Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bee Balm

Bee Balm (Monarda), also known as Bergamot is a great plant for a perennial garden. A plant I had never heard of until I moved to Minnesota, I have found it to be quite striking in the garden. Not only are there varying colors, but also varying heights, so a plant can work in any sunny or partial sun garden.

I have found that Bee Balm only works in certain parts of my garden. Go figure. It doesn't always grow according to the directions. My east garden which gets all day sun refuses to let them live. I have red "Jacob Cline" growing around my bird feeders (see below), which gets more shade than sun, and it does great. It was picked because its height hides all the seeds and the metal posts of the feeders.

"Jacob Cline"

Another color of Bee Balm (pinkish red) grows in my west garden bed which gets all day sun. My friend game me the plant and it readily reseeds on it's own so I have to pull up volunteer plants every spring (you can see it spread out in the photo below). But that's OK, I love the plant...and it look great with the Coreopsis and Daisies.

West Garden Bed

The good news for gardeners in Minnesota is that the plant does well in clay soil!

Purple Bee Balm

It's also deer and rabbit resistant, and attracts hummingbirds and bees. And the leaves make a great tea, or so I've been told.

Light Lavender Bee Balm

Monday, July 6, 2015

Zinnia's - A Great Summer Annual

I'm a sucker for red. If I see it in a store, I bee-line to it because honestly, red is not the most available color for flowers. For the last few summers, I have been planting short, red Dahlias in a back garden bed. I love them, but this year I didn't get to the local garden center in time to get the quantity I need, which is usually 20+. They're also not cheap.

Looking for something else, I came across these Scarlet Zinnias. The color is perfect, and they're short too. If I can find them again next year, I do believe this is my new go-to annual.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bittersweet Nightshade - Minnesota Wildflower

I was jogging down a local nature path recently when I flash of purple caught my eye. It should be no surprise that I am constantly looking along paths I travel for any new wildflowers to discover. This one was very small so I made a note of its location and came back a few hours later with my camera.

Known as Bittersweet Nightshade, this dainty flower is easily identified by its five dark purple flowers with pointed yellow center, and sits on a weak vine. It flowers from May to September, with green berries eventually ripening to varying shades of red. Another common name for this wildflower is Deadly Nightshade, as it is toxic. While not fatal, it can harm young children if the berries are eaten in any quantity.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Columbine, an Elegant Plant for Any Garden

Columbine is one of those plants that you love to watch emerge from the dreary winter. It is a spring perennial and usually the first to bloom.The beautiful pink one pictured below is in a semi-shade garden growing among ferns and Bleeding Hearts. It is also a wild flower that you can find along the edge of woodland areas.


The plants are available in a variety of sizes and hybrid colors. I have tried about 5 different types in my garden, but only one has survived. Unfortunately, it's not where I planted it but about 5 feet away. Thus, I'm not sure what the name of it is exactly. It is the one pictured below and sits in full sun. Last year it was quite small, but this year it is 2 feet tall and the flowers have been blooming for at least two weeks. Notes on the plant say they only last 2-3 years, but can spread via seeds. Who knows, a few years from now, it could move again!

It seems that for the Minnesota Garden, Columbine is best grown in full sun.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Beautiful Plant, Not so Pretty Name - Lungwort

One of the first things I do when I visit my mother-in-law is to walk around her gardens to see what is blooming. A few years ago, I noticed a beautiful purple and pink flowered plant with very interesting leaves. When I asked her what it was, I crinkled my nose at the name. Who could have given this stunner such an awful name?

Ok, so its name is actually Pulmonaria, which doesn't sound that name bad, but most people call it Lungwort because the spotted leaves resemble lungs, and it was known in the old days for helping with coughs and lung diseases (now we know better). No matter though. It's so pretty I just couldn't resist taking a few home for my garden when some volunteer plants were given to me.

A shade plant great for zone 4, it flowers early and can have multi-colored blooms. It does need some moisture so make sure to keep in a shady spot that doesn't dry out too bad. Mine gets a little filtered sun in the late afternoon because it sits under a Pinky Winky Hydrangea, and it does quite well.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Upcoming Plant Sales

Minnesotans are getting antsy to start digging around in their gardens. I've already started dividing and moving some plants, and wondering what to replace for those that have died. Here are a few upcoming plant sales you might be interested in:
  • May 8,9,10, Minnesota State Fair Grandstand, Friends School Plant Sale
  • May 9,10, Minnesota Arboretum, Auxilary Spring Plant Sale
  • May 12-13, Anoka Amory, 408 E. Main St., Master Gardener Plant Sale
  • May 16, Dakota County Fairgrounds, Farmington, Master Gardener Plant Sale
  • May 16, Ramsey County Extension Barn, 2020 White Bear Ave, St. Paul, Master Gardener Plant Sale
  • May 16, Hopkins Pavilion, 11000 Excelsior Blvd, Hopkins, Master Gardener Plant Sale
Additional information on these plant sales can be found by searching for the sale online...

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Mix Up Your Daffodils

The hardest part of planting spring bulbs in the fall is guessing what they will look like in your flower beds once the snow melts. It's like Russian Roulette. You're not quite sure if it will be a hit or a miss.

I've been experimenting with daffodils by selecting different types and placing them in different areas and beds around the garden. The times I've had a "miss", I make a note to add something else to the site in the fall. No matter what, I take a picture of my blooming beds so I can remember in the fall what plant was where and how many bloomed. This spring has been the best spring yet!

Here are a few types in my garden:

Tahiti Daffodils 
I have placed Tahiti daffodils, a fantastic double daffodil, in my east beds along a walking path. They make a big impact visually the more you have and are known to be good naturalizers.

White Petal Daffodils
I have some of these white petaled daffodils in my rear bed in a couple locations. Some are bunched in groups, while others are mixed in with yellow varieties. They make a nice change in color scheme.

Miniture Daffodils 
One of my front beds has miniture daffodils. I love their small size, and have mixed them in with Chionodoxa, another small spring bulb. When pansies become available, I plant them in front of the daffodils to make a nice contrast.

Garden Tip: plant bulbs with different bloom times to extend the daffodil season