susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Amaranth aka Pigweed

Such a beautiful flower, I cannot imagine it as a weed.
(I better watch my thoughts, as one person’s weed may be another person’s treasure!)
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My first time ever to grow this flower, and I had no idea what to expect.
It is about as tall as a cornstalk (5-6 feet, or up to 2 meters), but its ‘tassels’ droop down instead of staying erect, as with corn.
The flowers are a beautiful fuchsia color, and quite elongate
– around 12 inches (30 cm) long.

I read that these flowers can be dried and used in arrangements past their bloom season.  Of course, I have to try this:-)
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The flower on the far end was cut a few days ago.  It was laying on a counter and making a mess by dropping pollen.  Time to learn how to dry these.

First thing I discovered was amaranth flowers come in erect or hanging forms.
A suggestion to keep the fall of the flower was to drape it over a box.
This is how I interpret how to arrange these flowers for dehydration.  The color of the flower has darkened already.  I’ll keep you posted as to the success of this endeavor.


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Weed or Not?

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Doesn’t it really depend on your definition of what is a weed?
This garden invader (see, a negative comment by me already), is at least 4 feet tall (over a meter).  I have been letting it stay so I could see what the flower looks like.  Perhaps I will like the blossoms, and it could be a new addition to this deer-proof bed.

So far, neither bees or wasps have been attracted to this specimen.  Although, when I was photographing this morning, the bees were all over nearby plants, and I did not dawdle.
The other photo-taking challenge was getting the entire plant in one picture.  It is in the middle of a bed, and the neighboring greenery partially disguises what I am attempting to point out.


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Hollyhocks

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Hollyhocks were unknown to me until a woman friend gave me a handful of seeds.  I dutifully planted them and they grew and grew and grew some more.  These are by far the tallest flowers I have.  They have bloomed and reseeded for a number of years now.  This year the blossoms are far more meager than in previous years, and I wonder if the plants are just getting old and need to be started again.  I used to see stems-full of dark red flowers that I learned were an old-fashioned favorite.

In the second photo you can see where the deer have eaten everything off the hollyhock stems.  They have been pruning these plants for years now.  I just measured the deer fence at 4 feet (120 cm) high, and it is also 4 feet (120 cm, again) from the house wall.  While the deer could jump this height easily, the bed is full of plants with no landing space.  The fence is high enough to deter the deer from nibbling low stature plants.


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Red Sunflower with Bee

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I attended a party recently where someone brought about a dozen budded sunflowers to share.  Of course I took one home to plant in my garden.  What a cool surprise when it bloomed red-orange.  The bees like it a lot, also.  This is not near as tall as a yellow sunflower with a giant head full of seeds that grows 8 to 10 feet tall.  The flower pictured above is about 3 feet (one meter) high, at most.


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Artichoke Flower

Artichoke flower on plantArtichoke flower in Turtle Vase

These are really quite stunning flowers, and as an added bonus they keep beautifully if dried.  Camaroon is a cousin of the artichoke that is grown for its flowers rather than the edible thistle bud.  The camaroon can get quite tall, easily 5 or 6 feet high.

I like to let some artichoke buds mature and flower, rather than harvest them all earlier in the growth stage, for eating.   Since my artichoke vegies do not grow especially large, I get tired of the ‘labor-intensive’ process to eat the small bites of the tender heart. 

Pictured is an artichoke flower in a porcelain Turtle Vase, made by yours truly.

Asiatic Tiger Lily

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Asiatic Tiger Lily

This is by far my favorite lily. I love it when it is not too hot and this flower comes into bloom. It means the flowers will stay longer. This year it is overcast with some rain showers, and the flowers love the weather.  With all the photos I’ve been taking of my flowers for this blog, I have documentation of how long they are staying in bloom.  Some varieties are staying around for a month or more.

I have found that the tall stems need to be tied up, as they are not strong enough to hold the blooms on their own. Perhaps the east facing location below the front deck has something to do with that, I don’t know.

The number of stems seems to have increased through the years. Last year, I stupidly put a clump of Japanese Iris next to these lilies, but now I see it is way too crowded. When the wet season comes, the irises will be moved – someplace, anyplace else. I want to have plenty of space for these lily bulbs to grow on their own.

Allium

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Allium

This is one of the taller specimens in the allium or onion family. Last year I planted four bulbs and got four giant flowers. I was so looking forward to this year’s blooms and wondering if and when the bulbs might multiply. This is the only bloom from these bulbs this season. I wonder if the particularly cold winter we had last year could have damaged the other three bulbs? They are still there with pathetic looking leaves. Still alive, but hardly thriving.

Do you see the resemblance to the chives flowers I posted recently? The main difference is size. This flower is a good 6″ – 8″ across, while the chive blooms are just over an inch wide.