Sunday, March 1, 2015

Cottage Garden “Must Have” Seed and Plant List

A Cottage Garden is a unique blend of plants, bulbs, seeds, annuals, perennials, bushes, and trees.  Each year I look forwarded to the new seed  and plant catalogs and I devour them eagerly.As I have mentioned in my blogs, starting your own seeds is definitely the most economical way to start a cottage garden or add to your existing garden.  Each year I add a few more plants and bulbs and try to push the boundaries of what will grow in my high heat desert zone. Sometimes I have a hard time with some seeds germinating so I will buy plants from online nurseries. Here you will find my list of must haves for the 2015 growing season. I suggest one and all to find a few spots in your garden for one or two new roses.



Pretty Jessica.  This is a good 'old fashioned rose' for a very small garden. Its 3" flowers (petals 45) are a warm rich pink and of perfect formation; a shallow cup closely packed with petals. It has compact, repeat blooming and very short growth.There is a strong old rose fragrance.


Honore de Balzac® From Meilland of France this magnificent pink and yellow blend rose has large, cupped 5-6" blooms (petals 40+) unfold best in a dryer climate. Breathtaking.


Everest Double Fragrance.  Large, fully double and shapely 4" blooms (petals 12-15) are borne in trusses of soft powder-pink , sometimes almost apricot on a continually blooming plant having a dense clove fragrance. Dark-green leathery and heavily veined foliage.


The Shepherdess.  A most attractive rose with deep, open-cupped 3 1/2" flowers(petals 45). The color is a lovely apricot pink with a fruity/rose fragrance and at times a hint of lemon. A healthy, upright, repeat blooming bushy plant.


Lady Emma Hamilton. This rose starts off with dark red buds that have a hint of orange. When the flowers open, they provide a combination of tangerine orange on the inside of the petals and a yellow-orange on the outside. These blooms sit beautifully against bronzy green leaves that become dark green over time. As a fairly upright, bushy, shrub, it grows to be about 4 ft x 3 ft. The blooms are 3.5” in diameter on average and provide an exceptional scent that has hints of pear, grape and citrus fruits.

Select Seeds -- Antique Flowers

Coneflower 'Supreme Cantaloupe'

Coneflower' Supreme Cantaloupe' This Echinacea has a good habit, long bloom time and fragrant, non-fading melon colored petals; the centers start out unimposing then puff out like a honeycomb paper ornament. Well-drained to gritty sweet soil are best.

Zinnia 'Zinderella Peach'

Zinnia 'Zinderella Peach' Zinnia elegans NEW!   This great new zinnia from our favorite Dutch breeder is a nod to the retro scabiosa flowered zinnias so popular in the early 1900s. He has elevated it, (pun intended) into a lovely truffle of a flower with many layered petals in cream and peach with salmon undertones. Easy to grow, it has strong stems, perfect for cutting. Some variation in color and form, but altogether charming.

Geranium 'Fair Ellen'

 Geranium 'Fair Ellen' This variety originated in England in the 1840s. The spicy scented leaves with maroon veining and gorgeous bright pink flowers make it a perfect choice for growing in containers near your door. A beautiful, sturdy-growing plant.

Nasturtium 'Darjeeling Gold'

Nasturtium 'Darjeeling Gold' Tropaeolum majus Rare!  A rare, choice variety with fully double button-like flowers held above the foliage. Deep golden yellow hue stands out in the garden and will be the star of containers in temperate summer areas.

Nasturtium 'Hermine Grashoff'

Nasturtium 'Hermine Grashoff'   A plush looking double-flowered nasturtium with full gathered petals in a rich orange-scarlet hue, bloom all summer to frost. Double forms of nasturtium were imported to England from Italy around 1769. Showcase this beauty in pots, and take cuttings if you desire, as they do not set seed. Annual;  3' trailing Bloom Time Summer to fall; Color: Rich orange-scarlet; Full sun to partial shade.

