April 18, 2017 0 comments By: m

Planting Fever

The weather and the soil have been perfect, so I've been getting lots of planting done the last few days.

Since I expanded my gardening this year from the ornamental vegetable garden to include a rose garden and a cut flower (mostly dahlias) garden, I've had lots to keep me hustling.  I've also been adding to the wildflower garden so that it doesn't completely revert back to grass and weeds, and within that, a big bed of poppies that I can't wait to see in bloom.  The wildflowers (and grass) are tall enough now that the paths I cut with a string timmer are showing up distinctly.

horse-shoe poppy plot in the wildflower garden

Yesterday, I planted 31 (!)  'Blue Monday' Salvia plugs (that I grew from seed) in the back of the rose garden.  If they mature well, that could make a beautiful backdrop.  It may be too crowded by the end of the season, as literature says it grows to 12" wide, and I planted them about 6" apart.  Will that make them bloom more because they're stressed and want to make seed before they die, or will that make the bloom less satisfactory?  We shall see.

Here's what I hope:  I hope it blooms profusely and drops seed that will sprout and grow next year, since it's an annual and I don't want to take up the space and time starting it indoors and transplanting again.  But if it's as pretty as the pictures I've seen of it, I'll do what I have to.  The only problem with that strategy is I won't know whether it's going to self-seed satisfactorily until it's rather late in the game to start indoors.

Then I put 16 mixed color dahlias (also grown from seed) in the currently L-shaped cut flower bed, along with 6 butterfly milkweed plants at the end, hoping for Monarch visits.  The black dahlias are a great deal larger than the new transplants, as they germinated quickly and grew rapidly.

Finally there were enough weed-free grass clippings for me to put down a light mulch over the lettuce, tatsoi, arugula, cabbages and carrots.  It keeps the soil from drying out so fast in the sun and keeps the rain from splattering mud on the plants.  It also adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down, and shades the ground if you need it to stay a little cooler.  Theoretically, it will help to keep down weeds, but the clippings I'm able to obtain probably have enough grass and weed seed in them as to cancel out that advantage.

grass mulched beds

Since the red veined sorrel (Rumex sanguineus) I planted the first week of March never germinated, I was glad I'd started some indoors.  Those went out this morning.  The first I became aware of this plant two years ago, Lakewood Gardens was selling it with their herbs.  They weren't carrying it last year, but I found some at Granddaddy's Garden where they were selling it as an ornamental for the pretty foliage.  It's a member of the dock family (in fact, it's also known as bloody dock), so you can view it as a weed, an ornamental or a salad green.  I see it as an ornamental salad green.  It will develop dark green oblong leaves with deep red veins and what's described as a tart flavor.  Since I only ever had one plant at a time, I used the leaves sparingly and don't recall it as particularly tart.  But, when you consider that lettuce is rather tasteless, perhaps.  However, it isn't something as strikingly strong as arugula, nor bitter like some leafy greens. Maybe if you let it get more mature, but, like my lettuce, I prefer tender baby leaves.

Red veined sorrel seedlings

A couple of days ago, I put out about 30 zinnia seedlings that will be a center row between two rows of onions.  The outer row of onions is about three inches tall now, and soon I'll plant the inner row.

After a rain.  left row: Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage (interplanted with marigolds);
right row: Zinnias and onions
further right: 'Improved Maestro' peas - with Egyptian walking onions (Allium x proliferum) behind

The beautiful mixed lettuces will be ready any time now for picking as baby leaves, which, as I said, is just the way I like them.

The cover over the window well makes a great place for seedling trays, slanting them toward the sun and backing them up with a reflective white wall.

