Category Archives: Columbne


You may remember earlier this spring I talked about wanting to learn more about
growing vegetables.

Working them into my existing perennial beds.

I decided that this was the year I would focus on Sugar Snap Peas.

See if I could improve on the yield.

I got them in right on time and they have rewarded me.

Looks like a good crop. 

Then just last week I reported that Peg, our Scottie, likes them.

It was even cute that John and Cassidy were feeding them to her.

It’s not cute anymore.

Earlier this week I was out picking a few peas when I heard a snap behind me.

Peg was helping herself.

I scolded her and went on about my evening.

When I went to the garden the next morning an entire row of peas had been

Peg in her zest to “eat local” had tromped down and munched through the row.

She promptly started on the next row.

We even caught her with pea stems hanging out of her mouth.


Well the whole area has now been fenced.

And re-fenced since she has broken in a couple of times.

I stopped just short of razor wire.

I’m sure she has fence marks all over her nose from breaking in.

So far the fencing is holding.

Hopefully I can outwit a Scottish Terrier!!!



The beginning of June is a glorious time in my garden.

The larkspur continues with its vivid purple.

It’s complemented by the gold of Stella d’ Ora miniature day lilies.

Asiatic Lilies begin to bloom.


Poppies are opening up here and there.

They are interesting at all stages.

From their droopy buds

To their short-lived blooms

To their seed pods left to dry out and reseed for the next year.

Self-seeding annuals provide a lot of fill-in flowers in my garden.

As well as tons of cutting potential.

A self-seeding annual is a flower that if left to mature ie. dry out in the
garden will drop seeds and make lots of babies next year.

So even though the plant does not make it through the winter you will likely have
that type of plant in your garden each year.

You just never know where they will pop up.

The flowers that self-seed in my garden are Columbine, Poppies, Larkspur, Hollyhock,
Cleome and Cockscomb.


I also get a few Zinnias.

Now…this  sounds like a good deal.

And it is…to a point.

Free seeds.

No planting.

But you have absolutely no control over when they come up.

Or where they come up.

Or how many come up.

And because I compost the old plants at the end of their lives I end up with plants


This is most true of Cleome and Cockscomb.

They lay a carpet of seedlings.

There comes a time when some of them have to go.

Yes, friends, Peg is not the only murderess at our house.

I’ll spend the week pulling up and composting thousands of baby plants.

So how do I decide who lives and who dies?

There are a few bits of logic to apply here.

Since both Cleome and Cockscomb will get about shoulder high I will start at the
front of the garden.

Everything within the first foot of the edge should go.

Now, I do this every year but somehow they find their way back.

Next I’ll make sure that they are not growing up in the middle of other plants –
like rose bushes and tomatoes.

Then I’ll pull them up from the middle of the paths.

Cockscomb and Cleome gone wild in path

And finally I’ll go into the open areas and thin away.

A few years back I thought I’d just let them all live and see what happens.

Not a good idea.

They are so crowded that nothing really matures and comes into its own.

So…it has to be done.

Come fall I’ll be glad. 

My garden will turn from the pales of early spring

To the hot colors of the heat of summer

Followed by the richness of fall.

Cockscomb will come fully into its own.

Fall flower arrangement with cockscomb

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now I’ll just thin.

Knowing that it’s the best thing for everyone.





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Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Columbne, hollyhocks, self seeding annuals



Perhaps it’s time for a little catching up.

A review of where I am this spring.

Remember the roses that froze to the ground last winter?

Well, they are doing quite well and….

They are still pink!

The roses and peonies were in full glorious bloom last week when we had an unfortunate few days of mid to high 90 degree weather – with wind.

As it happens some years, the bloom life of these glorious spring standards was shortened.

I hate it when that happens.

But it’s a fact of gardening life.

So…I’ll begin dead-heading a bit earlier than usual.


Sounds like a rock band doesn’t it!

It’s actually one of the most important things I do to keep my garden blooming all season.

Dead-heading is simple.

It’s removing the spent blooms of plants so that they can begin the bloom cycle again.

Now…not every plant will re-bloom.

Peonies for instance do not.  So you just remove the stems of the spent blooms to tidy them up a bit and leave them be for the rest of the season.

I don’t usually cut mine back to the ground until the next spring when new growth appears.

Iris both German Bearded and Dutch also should also have their bloom stems cut back as far as possible once the last buds have bloomed.

Spent bloom stems of German Bearded Iris waiting to be dead headed.

But…leave the greenery to die back on it’s own.

We’ll fiddle with them a bit more later on in the season.


Many roses on the other hand will repeat bloom if you deadhead.

Hybrid tea roses and any old-fashioned rose that is remonant or repeat bloomers will give you more flowers.

To dead head them cut off the spent bloom to at least the first set of 5 leaves.

If the rose-bush needs shaping you can cut them even further down the cane.

Pink Belinda's Dream rejuvenated and ready for dead heading.


That’s it – no big mystery here.

For me it’s kind of a zen experience.

Doesn’t require loads of concentration so you can lose yourself in this bit of gardening.

And…you’ll be rewarded with new buds and blooms within a few weeks.

Now, the spring flush is by far the most breathtaking but the scattered blooms throughout the season bring me great joy.


Then there are things that I don’t dead head.

I want them to go to seed.

Digitalis or Foxglove are among them. 



I’ve worked hard to get them going in my garden and I want them to spread so I’m restraining myself from cutting any for a few more years.

Hopefully someday I’ll have patches of their amazing towers of bell-shaped blooms all over the place.

A closer look.

Columbine is a mix of these methods.

The more you cut it the more it blooms.

But at some point usually when it starts to warm up I quit cutting and let it go to seed.

Once the seed heads have dried up – late June or so – I’ll pick them and scatter them in shady areas.

It’s worked pretty well in my loamy soil and I have new columbine babies each year.

Self seeded Columbine by the garden bench.

I’ll give more deadheading instructions as the season goes along.


Other activity includes finally planting my Caladium and Elephant Ear bulbs.

I’m a little behind on those but better a little late than too early with bulbs.

Remember – both of these like to be planted in the shade though their faces can extend into the sunshine.

The basic rule with any bulb is to plant them as deep as the bulb itself.

Not a big deal for Caladiums,

But…you’ll have to dig a BIG hole for the Elephant Ears!

Both will have to be dug in the fall here in zone 7.

Since we are expecting a week of glorious low 70’s weather I think I’m going to finally transplant a Blushing Bride Hydrangea to a new roomier home – got a little carried away with my purchasing a few springs ago – no big surprise.

This morning Pam cut flowers and made them into bunches to sell at the Farmer’s Market tomorrow.

I’ve added some herbs – Rosemary, Sage and Mojito Mint along with bags of mixed lettuce.

So drop by the coop table at Grand & Garriott between 8 & 11.

 Flowers, herbs and lettuce ready for Saturday's market.

Last weekend I spent time with Elliott and Kristina in their garden.

We planted new Dahlias – one of Kristina’s favorite, set out tomatoes and peppers and put out Lady Bugs.

Giving lady bugs a new home.


But mostly we simply enjoyed being in their garden, having meals in the garden, talking about gardening and visiting the nursery. 

As Elliott was growing up I sometimes wondered what part of that experience he would take with him into his adult life.

Although he didn’t really garden much then he was constantly exposed to this need to dig in the soil and grow things in our home and with both sets of grandparents.

It stuck.

He is drawn to the earth.

I am thankful.

Enjoy this glorious weather.






Filed under Columbne, Dead Heading, Digitalis, Farmer's Market, Gardening;Perennials, Peonies, roses