Nasturtium 'Whirlybird Cherry Rose'

Nasturtium 'Whirlybird Cherry Rose'   Doubled flowers in vibrant rose bloom all summer, the flowers held above the foliage on strong stems.
Primrose 'Blue Zebra'
Its light blue-and-white striped pattern is extraordinarily contrasted against a bright yellow heart. Upright habit is perfect for starring in the front row of borders, mixes or in a container all on its own.

Calendula 'Kablouna Lemon'

Calendula 'Kablouna Lemon' Crested flower centers have a halo of ray petals in a zesty lemon color. Dependable and easy. Edge your veggie garden with these and harvest the petals as they make tasty and colorful additions to breads, soups, and salads. Self sows.

Columbine 'Grandmother's Garden'

Columbine 'Grandmother's Garden' An antique form with short spurs of mixed colors of dark rose, violet, pink and white. Jewels of the late spring garden combined with young fronds of bronze fennel. Fertile, well-drained soils. Self sows.

Honeywort 'Kiwi Blue'

Honeywort 'Kiwi Blue' Cerinthe major var. purpurescens   Ultramarine blue color intensifies in cool fall weather. It combines especially well with 'Empress of India' nasturtium and enlivens flowers of dusky shades of lilac and pink as well.


Tobacco—Woodland  Nicotiana sylvestris.   Star Flower, they called it, for its cluster of tubular blooms are like a shower of brilliant white stars. The front page feature of Park Seed's 1904 Floral Guide, it still steals the scene today with its broad, light green leaves and fragrant flowers that stay open all day. Shelter from strong winds. Self sows.

Zucchini 'Costata Romanesco' Organic

Zucchini 'Costata Romanesco' Organic Curcubita pepo    Golden orange flowers and ridged, speckled and striped light green fruit are prized by professional chefs and gardeners alike. The flesh of these decorative fruits is nutty, meaty and delicious, and can be incorporated into many recipes with ease. Look sharp for the fruits, which can look uncannily like a stem until they are spotted at club size!


SHOGUN DOUBLE CLEMATIS   This clematis produces 4-5" blooms from mid May to June—and then again in August to September. Plant against a light background to make the flowers really stand out.

FLEVO LAGUNA GLADIOLUS. This densely flowered, dwarf variety is hard to miss with its unique chartreuse, red-rimmed blooms. With upright stems just 24" tall, this glad is perfect for borders, no staking required!


Verbascum phoeniceum mix.     A mix of airy white, pink, red or purple flower clusters sparkles above dark green mounds of foliage. Easy and free-flowering, this mix blooms from late spring until frost. Colorful racemes of flowers dotted and speckled through a border add bright glimpses of the many hues this mix contains. It has a light airy quality to it that is perfect to intervene amongst some of the heavier varieties that can become oppressive without these light touches. Easy and free flowering, a short lived perennial that will perpetuate itself by self sown seed.


Mixed Columbine.   Dainty, spurred petals in a colorful blend of pastel shades with attractive gray-green, lobed foliage. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. One of the easiest and most rewarding plants for the garden.

Birch's Double Everblooming Hardy Geraniums . Bright, double pink flowers with purple veining on dainty green leaves, turning a brilliant red and orange in fall. Hardy geraniums are low-maintenance perennials ideal for borders, rock gardens or as a colorful ground cover.

Blue Fringe Daisy.  They have delicate, fine blue-purple petals whorled around golden centers. And, these daisies produce lots of flowers in midsummer!


Red Fury Double Flowered Lily.  Seemingly endless layers of deep red-brown petals tipped with orange-yellow characterize these rare double blooms. Multiply rapidly and return every year; perfect for naturalizing!

Gloriosa Lily.   This fascinating perennial bulb has bright scarlet-red and yellow, lily-like blooms really stand out. Its long narrow leaves turn into tendrils at the tips, enabling it to climb or cling to other plants or structures.


