used as a ground cover. I plan to use it on the south side of the highway berm. The other two, Yves Piaget and Tamora, are shrub roses for front yard use. Both are noted for the fragrance.

Actually, there's a lot more than this. I ordered some tiny dwarf evergreen trees for bonsai type stuff, and several ground covers to try. I'm also trying several different kinds of ornamental grasses. Don't ask me where all of this stuff is to go, if the plants are on hand then I will be more likely to find locations for them.

When I told Paula what I was writing her response was, "What for?" Good question. If you have read it this far, perhaps you might have an idea as to why I wrote it. If so, let me know.



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