We may be Oregonians through and through, shrugging off the copious rain, or maybe you're a transplant from a dryer region but either way, planning our summer garden is a great way to make it through these winter months with a little more ease.
This year make sure to plant a few cut flower seeds. Flowers in their bright and upbeat presence are a feast to the eye and food for the soul and when you gather the blooms and put them in vases, these cut flower varieties are the cherry on top in your home decor all summer long. Besides all these benefits to humankind, our friend the Bees and other pollinators will be so grateful you did. They will reward you with all their pollinator's might, promise.
Do go and find a local garden store with a well stocked seed-racks, visit a flower loving friend and convince him or her to share some of their seed harvest or contact me at email@example.com I have a limited supply of the brightest blooms in town. These and many more varieties.
I grew up with cool summers in my native Holland and the sweltering hot Virginia summers had me wilting most of those sweaty days when I first arrived in my new homeland. The humid climate was one of the reasons we decided to move elsewhere and thus in 1994 my husband Mark, the three kids and I pulled up stakes and planted out roots in Portland OR in 1994. We still think we found the perfect climate. Despite Portland’s weather reputation, I love the climate here and so do many flowers I have noticed. A long growing season and plenty of rainfall, what more can I want?
However not every day is a beautiful day of course and the Oregon’s generous rainfall does not materialize year round. These last many weeks, maybe even months, it’s been very dry around here. Usually we experience a few of those hot sweaty dog days in summer, even here in Portland (and sometimes even in cool Holland), but this year Mother Nature seem to bring it on a lot.
Irrigation is a challenge, the way my gardens are spread out and on different properties. I use long hoses, both from the front and from the back of my house to reach most of the gardens around the neighborhood and I also placed hoses in strategic places to connect my long hose to in order to even reach a further distance, all outfitted with shut-off valves of course. These hoses are for reaching the spread-out gardens. Then soaker hoses do most of the work. Drip irrigation has helped me preserve water and my own energy as the water slowly drips into the soil near the root of the plants. There are still gardens that lack a soaker hose in place and here I have to water overhead with a sprinkler or I hand water around each plant, which is what I prefer. this allows me to inspect the plants and it’s environment while watering. Although it is time consuming, it is also one of the nicest jobs: giving all those lovely plants a good deep drink, what’s cooler than that?
Drip tape delivers water every few inches right where it is needed.
Midsummer flowers can easily be found at the farmer’s market. Petal Passion’s bouquets can be found at the Hillsdale Farmers market from April through September. Beebalm, Crocosmia, Snapdragons, Marguarite Daisies, the tall spikes of Delphinium, Lupines and many more varieties of flowers vie for attention at one of Petal Passion’s urban garden plots around this time of year.
Flowers are a sought after product at the market, many customer’s pick up a bouquet every week, and every week the composition of the bouquets differ as Mother Nature is a very abundant giver, especially in the month of July. See you at the market? I’ll have a beautiful bouquet ready for you to take home.
Flowers need bees and bees need flowers, a beautiful symbiotic relationship that has endured throughout the ages. For as long as we know pollinators have come to the flowers in search or nectar and pollen and in the process of feeding, they pollinate the flowers and thus ensure the plants’ and their own continuation.
The perfection of Mother Nature’s ways seems so apparent, and yet humanity took it for granted. Now it seems we have come to a point where the bees are disappearing.
If you want to help the bees and other pollinators, it is best to provide a range of plants that will offer a succession of flowers, through the whole growing season, early bloomers, late bloomers and everything in between.
Following is a list of plants that are attractive for bees, starting with the natives but also some more exotic plants are listed, for as a floral designer, I need as much variety as possible. Keep in mind though that many popular plants are hybridized and these often have reduced nectar and pollen production, so look for ‘open pollinated’ varieties if you can.
Spring cleaning has been in my bones since I was a little girl, helping my mom drag the old carpets outside to give it a good flogging with the ‘mattenklopper’ (carpet beater). I loved that job! I was not always particularly helpful with the way I used the devise (my family will tell) however there is something about starting afresh, cleaning out the cobwebs, letting in the air, that brings out the best in me, so naturally for me spring cleaning in the garden is like an orgy.
I love how spring is so promising, still so full of potential, so flawless. It entices me to daydreams of graceful Lilies, perfectly straight; Snapdragons and lots of it; voluptuous garden Roses and intense magenta Peonies. Things don’t always work out the way I imagine and any advise the reader wants to share with me on growing tall strong flower stems, I’ll be all ears and love to learn more.
I’m exited to rake away the layer of leaves (that I deposited there in the fall to protect against the elements as well as weeds), and find out which plants have survived the hard frosts we’ve experienced last winter. There are still many plants that are not at all ready to poke their heads out of the ground but many can’t wait to stretch their plant bodies up into an April world.
For me the best time of the year is right now. March takes me inside my tiny but wonderful little greenhouse and I plant hundreds of seeds.
The system I improvised is set up with rope lights, fastened with twisty ties under a repurposed office ceiling grit, found at the Rebuilding Center at 3625 N Mississippi Ave. Such a great place to find stuff.
The rope lights keeps the soil warm enough to start many delicate seeds, the soil temperature gets up to a toasty 80F. When seeds need less heath, I stack more pieces of ceiling grit under the tray, this also brings it a bit closer to the light fixtures above the seed trays. For additional temperature control I can open or close the plastic curtains since the whole system is build in my old plastic-covered-shelves greenhouse that did years of duty before my sweet man build this tiny greenhouse for me.
This has been a long-wished-for-addition to my business infrastructure.
Petal Passion has grown “organically” over many years in and around the family home. Stuff the kids outgrew, came in handy in my business. For instance an old red wagon that was handed down to my kids is now used almost daily for plant and bucket transportation. The playroom became my studio.
And so the greenhouse was build on the footprint of the old trampoline that was disassembled and the parts were used in one of my garden beds.
The area under the trampoline already had housed a chicken run during the years it was in use, so it made sense to build the greenhouse in such a way that the chickens could still use the space. the deck comes apart when we need to get some of the chicken-pooped-on-soil for the gardens.
Thanks to my family for supporting my flower passion for so many years already.
Local & seasonal flowers continue to be the hottest trend in the floral industry—check out this new book, Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers which featured designs by Petal Passion. http://freshfromthefieldweddings.com/
Interested in using bulk flowers from Petal Passion for a DIY wedding or special event? Be sure to get a copy of Fresh from the Field Wedding Flowers which includes great photos plus video tutorials on creating corsages, centerpieces and more: http://freshfromthefieldweddings.com/