Here I should mention that Wal-Mart has a bin for recycling the trays that hold the plastic 4- and 6-packs and the plastic 4" pots of vegetables and flowers, and they let you take them if you need them.  And this year, I bought some sheets of the packs and some tray liners from Morgan County Seed Company for the incredibly low price of $0.60 for a sheet of the 4- and 6-packs and $0.80 for a tray liner (and I think for a tray, as well).  (One sheet contains either eight 4-packs or ten 6-packs.) Holy moly, what a bargain!  When I started my seeds in February, I ordered some 6-packs from Amazon at a cost of $0.31 per 6-pack.  I didn't look at the price of the 4" pots at Morgan County, but they are no doubt comparable.  I reuse all plastic potting material until I've given it away with plants or it falls apart.  I do wash them between uses, and if I think there may have been any disease organisms, I either toss the container or bleach it.

Sometimes with an order of seeds, I'll get a free packet of something (probably something they can't sell).  Last year, one such offer was something that was labeled as 'Red Crimson' Dianthus.  When I looked up that variety on line, it looks like a pretty dark red carnation with a pink center.  Mine has beautiful lush foliage, and even though I was expecting some red flowers, that's all it ever was all season last year.  It survived the winter, and this is what it's doing now:

I was beginning to think it wasn't even Dianthus, but Googling "carnation with hair-like petals" led me to something called a Turkish carnation.  That was also called Dianthus barbatus, and that is apparently Sweet William.  

The Missouri Botanical Garden site says it's "a  short-lived perennial that is perhaps best grown as a biennial. [...]  Seed may be planted directly in the garden in late spring for bloom the following year."  That would explain the fact that there were no flowers last year.
Here's a picture of a pink colored Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) from Cool Garden.

I don't know what those spikey bits are called.  They're not petals, and they're not sepals (the small green petal-like parts that make a cup for the petals).  Perhaps they're what's called bracts, which are actually modified leaves.*  At any rate, I'll be watching for some flowers amongst those spines, and assuming they'll be crimson red.

This  last picture shows what is turning into my favorite flower bed.  Alliums blooming now, oriental lilies and stargazers for summer, early spring hyacinths, a Julia Child rose, and a ground cover of ornamental thyme.  Today I dug up the weed infested and otherwise barren ground around it and planted grass seed.  It deserves it.

Happy gardening!

*Okay, I couldn't leave you that way.  I looked it up.  They are indeed bracts.  And, you probably already know, but those lovely red poinsettia petals are not petals at all, but bracts.  The flowers of a poinsettia are clustered in that funky little yellow center.

Till next time.
April 14, 2017 2 comments By: m

Planting Days Are Here Again

The weather has been all you could want for spring gardening lately.

I am so obsessed, I go out sometimes two or three times a day just to peer at the ground to see if there are any signs of newly germinated seeds.  And while I'm there, I pluck a few newly germinated weeds.  I'm trying to be better about thinning what needs to be thinned this year, and I'm getting there with my Chinese cabbage plot.  It could use a little more thinning, but by the time they're this big, it's really hard for me to make myself take any out.

The peas are coming along nicely, with the exception of the ones the deer grazed down.  Fortunately, they didn't eat too many, but I didn't plant a lot this year, so I hate to have somebody eat them before I get to harvest.

The deer did leave at least something growing on the peas they clipped, so maybe they'll move on to more tender treats and let those alone now.

They have also clipped off a number of other things, including a couple of my dahlia plants.  I've got a calendar schedule now to spray Deer-B-Gone every third evening for a while.  So far, they've clipped a tulip tree sapling, dahlias, peas, burning bush, all the flower buds off the little magnolia.  Although it hasn't happened yet this year, they've been known to clip my roses, so I've got them on the schedule, too.

Today, I planted 'Marketmore' cucumbers and Golden Zucchini.  I planted the zucchini inside a tomato cage, which is something I read about but haven't done before.  I'm feeling slightly skeptical.  I put the cucumbers underneath the same trellis I had last year.  We had too much rain for them last year, and the vines rotted.  Hopefully that will not be the case again.

Slowly but surely my little seedlings are coming along.