Lilac Emporer Cactus-Flowered - Zinnia

Lilac Emperor Cactus-flowered-Zinnia.  Cactus-flowered type to 36 inches boasts quilled petals of unusually heavy substance. Extra-large flowers are a lovely lilac-purple and make a bold statement in any garden.

Burpee Rose Giant Cactus Zinnia

Rose Giant Cactus Zinnia.  Lovely, big blooms in shades of rose to "bubble gum" pink; they have the unique pointed "cactus" type petals that makes giant zinnia so unusual! Easy to grow and perfect for stunning bouquets. A hard to find variety that was introduced by Burpee's
Patio Pink Lavatera

Patio Pink Lavatera. Annual, although in warmer climates zone 9 or 10 it is a tender perennial. Lavatera is also known as Tree Mallow, and can reach 6 feet tall! But Patio Pink is smaller and more manageable for today’s smaller gardens, seldom exceeding 28 inches. The large, stunning flowers come on all summer long, shimmering in shades of clear, satiny pink. The size makes this one perfect for borders and bedding, but it is equally at home in containers, patio plantings, and more.

Yeti - Nasturtium

Yeti Nasturtium. I chose this nasturtium because of it’s near white color. I do not have this one and thought it would make a nice addition to my colorful nasturtium collection. Named after the ape-like rare creature that legend says inhabits the Himalayas, these white nasturtiums are rare indeed. Not just things of folklore, here is a creamy-white flowering variety that blooms on long trailing vines that have large leaves.

Flame Lettuce

Flame Lettuce.  60 days. A unique, red leaf lettuce that is great for the new high-class markets. The color is intense crimson red and is slow to bolt.

Giant Nonle Spinach

Giant Noble Spinach. This is the giant of the spinach clan; plants spread to 25 inches! Tender leaves are great for canning, steaming or salads; for those who want quantity and quality

Giant Musselburgh Leek

Giant Musselburgh Leek.  An heirloom that was introduced in 1834, near Edinburgh, Scotland. Large, very thick stems; tasty mild flavor. Grows well in most locations; perfect for home or market; this old favorite has huge size and is very winter hardy.

atomic red carrot

Atomic Red Carrot.  Brilliant red carrots are so healthful and unique-looking, sure to add color to your garden. The 8” roots are high in lycopene, which has been shown in studies to help prevent several types of cancer. Crisp roots are at their best when cooked, and this helps to make the lycopene more usable. Very flavorful.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Naughty Nasturtiums

The resurgence in interest in growing old-fashioned flowers has helped the nasturtium make a comeback in cottage gardens. The flowers have a delicate fragrance that many people will remember from grandma's garden. Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) are attractive, dependable garden plants that produce round, bright green leaves and blooms in several colors, all with distinctive, long spurs. The flowers and leaves of these easy-to-grow plants are also edible. The leaves are rich in vitamin C and have a peppery flavor, while the flowers make a different and colorful addition to salads and other dishes.


Nasturtiums come in three types: dwarf, semi-trailing, and single flower climbing. Dwarf types are bushy and compact and include the cultivars 'Alaska', 'Empress of India,' 'Strawberries and Cream,' and 'Whirlybird.' Semi-trailing types reach a length of two to three feet, making them ideal for hanging baskets. The Gleam series is a good choice here, having been named an All-America Selections winner in 1935.

Nasturtium is one of the easiest flowers to grow from seed. The best flowering will be in full sun, but they will tolerate partial shade. Seeds can be sown directly in the garden beginning in late May or started indoors to get a good head start on the season. However, as nasturtiums do not fare well when transplanted, use peat pots and plant these directly in the soil. Nasturtiums are not choosy about their soil, but, given a choice, do prefer a light, sandy soil. Don't spoil them with rich, fertile soil and fertilizers as this will only result in lush foliage and few blooms. The large seeds of nasturtiums are easily held by tiny fingers, making them a good flower for children to help plant. In addition, the seeds germinate quickly and plants grow rapidly, so children can see the results of their nurturing soon. Only a small space is needed to provide a child with his or her own garden. Even a single foot square container can become a spring-to-fall garden. In the early spring, sow fast growing seeds like lettuce and radishes with the nasturtiums. By the time they are harvested, the nasturtiums will be ready to bloom until fall. 


