Monday, June 6, 2016

How to Plant Dahlia Tubers


Howdy friends! Happy June! I've missed you! How has it been nearly a month since my last post? I can assure you it's not for lack of good writing material. I've been getting my gardens and containers prepped for planting while waiting for the weather to warm up enough to plant my dahlia tubers and seeds. We've had a cool, wet spring so I've held off on planting anything outside until last week. I can't tell you how excited I am to have them in the ground finally!

 At first sight a dahlia tuber can be a little intimidating to the new grower.  It can be difficult to distinguish which end is up, or down. Honestly, how can anything this ugly make something so beautiful?

The tuber above is one that I dug up and over wintered from last season. It already had a new eye start on it before I stored it. You can see where the stem was cut off at the very top of the photo. When you plant dahlia tubers, plant them with the stem facing upwards and the tubers hanging below facing downwards in a six inch deep hole. Cover them and water in well but be careful not to soak them. You don't want to risk rotting the tubers before they get going!

Give your dahlias nutrient rich soil with plenty of organic matter mixed in and a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day.

I over wintered last seasons tubers in a plastic bin filled with pine shavings. This is how they looked when I uncovered them in April to check for mold or any rotted soft material on the tubers. Always check your tubers during storage to make sure they're not getting too moist. I also trimmed off all the dried scraggly roots from the tubers and then I placed them in fresh shavings until planting time.

Dahlias bloom on tall plants that can reach over 5" tall. They will fall to the ground if not supported correctly.  I like to wait until they get several inches above ground before I stake them. That way I can be sure not to disturb or damage the tubers. Wooden stakes or bamboo garden stakes work well in a small operation where only one or two people tend the flowers. I tie them up with regular old garden twine. Have I mentioned how much I love twine? I L.O.V.E. TWINE!

Dahlias growing tall and proud! 

If you haven't tried dahlias in your garden or backyard flower farm yet I hope you'll give them a try this season. I love using them in my wedding work and I especially enjoy them on my dining room table, or anywhere for that matter!

I'm excited to see how the new Bridal Mix and Antique Anemone varieties I ordered from Eden Brothers do this year!  

Put down some roots and bloom!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sassy Succulants

Just look at these sassy succulents!  Have you gotten caught up in the succulent craze yet?
Succulents originate from desert areas and hold most of their water in their soft rubbery petals. They only need to be watered once a week and prefer a spot out of the sun. They require very little in the way of care but they give back in a big way. And, they're fun to plant up in different containers and vases. I snapped the top photo while visiting a booth at The Country Living Fair in Nashville recently. I just love how the bright green and purple play off of each other and the moss covering underneath the petals gives the whole container some pop! 

I also spotted these darling vintage-style painted jars planted up with succulents there and had to give them a try once I got home. I already had the painted jars left over from a Christmas project from last year. You can read about that here.

I love all the different shapes, colors and textures succulents offer the home gardener and floral designer alike.

Cactus plants have very similar requirements and can be mixed with succulents for an interesting textual look. I've just barely touched the surface for designing with succulents but I'm looking forward to experimenting more with them.

 Pinterest is loaded with gorgeous ideas for using them in your home and garden designs. I've started a Succulents board to keep me inspired. And, my new part time job at a local garden shop will surely keep me in good supply!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Perennials for the Farmer/Florists Garden

Black Knight Butterfly Bush, Cone flower, Knockout roses,  and Prairie Sun.
 Today's bouquets are all about what's in season RIGHT NOW. Whether you're designing with your own flowers or, sourcing blooms locally it's all about finding and using things that are unique to your area, and more specifically to your garden site. Not sure what you want to plant? Take a visit ( or several, it's still early)  to your local garden center and do a walk about. Talk to the nursery staff and tell them what you're day dreaming about. I like to get my plants in one gallon sizes or larger when I'm planting a new garden boarder with perennials and shrubs.  I just don't have the patience to wait for them to fill out! 

 Here in southern New England there are several perennials that I love to grow and use in my design work.  

 Here a Butterfly Bush blossom is right at home among some old fashioned zinnias.

Below I have Lemon Queen Sunflower ( pictured above) arranged with Black- Eyed Susan and annual sunflowers with grass plumes.

This bucket of late spring flowers is a mix of herbs, perennials and Forsythia shrub branches.


 Sedum and Ornamental Grasses are some of my favorite perennials to grow because you can use them all season long.  Not only do they They add year round interest to the garden but

they add unique colors and textures to the bolder shades and shapes of summer annuals such as Dahlias and Zinnias. 

 The Shasta Daisy is such an early blooming flower that reminds of summer picnics and backyard BBQ's. 

Shasta Daisies
Cone flower
The possibilities are truly endless and that's what makes growing and designing so much fun. You'll never run out of color, textures and fun shapes to work with and just by adding a handful of new plants to the yard will give you new ideas and material to play with.

I hope you'll give these easy care, sun-loving perennials a try and experiment with them in flower arranging too! 

 Here's a little perennial planting tip:
Plant your perennials in groups for masses of color in one or two seasons.
Hint: Instead of planting three plants, plant 5 of the same variety and plant them closer together than recommended. You can always go in and thin them out in a few years and then you can pot some up to share with friends and neighbors too!

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