Still not big enough to transplant, and most of them are flowers that I decided to grow this year, and three kinds of basil.  The tomatoes are about three inches tall and smelling wonderful as tomato plants do. Only a few are still in the cellar, along with a few that I'm beginning to think are not going to germinate.  Most are big enough to stay outdoors day and night now in an area that's somewhat shaded so they don't cook.

This is what the garden looks like now:

That's some very health volunteer cilantro in the foreground, left.  All my cilantro is volunteer, by the way.  And I get plenty of it.  You only have to plant it once and let some go to seed.  Oregano and chives are just beyond the cilantro (center front).  And the chickweed is taking over the world outside the garden.

It's a couple of weeks now before I will plant the last of my garden seeds: okra, lima beans, beets, and maybe cowpeas.  So I'll spend that time scrutinizing the ground where the tiny little carrots, celery and salad greens are coming up, watching for onions and nasturtiums to break the surface, and watching the poppies and hostas take off.

My poppy field is loaded.  Can't wait to see them in bloom.

Poppy seedlings galore.  See the nice little deer tracks cruising through?

I'm not a sweet potato vine fan, but I saw this bi-colored one yesterday and couldn't resist.  It didn't have a label, and it was the only one (at the wonderful Dutch Bakery in Tipton, Missouri), but I believe it's 'Sweet Caroline Sweetheart Red'.  

I also picked up some flowers to go in pots and a sweet little basil I hadn't seen before that was labeled 'Tasty Purple'.  

It has very small leaves, and I probably won't cook with it, but it smells good and certainly looks pretty in my big pot with the other herbs.

That pot will probably never look better than it does right now.

Among the beautiful blooming things that are making me happy are the dogwood:

Bleeding heart, Dicentra formosa 'Luxuriant'...

And 'Sparkling Sapphire' Baptisia that I purchased a couple of days ago from Helmi's Gardens in Columbia, Missouri...


The gooseberry bush is loaded with flowers.  I hope they get fertilized!

And, I hope you're enjoying the spring color as much as I am.

April 8, 2017 0 comments By: m

Behold! The Sun!

What a fabulous couple of days we've had.  Perfect (if a little windy) for getting some things in the garden.

First, though, the chickweed has taken over!  It's especially thick at the garden edges, and when I pulled several inches of it away from the west end, there were at least a half dozen grubs per handful.  No wonder the moles make tunnels all around the edge of my garden.  (Which would be okay if they didn't feel the need to cross through.)

bird feed

I went ahead and set my little cabbages in the ground, along with a few marigold seedlings and some nasturtium seeds.  Hopefully, the strong-smelling flowers will either repel or confuse cabbage worm moths.

I also got a long row of little onion bulbs in the ground.  Hopefully it won't rain quite as much as it did last year, when I lost over 3/4 of my onions to rot.

cabbages and onions planted and watered, peas coming up, Egyptian walking onions going crazy

I planted a lot of cabbages hoping to get at least a few decent heads out of it, because I didn't have much luck with them last year - my first year growing cabbage.  Most of them didn't form good heads.  I don't know why, but they were in a fairly shady place, so I've put them out further into the sunny area this year.  Maybe that will help.  And maybe that wasn't the problem at all!

I had direct seeded the Chinese cabbage before the freezing week we had as I read you shouldn't try to transplant them.  I hadn't read that last year, and so that's exactly what I did do.  They started out gangbusters but didn't form heads well either.  This year, I've got a lot of thinning to do now, and these little snippers I got that aren't good for much else work like a charm for thinning.

My little rhubarb plants are looking suspiciously like the ones I started last fall and gave up on.  They just don't seem to want to grow, although their roots are long enough to be forming along the inside edges of the 4" pots they're in.  I saw a video about growing rhubarb where the guy said that given more soil space, rhubarb seedlings will grow much bigger and faster.  I went ahead and put a few in the ground, and later I'll "pot up" the others, even though they aren't root bound, to see if that's the case with mine.  The guys in the ground look awfully small, especially next to the three-year old plants that have been growing there.  Those little stems are nice and red, though.  I hope they stay that way when they're full grown.

