Our yard has a lot of shade. We are lucky to have a lot of trees, which gives us a sense of privacy even though we don’t live on a secluded estate. There are three areas we have flowers, and all three have more shade than sun. I’m not used to this – up to now I’ve been gathering information about plants for hot, dry areas, plants that can handle life without a lot of babying from me. But I’m building up my shade repertoire and finding a whole new family of flowers.
Impatiens are a group of plants that work in the shade without any babying. Before you roll your eyes and click over to a site with sunflowers and prairie blazing star, you must know that Impatiens are not all the flat, uninteresting flowers you might be picturing. Impatiens come in a variety of colors and their shapes and shadings widely vary.
Also, don’t be a dork like me and go through life thinking they are called “impatients” because when you find out your mistake, you’ll feel a little silly.
These colorful flowers will bloom all season, aren’t picky about soil conditions, and as long as you keep them out of direct burning afternoon sun, they’ll remain agreeable. They are not hardy here in Minnesota, but they make a fantastic annual. Here are some of the other ones I picked up this year:
(Just a side note if you are interested, I took these photos with Instagram. If you use it too, I’d love to connect there. On Instagram I go by: writermama1999.)
I’d love to hear any other shade loving plants you’ve found. I have a few more to share but they aren’t blooming yet, due to our cool spring and delayed summer. I hope to feature them in the future. Do you have favorite flowers you are drawn to year after year?
Does someone in your family love to mow the lawn? I have someone in my family who has graciously taken over all mowing responsibilities, but little did I know that he has a Golf Course Gene. I think he inherited it from his father. He expects our yard to look like a freshly mown golf course. All the time. This means, of course, that he is driven to cut the grass more than the reasonable one time per week that I suggested. (And we won’t discuss how, in his yard maintenance fervor, he weed-whipped the tops of a whole line of Siberian irises that were about to bloom.)
What this means for me is that although I don’t have to suffer through the noise and allergic reaction I would get if it was ME out there cutting the grass, my flower planters are constantly being moved. And not being put back. I don’t like how they look all mushed together on my front porch, so I end up being the one to move them back to their rightful positions. But planters can be HEAVY so I’ve pieced together ideas from a lot of other places, some of my own, and come up with a pretty good formula for lightweight, beautiful planters.
The key is foam.
Not froth, foam. (Note that in this link they are selling a package of foam blocks, not each one individually.) http://www.joann.com/crafts/basic-craft-supplies/styrofoam/?page=4
You can use styrofoam packing peanuts, you can use the foam that protects appliances in their shipping boxes, if you’re desperate enough you could even try a bunch of styrofoam coffee cups. It is important to note that I don’t mean florist foam that absorbs water — this thing is still going to be heavy enough without an additional brick of water in the base. What I ended up using was a big block of it. It looks like this:
In the past I have not covered the foam with landscape paper, but I wanted to add some gravel to the bottom of the planter this year, so I went ahead and covered all of that with a sheet of landscape paper, just to keep it all separate from the dirt.
Why the diaper? After numerous experiments I’ve decided that the cheapest most effective way of keeping my hanging baskets from drying out is to use part of a diaper in the bottom of each. But that, Dear Reader, is for another post. But you just read the punchline, so maybe I don’t need to do the post?
Maybe you still have a pot in your garage that was just too big to move around once you potted it up. I think you’ll find that if you use foam in the bottom of it, you’ll have a much easier time scooting it out of the way of a lawn mower, or to a better spot for more sunlight.
Do you have any tips for producing pretty planters? I’m always on the lookout for things that work in the garden so I’d love to hear from you!
As promised, here is a review of my first experience at the epic Friends School Plant Sale held at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand.
It was great.
When we got there, we got a wristband. The wristband (at no charge) had a number on it and was our entry ticket into the sale. The MC (yes, she was on the mic) told people when it was their turn to go through the gate and all those with that number on their wrist band could enter. We had to wait a bit, but I was with a wonderful longtime friend and it was a gorgeous morning, so it was no chore. Plus there were vendors sprinkled around the waiting area, so it made for interesting people watching.
Lots of gardeners brought their own wagons or carts, some rigged up with various devices to fit as many plants as possible into their cart without them getting squashed (think shelving systems). These guys were the hard-core plant salers. Even if you didn’t bring your own, there were plenty of carts available to use.
Now the fun started. We got inside and I was amazed by the organization and variety. All the plants were sorted by category and were then in alphabetical order. It was a type-A’s dream come true. There was room between the aisles and plenty of clearly marked “employees” to ask for help (all the people working the sale were volunteers, parents, teachers and lots of students of the Friends School).
You should have seen all the varieties they had. I mean, things you’d have to special order if you relied on most local nurseries. There were a few things missing due to crop failures sad little empty places on the wooden shelves, but these were sandwiched between such abundant replacements that I can’t imagine people could complain much. The whole Grandstand was filled with plants front the front to the back, all the way across the whole first level, and some of them had multiple tiers. Crazy amounts of plants. And there were trees, shrubs and roses outside. It just kept going!
