Monday, February 1, 2010

A Gift Garden: Flowers For Sharing

A young woman had parked her car beside the road to pick flowers growing in a field. Passing her as she waded among the colors, I remembered the black-eyed susans that my mother had sown in our front yard between the house and the river. I was a little boy again waist-deep in a floral tide with a fist full of flowers. The bouquet was my gift to Mom, but I see now that it was also her gift to me.

Picking flowers is such a simple pleasure, and so easily shared with others.  You may carry an armful of glads to a soul mate, invite friends to come and pick their own irises, or cut a basket of dahlias to grace your own home.  Do you think you lack the space?  Of course, you have the space.  Whether you own a few planter boxes or a couple of acres, thoughtfulness sown in abundance is reaped many times over.  A few packs of seeds and boxes of bulbs will get your gift garden off to the right start. 

To have fresh flowers coming along throughout the growing season, plant your garden with bloom time in mind.  Many species are perennial, may be planted once and left to flourish.  Annuals may be planted at intervals through the spring and early summer for a succession of blossoms.  There are quite a few plants that are not cold-hardy in cooler climates, but may be treated as annuals or dug in fall and stored indoors over winter.  Seasons differ by location, and bloom times may extend throughout, but the following suggestions may help.  The lists are by no means complete.

Early Season:  Agapanthus, alchemilla, calla, camassia, delphinium, freesia, fritillaria, galanthus, helleborus, hyacinthoides, iris, ixia, leucojum, mathiolla, narcissus, peony, ranunculus, sparaxis, tulip.

Mid Season:  Achillea, allium, astilbe, tuberous begonia, caladium, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia, echinacea, eryngium, gladiolus, gomphrena, garden hippeastrum, leucanthemum, liatris, lilium, rudbeckia, scabiosa, zinnia.

Late Season:  Amarcrinum, aster, caladium leaves, calendula, galtonia, helianthus, hydrangea, limonium, lisianthus, moluccella, nigella, panicum, pennisetum, perovskia, polianthes, snapdragon, tithonia.

Make this your year to plant a gift garden filled to overflowing with generosity and flowers for sharing.

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