Even though I covered the (green-stemmed) established rhubarb plants on the worst nights during that freezing cold week last month, they still suffered some damage, and I had to remove a lot of stems.  They don't look so good right now, but I expect they'll recover without much problem.

The black dahlias I've been growing from seed were starting to get root bound, and since the sun is supposed to be out for a while now, I think the ground is warm enough to put them out.  But, what do I know?  Nothing about dahlias.  I previously turned under some grass and wildflowers in an area adjacent to my rose garden and added some composted manure and humus (purchased in a bag).  Digging into it to plant the dahlias today was a joy.  There's lots of decaying oganic matter and the soil is loose and rich. One thing for sure, whatever else might be a problem for my new dahlia bed, compacted soil won't be.

I'm disappointed that the mixed dahlia seeds I started at the same time as the black dahlias didn't germinate.  That was one of those Amazon seed purchases that you never know about.  But so was the black dahlia seed.  I got some more mixed seed from another seller, and they've germinated without problem, but they're only just putting out true leaves.  Hopefully they'll pick up and catch up once they're big enough to go into the ground, so that the black dahlia blooms won't be all spent by the time the mixed ones come on.

And...that bleeding heart that was buried underneath dogwood and cypress leaves early in the spring...it looks great.  It even has tiny little flower buds on it.

The nameless kitty approves.

Lazy man's herb garden - right by the kitchen door
curly parsley, pineapple sage, patchouli, oregano, rosemary, lemon thyme
(waiting for basil seedlings to get large enough - and then try to take over)
April 4, 2017 0 comments By: m

A Few Notes

Nobody wants to do much growing during these cloudy, often rainy, cool days, but finally, I see some celery seedlings poking their heads up, as well as the carrots.

Other things that never died back during the warm winter, such as the tarragon, walking onions, rhubarb and dianthus, are managing without the sun.

Red Crimson Dianthus

Volunteer poppies and Tarragon

The peas are slowly coming along.

I keep watching for some signs of growth on the rosemary and lavender plants that were in the garden all winter, but nothing's happening.  I haven't entirely given up on them, but I'm thinking that I'll eventually have to.  The recommendation for winter mulching on certain plants is not to do it before the ground has frozen.  This allows the plant to have made its own transition to a dormant state and stay there.  If the ground freezes and thaws, the plant may suffer more damage.  Here's how an online article at The Spruce puts it:
A steady temperature will keep the plant in dormancy and prevent it from triggering new growth during a brief warm spell. Tender, new growth too soon will just result in more winter die back. Mulching now will also help conserve whatever water is in the soil, so hopefully, you’ve been keeping your garden beds watered right up until the hard frost.
Our winter weather was totally crazy this year. It was rather dry, and I don't think the ground ever froze, but what probably did happen was that plants that would normally harden off and go dormant for the winter never managed to do it, and I think that's why I lost a beautiful 'Pink Enchantment' rose, a crepe myrtle sapling, and probably the rosemary and lavender when the temperatures dived.  If mulching would have prevented these deaths, which I'm not convinced it would have, I really wouldn't have known when to do it.

Other things seemed to not be affected at all, while still others, such as the hyacinths, performed very differently from previous years.  Last year, I had hyacinth blooms for two weeks: the last week in March, and the first week in April. I didn't record the bloom period for the previous year, but my recollection is that it was about the same. This year, they started blooming in early February, and there are still a few just now fading!  The early warmth and late cool weather has prolonged their bloom time considerably.  I'm not complaining in that regard, but so many other things have suffered.

The sun is forecast to come out in a couple of days, and then the temperature is supposed to drop to near freezing in the early hours of Friday morning.  This is crazy.

