Wednesday, May 21, 2014

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I love fresh flowers in my house, but I hate paying for them. Slowly but surely we are planting all the kinds of flowers I like to have handy to take for cuttings in our garden. I stumbled across this list of plants to keep for cuttings and added a few of my own.

Peonies are a must! I really LOVE peonies!  I planted 6 bushes 3 years ago, but this year will be the first year I have been around to see their blooms, I am usually visiting my sister around this time of year. I can't wait! I love them just as they are in a vase or I've used them to garnish an ugly cake! They took it from sad and frumpy to beautiful and elegant! They're are also one of the easiest plants to take care of! I've planted white, light pink, dark pink, and red, but I saw some peach peonies that are to die for at the garden store this week. I'm saving my pennies so I can add some of those beauties! (Got'em! They were a little over half off because the blooms were already spent, but for me that's the best time to buy :-))

I only got two blooms my first spring, but they were beautiful!

They were the first to bloom. I expect to have many more next year! I had fun using what I had :-)

I planted 5 of mine from bulbs. They barely greened up the first year, no blooms. Two of them didn't do anything at all. I thought that I had bombed it. I planted mine at the end of the season when the bulbs were 75 percent off. I was thrilled the next year when they all came back! The two that hadn't thrived the year before didn't bloom that year, but they are full of beautiful buds this year! The 6th peony plant came in a pot at the end of the summer and had dead blooms on it. I can't help myself, I love a good clearance price, and I don't mind nursing something back to health or waiting a year. They are doing beautifully this year! My daughter took this picture last spring, but aren't they beautiful!

They're just baby buds right now.

Just two days later!

and several days later :)

I sprayed these for bugs and let them sit outside for a while before bringing them inside. They've been inside for a little over 24 hours and I can't believe the smell! My whole kitchen smells like a beautiful floral! I have to admit I never realized how great peonies smell!

I planted these soft pink peonies specifically to go in Madelaine's room. The little sewing table is definitely going to get a makeover!

I just love the delicate color!

I love my peonies!

One of my other favorites (well, let's be honest, they're all my favorites!) is snow ball bushes! I love snow balls, mostly because they are one of the first indicators that spring is coming. They are one of the first plants to green up and one of the first to flower. I also love that they grow like a weed! They don't spread, but they grow fast and furious and are covered in hundreds of beautiful little hydrangea like flowers. You can grow them super tall, or keep them hedge like. We planted tiny baby bushes and they have easily over doubled each year. My kids like to have "snow ball fights". They also seem to do well in poor soil where other things don't thrive, and can handle plenty of sun or "too much" shade. I planted mine in an overly shady spot and I've noticed that they have more blooms in full sun, but I'm not complaining, as you can see by this picture mine are still covered in more blooms than I can handle!

Box Woods! We planted 7 of these when we first moved into our house as a means of landscaping our front yard, but I hadn't thought to use them as cuttings until I stumbled on that list of plants to keep for cuttings. I think we snuck a couple of branches for Christmas projects, but I've never filled a vase before.. until now! I think they are beautiful mixed with the white roses.

Roses are an easy call! I planted the white knock out bushes also for landscaping the front yard and I LOVE how full they always are, ( these are just getting started! You can see all the clusters of multiple buds waiting to bloom.) but they're not the best for cutting. For cuttings it's better to plant the long stemmed varieties, and thornless if you can! We've got several varieties of pink in the back yard just for cuttings, but they haven't bloomed yet :(. I get so very impatient in the spring! I'll have to take a pic and add it later!)

Here are the first two blooms of the pink roses, I haven't made a bouquet yet because I'm still waiting for them to bloom in full force. 

 Tulips are another definite favorite! A good tip for tulips is to plant a mix of early spring, mid spring, and late spring for a continuous showing of beautiful blooms! I love to fill Mason Jars with them and set them on bedroom dressers or fill up large vases and set them on my kitchen table or coffee table. They are beautiful no matter where you put them, and can cheer up any room!

I took this when I was getting ready for our super hero teacher appreciation week, but those tulips are from our back yard. They were on their way out but I still think they are beautiful!

Lilac! The best thing about having lilac bushes is definitely the smell! It's just wonderful. At the right time of day I can walk out in the back yard and the whole yard is just fragrant with them. My youngest daughter has a purple room and that is my favorite place to keep a vase of Lilac. Purple also happens to be her favorite color! The only downside is that it doesn't stay in bloom for long, but the bushes are pretty and have a nicely shaped leaf.
The branches also grow in kind of a cool twisty way, so when you are pruning you can save your branches to make decorative vases of sticks like this

Or spray paint them black for halloween!

Or put twinkle lights on them. The possibilities are endless!

One of my very first flower loves was the hydrangea. When I was little we lived in Japan and we had blue bushes that towered over me. I spent hours playing in the hydrangea bushes. As an adult I can't get enough of them! Pink, blue, White, I love them all. I love them by them selves or mixed with roses in a vase. I always love doing an all white bouquet, but I also love mixing the lime lights (bright green), with the regular whites, and some red or dark pink roses. They're just beautiful! For a great link on how to turn your hydrangeas pink or blue click here.

But basically Garden Lime turns them pink and Soil Acidifier turns them blue. Makes me think of sleeping beauty! Make it Pink, no blue, no pink, no blue...., :)

Lavender is a new favorite, mostly because my honey bees really like it, but I am looking forward to filling vases with it and adding it to soaps and other crafts. There are several varieties of lavender, but a great producer is English Lavender. I love the way the French Lavender looks and smells, but it is mainly for ornamental purposes. You won't get a lot of cuttings from it. Spanish lavender is also quite lovely to look at. I also have a weakness for lavender lemonade! It's delicious! We usually make ours with some store bought lavender, but with the 6 lavender plants we inherited after my sister in law's wedding and the other lavender plants I have been collecting for my bees I am looking forward to being able to make it with our own lavender!

What are some of your favorites?

For a great recipe for Lavender Lemonade CLICK HERE

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