Although most often grown as annuals, nasturtiums are, botanically, herbaceous perennials; that is, they die to the ground in fall and grow again the next spring. In frost-free areas such as coastal California and in Las Vegas where I live and garden they grow like weeds, with 6-inch diameter leaves atop 20-foot-long stems sprawling year-round. A few lesser-known species are perennial to USDA Hardiness Zone 7, and although they're a challenge to grow, they offer gardeners unique flower and foliage forms.


Nasturtiums grow well in sun or partially shaded locations. For best flower production, plant your nasturtiums in full sun. The plants prefer moist, well-draining soil and tolerate damp locations quite well. They do well in all soil types but benefit from addition of compost at planting time. Adding fertilizer is unnecessary, and using high-nitrogen types may stimulate growth of leaves over flowers. You can direct-sow nasturtium seeds outdoors after warm weather has arrived. If you start seeds indoors, place seeds in individual peat pots to minimize transplant shock to their long taproots when you move them outdoors. If your plants begin to look leggy and produce fewer flowers during hot summer days, cut them back and they'll produce new growth and a second crop of flowers.

Colorful Choices

When you're choosing varieties to grow, first decide whether you want bush or trailing kinds. Consider the unusual double flowers of the camellia-like types, too. In addition, some varieties have variegated foliage that's attractive even when the plant is not flowering. The accompanying chart provides more details about the best varieties.

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Trailing Nasturtiums. These nasturtiums have bigger flowers and leaves but don't produce as many flowers as the bush varieties do. They look great in hanging baskets, sprawling on a bed like a ground cover, or cascading over the edge of a raised bed. A vigorous trailing type, such as 'Tall Trailing Mix', can be trained on a fence as a climber. I plant this variety between tepees sorting pole and scarlet runner beans, and by midsummer I have a striking tepee of multicolored nasturtium flowers and delicious scarlet runner and pole beans to harvest and enjoy. 'Jewel of Africa Mix', another notable trailing type, features variegated leaves and a colorful combination of flowers.

Double Dwarf Jewel Mix

‘Double Dwarf”

Bush Nasturtiums. My favorite bush type is the variegated 'Tip Top Alaska Mix', an improved selection from the original 'Alaska' variety. Although it's not as floriferous and vigorous as other bush varieties, the vivid leaf markings more than make up for the meager flowering. Bush-type nasturtiums look great in window boxes and containers, or edging a path or border.


Whirlybird, offer a variety of flower colors, some of my favorites are the single-colored varieties. The scarlet flowers of 'Empress of India' contrast beautifully with its blue-green leaves. Although listed as a bush form, this one tends to trail to 1 to 2 feet long. 'Moonlight' (yellow and trailing) and 'Salmon Baby' (salmon with bush habit) offer more dramatic single-hued flower color.

Hermine Grashoff double flowered

'Hermine Grashoff'

Double Flowers. The most unusual varieties actually aren't new: They are rediscovered heirlooms dating back to the late nineteenth century. They look much like camellias or dahlias, so you'd be hard-pressed to recognize these flowers as nasturtiums. 'Apricot Twist' (apricot splashed with red) and 'Hermine Grashoff' (red) are two trailing types that don't form seeds and are available only as rooted cuttings. These nasturtiums aren't as vigorous as other trailing types and grow better in hanging baskets or containers. They are hard to find, I bought mine at Select Seeds.