In the meantime, if you're a Lepidoptera fan, here's a great Flickr site that matches butterfly and moth larvae (in the case of the genus Lepidoptera, commonly called caterpillars) to their adult forms:

And, here's a picture of one of my favorite spring denizens that thankfully seems to be unaffected by the temperatures as long as it doesn't get a hard freeze after the buds open:

Good luck, gardeners!

April 1, 2017 0 comments By: m

Weather Setbacks

Thankfully, the freezing temps have passed (I hope!), and while rain is almost always welcome, this week and next are a long spell of clouds and rain.  Nothing else wants to raise its head from the cold, wet earth in the garden, and what's already up, along with my seedlings that are in flats outdoors, just sit in stasis waiting for some sunshine and warmth.  I could use some myself.

The lettuce in the garden that was hit so hard by high winds when I planted it, is rather sparse, but that will just leave room for a second planting.  The peas are in pleasing parallel arcs of little plants less than two inches high.

The Chinese cabbage came up nicely and will require some prudent thinning when it gets a chance to grow some more.

Chinese cabbage

flower seedlings

I ordered three tall flat covers with vents, and I'm experimenting with using one of them as a kind of greenhouse for some of the dahlias and rhubarb (as well as a few lisianthus and a couple lupine) to see if that makes any noticeable difference in growth at this cool time of year.

In the meantime, my seed starts indoors are rapidly crowding my available space.

On the wildflower front, those rivulets of poppy seedlings turned out to be only the first flush.  Whether they were one variety that germinates more quickly than the others or places where the seed was either deepr or more shallow than the rest, I don't know.  But I was happily surprised a few days ago to check on them and see hundreds and hundreds of tiny newly germinated plants scattered all over the areas where I'd planted them.  Happily surprised doesn't quite accurately describe it.  I was thrilled.  I'm excited to see them all flowering, but judging from past years of the small plots I planted in the vegetable garden, I will probably have to wait until June.

June 10, 2015 

I'm imagining that picture at about 20 times the area.  I'm hoping the 'Black Peony' poppy seeds I sowed amongst them come up and do well.  I'm not feeling so hopeful about the 'Tangerine Gem' ones, though, as the ones I started indoors didn't germinate well.  In fact, only three teeny tiny plants came up.  They're growing so slowly as to seem frozen, and they don't actually look like the other poppy seedlings.   Last year, in the vegetable garden, I had sown some red poppy seeds, and they never germinated.  The 'Lauren's Grape' and 'Hungarian Blue' did well, as you can see, and I even have some volunteers of them growing in that same space this year.

I got the 'Tangerine Gem' seeds from an Etsy order.  I also got several other types of seeds from that same order sold by The Garden Studio.  The 'Tutti Frutti' lupine seeds germinated fairly well, but the 'Purple Ribbon' lavender only produced four seedlings, and the Verbascum and blue lupine seeds didn't produce anything.  I won't be ordering from The Garden Studio again.  And, FYI, if you order any seeds from Amazon, some sellers are, of course, less reliable than others.  I probably won't use Amazon in the future for seeds unless it's something I simply can't find anywhere else.  Two orders this year never even arrived: from sellers RED Room and sgeeew.  They did refund my money when asked, though.

At any rate, I think this poppy area will be a gorgeous planting, and since I put them on the interior of the wildflower garden, they should be a lovely surprise as you turn the corner of the winding path that goes through what is mostly shoulder height Monarda and coneflowers.

I didn't have any lisianthus last year, but I'm looking forward to seeing something like this again this summer.

Looking forward to a beautiful new year.

And some sunshine!  (Just wait till July, and I'll start wishing for some clouds.)
March 23, 2017 0 comments By: m

Missouri Gardening - Always a Challenge

We made it through that cold spell in pretty good shape.  Sadly, the crepe myrtle I planted last spring didn't survive the winter.  Neither did the larger of my two Pink Enchantment roses.  I don't know why, but my guess is that since the fall and winter were so mild for so long, they never had the time to harden off properly and the locations they were both in - very windy - added to the stress so that when the temperture did drop, they couldn't manage.  I'll have to keep that in mind if we have another spring-like winter and mulch susceptible new shrubs extra deep.  The other roses lived, but the branches all died, so that they're putting out new shoots from very near the ground.

