3-21-12: First Sure Signs of Spring
Tom Hall talks with gardener and writer Anne Raver about how the unseasonably warm winter and spring is affecting our plants. She also talks about the best seeds to plant for flowers to cut and arrange.
Sunflowers, especially those good for cutting–I love Autumn Beauty, Evening Sun, Italian White, Lemon Queen, to name a few. A new hybrid Pro-cut series, good for cutting and offered by Johnny’s Selected Seeds, bloom two to four weeks ahead of the old-fashioned types, and they look gorgeous. They are pollenless, though, so if you grow these, also grow some of the old-time ones, which are full of pollen, and are beneficial bees and butterflies and other pollinators.
Zinnias, too, of all kinds; Renee’s Garden Seeds has a great selection and Rene Shepherd, the owner, seems to choose them very carefully for great color combinations. I love the Hot Crayon and Cool Crayon colors, but all of them look delicious.
Other favorites: cosmos, cleome or spider flower; amaranth or Love-Lies-Bleeding, which has long tassel-like flowers (there is even a green variety) globe amaranth or gomphrena (cute little balls of color, they look like spiky gumdrops); China asters (Johnny’s Selected Seeds has a great selection called Serenade Mix, deep colors). Today, we planted nigella, or Love-in-a-mist, white dill, and Green Mist, which both look like Queen Anne’s Lace. (I pick that too, along roadsides or in fields.)
Other places to look are Seed Savers Exchange, Fedco Seeds, and Jelitto Perennial Seeds. Also, local farmer’s market and various community plant sales are often rich sources for home-grown perennials and annuals, at reasonable prices.