When it came time to check out, the process was simple. You were given a tally sheet at the beginning and it was up to you to write down what plant, how much and how many. You gave that sheet to a friendly lady at the tally table and she’d tippity-tap her big calculator and write up your total. Push your cart to a cashier further down and you’re done.
The whole thing took us about an hour and a half, and that was with a few backtracks and additions.
Overall there are a couple things I would mention to any person interested in going to the sale in the future:
#1. If you can avoid bringing your kids, you will have an easier time.
You can bring kids, of course, but it is a big place, concrete floors, I have no idea where the bathrooms were, and there are A LOT of people there. The whole experience will be more relaxing for you if your kids are playing with a nice friend or grandparent at home.
#2. You should go in with a plan.
Because of the magnitude and the crowd, it is not the place to plan out your planters. They have a great website where you can get organized ahead of time by creating a wishlist. When you print out the wishlist, it has the code for each plant, and that will help you find it’s location at the sale. And you’ll definitely want to have that list.
#3. You are among kin.
I was surprised at the patience and general good attitude of everyone in attendance. I watched people crush rosemary and smile as they inhaled the scent. I saw people oogle flowers in other people’s carts and comment on how pretty it was going to look. People were polite, patient, and nobody stole my purse even when I left my cart unattended multiple times. What nice folks. 🙂
Since you know you’re going to spend the money on your plants and flowers anyway, if you want to support a school in the process and have fun making an event of it, I think you’ll really enjoy the Friends School Plant Sale. And no, I don’t have kids at the school nor am I a paid spokeswoman for them. But it was a wonderful day with a great friends and beautiful weather. You’ll have to ask me in a few years when I’ve made it through the sale by myself and in the rain. It might just be worth it.
I have a bee in my proverbial bonnet about a certain flower. Until today I couldn’t figure out what it was called exactly. I could only describe it, which usually brought blank stares or puzzled looks from the unsuspecting witness to my enthusiasm.
You must understand, Dear Reader, that I’ve only seen this flower in person once, and that was before my slow transition into the herky-jerky gardener I have now become, and so my observation of the plant in person was only fleeting.
But this summer I saw a photo of this flower in an old magazine from last year and immediately when I saw it, I knew that it belonged in my garden. It is too adorable — yes, adorable can truly be used in this circumstance — to be ignored. It is too unusual to dismiss. It is just way too much fun to let it pass into the hands of some wiser gardener. And therefore, I plan to purchase my first bulb online, which requires quite a bit of trust if you ask me…which I realize now you didn’t actually do…so…should I stop writing now?
No! Ha ha! I shall press on!
You have to order the bulbs now, during summer, and they don’t ship your order until fall. Does that sound fishy to anyone else? Let me get this straight: you want me to place an order with you now (on my computer, no less! It’s not like I can march down to Linders or Bachmann’s and talk to a manager if my order doesn’t get delivered), pay you now, and then just hang out and do my thing until you send my order to me four months from now? That’s nuts!
And yet, I am willing to suspend my suspicious suspicions and try to regain the trust that businesses will do what they say they’ll do, and that they will actually come through for the Little Guy. How cynical I’ve become over the years! How untrusting! It never would have dawned on me in my younger years to think that a company might not give me the best deal they could, might not think to mention the fine print, might not be trying to find a product that would satisfy both my needs and their own. Whew! To be that fresh again.
If all goes well, maybe that’s what this bulb purchase will do for me — restore my faith in corporate America. Because right about now, I’m thinking that come autumn, I might open my delivery and discover a box full of packing peanuts and discarded cracker jack prizes instead of my prized flowers. But only time will tell.
Check out this crazy flower. This is the one!
We finally (FINALLY!) moved into our new house. We could take a moment to reflect and rejoice just about that fact alone, but we will move on to the real point of this post — my newly inherited garden.
It is so hard to wait and see what comes up in the garden beds. I’m dying to get my hands in the dirt and add to the basics that I’ve found so far. It is still kindof early, but already I’ve identified multiple varieties of hostas, peonies, daffodils, sedums, rhododendrons, silver mound and grape hyacinths. Someone here cared for this yard at one point, but it has been a while. And of course, as things vary by gardener, there are placements of flowers and shrubs that leave me scratching my head. For example, why did someone plant burning bush, which is now at least five feet tall, at the front of a flower bed along the side of the house and then place sedums behind it? The sedums will be blocked out from sight by the shrubs. Why? I’m not sure yet, and it may end up being a lack of planning, but maybe there’s a secret reason that will become clear as the season progresses.
I found a fantastic website that focuses on plants that thrive in Minnesota. None of this “landscaping in Georgia business” that so many gardening magazines use as their starting point and which won’t help me in the least. The University of Minnesota Extension Office is a great resource and this particular link has all kinds of helpful plants that grow well in our conditions. They also have lists of plants that are deer resistant, which is a new challenge of my new location. They’ve already munched the tops off the emerging hostas near the road and along the end of the driveway, and I’m curious about how far into the yard they will venture.
If you’re looking for plants that have a good chance of thriving in Minnesota, that don’t need a lot of babying, and that have a long flowering season, check out this link and see what you think. They even list things that attract butterflies or hummingbirds, always a welcome addition to the interest of the garden. I have a feeling it will be something I come back to again and again.