I was talking to our local postmaster this morning about the unexpected week-long freezing temps at night, and the fact that there was surprisingly little damage, and she said, "It's because of the light of the moon."  That's one I hadn't heard before.  I never know how much "old time wisdom" about gardening is rooted in good science and how much is unsupported or coincidental observations handed down through the ages, but it's interesting to hear what the old gardeners pass down.  (The postmaster is not an old gardener; she's a local countryman who gardens at her mother's property.)  What did sustain freeze damage among the herbaceous plants was the daylilies.  Their foliage looks pretty bad, but they'll bloom okay, and they won't suffer any long-term damage.

No way was I expecting that long of a cold spell.  It's normal to get one-night freezes in March - and sometimes even in April - but not a  long spell of contiguous freezing nights.  But then, it's also really bizarre to have a February without long spells of night freezes like we had this year.  Cooler temp crops are often planted some weeks before the expected average last day for a frost, which in this area is April 10, and so I thought nothing of sowing carrots, peas, chinese cabbages, lettuces and other salad greens in the first week of March since last year was so warm early and for a long time, and February this year made me think it might even be moreso.

What surprised me in the garden was the tarragon.  It seems like such a tender plant.  Apparently it's not, as it's one of the plants that stays green all winter, even through the freezing without being covered.  I planted this from a nursery purchase in the spring of 2015, and it was then about the size of that sprig in the lower left hand corner of the picture.  I didn't even realize it would spread. Last year, due to the copious amount of rain, it grew very lanky, and I thought surely that would make it susceptible to a winter freeze, but, nope.  I cut it back, and it just keeps on going.

After three times of trying to keep some light mulch on the newly seeded beds the first of this month and having it blown away by the high winds, and then getting a week of night time freezes, I was feeling nervous about the prospect of having wasted both time and seeds.  Thankfully, in the last few days, I see peas and lettuces coming up, and today, tiny little chinese cabbages, so I'm feeling hopeful that the carrots, celery and shiso will soon follow.  I've been watering those beds since we haven't had any rain to speak of.  Luckily, I have a source of water near the garden and can drag a hose around to all the plots if needed.  The first year, I did have to hand water a good deal - or at least I thought I did - but the second year, I didn't need to do much watering.  Last year, other than watering-in newly seeded plots, the rain was plentiful and I didn't need to water anything.  In fact, the rain was too plentiful, and some things, like my cucumbers and onions drowned.

Yesterday I went to Vintage Hill  Farm nursery in Franklin, Missouri, and wanted (at least) one of everything.  Their greenhouses are full of wonderful things, but for once, I resisted the urge and only bought a few herbs to put in a large pot on the patio.  Their plants looked a lot better than my seed starts, naturally, but mine are coming along.  I've already got a number of seedlings spending day and night outdoors, in a protected spot against the south side of the house.  I worry over them, but I think they'll be okay.  Of course, I'll be going back to Vintage Hill, so the temptation to buy more things than I can take care of is not necessarily past.

One of the plants I purchased is a Salvia called Golden Pineapple Sage.  While it's not something you'd eat, the leaves actually smell like pineapple.  It's supposed to have a fire engine red flower, but the picture doesn't look like it will be something particularly attractive.  I don't usually care for yellow-colored foliage, but I thought it might brighten up a large pot of all green herbs.  (The color on this photo isn't accurate - it's actually quite yellow.)

That's the back of the Salvia tag.  I've never seen that admonition on a plant tag before.  Perhaps because I don't look closely at the backs of the tags, but possibly because that would be a very difficult prohibition to enforce, so why waste the ink.

I also got a Patchouli plant.