Peach Melba‘Peach Melba’ 

Dwarf Nasturtiums. Generally grown as annuals, nasturtiums may survive winters in milder regions, where they can grow as perennials. Many common varieties of nasturtiums are dwarf plants that have a bushy, compact growth habit, making them quite useful in border plantings or for the front portion of a garden bed. Dwarf nasturtiums also make attractive additions to window boxes or patio pots. Dwarf cultivars include "Peach Melba," with creamy flowers that have throats of raspberry red; "Strawberries and Cream," with pale yellow flowers that have splashes of rosy pink and red; and the "Whirlybird" mix, producing bushy plants with a variety of flower colors that include salmon, yellow, orange and cream.

Empress Of India ‘Empress of India’

Semi-trailing Types. All nasturtiums have a tendency to grow in a vining habit, but, unlike in dwarf varieties, this has been suppressed only partly in the semi-trailing types. These nasturtiums grow as vines that reach a length of 2 to 3 feet and do well as trailing plants in hanging baskets. They can also grow successfully in pots when provided with a short trellis. Examples of this type include "Empress of India," with 1- to 2-foot-long vines, bright scarlet flowers and bluish-green leaves; "Night and Day," with 1-foot-long vines and flowers in both red and white; and the "Tip Top Alaska" mix, with variegated leaves, 10 inch-long vines and flowers in yellow, red and orange.

‘Jewel of Africa’

Tall Climbers. Many nasturtium varieties grow in a long, vining habit, climbing to heights of 8 or 10 feet when given support or trailing along the ground when support is unavailable. These plants are good choices for arbors, tall trellises or along fences. "Jewel of Africa" mix belongs to this group, producing 4- to 6-foot-long vines covered with variegated leaves and red, yellow, pink or cream flowers. "Apricot Twist" produces 3- to 4-foot-long vines and double flowers resembling camellias in apricot or orange with red blotches. Another trailing group is called the "Tall Trailing" mix, with 8- to 10-foot-long vines, variegated foliage and flowers in yellow, salmon, orange or red.

strawberry iceStrawberry Ice Nasturtium’

(Tropaeolum majus 'Strawberry Ice') bears deep yellow flowers with a strawberry-red blotch at the base of each petal. It trails or climbs to 16 inches.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Spring Blooms in the Cottage Garden



Containers planted in the fall bloom lushly in the warm spring air. Petunia

mixed with white stock and lilac snapdragon

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A tri-colored primula stretches toward the warm sun.

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A simple yellow petunia adorned with intricate red stripes.  Petunia’s tend to be very

hardy in the winter months if the temperature does not dip too low.


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A typical cool spring day in the mid to low 70’s is a good time to bring out

the seedlings and starter pots

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Daffodils say HELLO Spring!  Goodbye winter!

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  I highly recommend Gaillardia (Arizona Sun)for beginner gardeners. They sow easy and fast

and soon spread and bloom all season long and into the winter.

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I have never seen an Iris bloom all winter, but this little jewel never stopped blooming not even for a week, I have divided it 3 times and even the divided rhizomes bloomed within 2 weeks.  I can’t even give you a name for it, as I bought it at some nursery on clearance. I will definitely put more re-bloomers on my “to buy” list for next year. 

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I planted this little grouping to hide my air conditioning unit and it has not failed in that regard. I picked apples last year from my 2 year old tree. The bush green plant is rosemary, and under the apple tree is the ever faithful gaillardia. 

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If I had a larger yard I would plant more apple trees. They are such a pretty site when in full bloom. 

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I have never seen a plant grow as fast and bloom so quickly as the ever blooming gaillardia.   


I added a little whimsy with yard art. At the base you can see the green

of the opium poppy not yet blooming but soon they will pop their little heads up

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Bokchoy anyone?  


Window box of succulents


An old time Cottage Garden Favorite, Nasturtiums whirly bird. The unusual markings add interest to this plant.


Spring blooms add interest to the walkway and enhances the curb appeal.


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Pansies, a Cottage Garden must have.


The cottage garden will have an assortment of plants. Here I have nasturtium,

stock, daffodils, asparagus, roses, lavender, coneflower.