I'd never seen one offered before.  Its leaves do indeed smell like patchouli.  I'm sure we won't be eating that.  At least, that is, if my mother doesn't think it's something else.  Last year she put cilantro in a dish calling for parsley.  I think her smeller is broken.  The patchouli plant doesn't look like something else you might eat, though, does it?  I think we're safe, but maybe I shouldn't put it in the herb pot.  I'll have to think about that.

I've also got my two seed starting trays in the cellar full with a second round of plantings and a first round of seedlings under lights.  The first round of Zinnias have a lot of dead tissue on the cotyledons and first set of true leaves.  The same problem is on the chinese cabbages I started indoors.  I haven't had this happen before, so I don't know what the problem is.  The Zinnias seem to be coming out of it, but the cabbages are not growing at all.

Damaged Zinnia seedlings

I thought it might be a problem with the potting mix.  I'm going to have to be sure to have enough seed starter mix (which is finer than regular potting soil and typically doesn't contain actual soil) to be able to get seeds started in the winter.  I bought what WalMart had in February, which was MiracleGro seed starting soil, so I figured it would be fine  - in both senses.  When I opened it, I was surprised to see that it looked like regular potting soil - much coarser than I expected.   If the mix was the problem, it didn't affect the Black Dahlia seeds I planted.  They took off and grew quickly.   The mixed Dahlia seeds I planted at the same time (that I got from the same seller as the Black Dahlias) haven't even come up.

Black Dahlia seedlings

It could also have been the seeds themselves, so I'll compare the Chinese cabbages that are coming up in the garden and a second indoor seeding of Zinnias and mixed Dahlias that are just coming up in a different brand of seed starter soil that's now available in the store.  The  Lisianthus and Jersey Wakefield cabbage seedlings I planted in that same mix are doing fine.

Jersey Wakefield cabbage seedlings

I seeded my intended poppy bed out in the wildflower garden  early - on the sixth of February when it was still Spring - and was beginning to despair of them coming up since there have been volunteers in the vegetable garden where I previously had some poppies since the 17th, but I was excited to see a couple of days ago tons of tiny little sprouts coming up where I planted them.  I thought I'd done a pretty good job of scattering them, but after whatever wind and little rain there was, they seem to be mostly clumped together in rivulet lines, so I'll still have to thin them.  But, hooray! They're up!

Last year I planted some Dianthus that came along as a free pack with some other seed I'd ordered, and the foiliage was lush, but they never flowered.  They made it through the winter, but they have a somewhat different look.  I'd cut them back except for a few stems that weren't damaged by the cold, so I'm going to be interested to see if the plants revert to all looking like those few elongated stems from last season, or even if they flower this year.  If they don't, they'll have to become compost.

One of the larger two Victoria rhubarb plants did sustain some freeze damage, but I cut it back quite a bit and I don't expect it to have any trouble coming out of it.  The other one that I covered is growing great. They're both flowering, and those heads will have to come off.  At least, that's what the literature says, and I always do it.  The idea is that the plant will put its energy into producing seed once the flowers emerge and stop putting it into the stems.

My little seedling rhubarbs are not doing much.  I hope they decide to grow faster when the weather turns warmer, but I'm concerned there's something I don't know about growing rhubarb from seed, because last summer I tried planting some seed, and they never got any bigger than these I started this winter are now.  I looked at a video about growing them from seed, and the guy growing them said they'll stop making much progress if they are outgrowing the pot, but mine still have plenty of soil room.  I won't give up yet, but I do feel discouraged, since these seedlings are varieties that are supposed to have very red stems (Holstein and Cherry Red), and that's what I'm looking for.

Top row: Kent Beauty ornamental oregano, Tutti Fruitti lupine; Middle 2 rows: rhubarb; Bottom row: Jersey Wakefield cabbage

Here's looking toward a new vegetable growing season and hopefully, some summer cut flowers, too.

Happy gardening.

One way to save Hyacinths from freezing temperatures!