Category Archives: Purple Coneflower – Echinacea


It’s been over a decade

Since we have had

This kind of heat.

Generally I try not complain about the weather.

After all, my grandmother drove a conastoga wagon

From Iowa to Oklahoma when she was 18

During the summer.

What have I got to complain about!

Yet, somehow this feels different.

It is unrelenting.

I think we are on week 4 or 5

Of most days well over 100.

Keeping the garden alive

Can be a full time job

In years like this

If you haven’t prepared for it.

There are two things I did by instinct

That help my garden survive.

Granted not everyone wants a full blown perennial garden.

But adding perennials to your flower beds

Will save you time, money, water and worry.

Because perennials intend to survive

More than one season

They are more deeply rooted

Meaning they can take the slings and arrows

That nature is throwing these days.

Some even thrive on it.

So right now these things are not just surviving

But are actually happy in my garden.

And providing all the nector

The flock of buzzing pollinators living with us

Seem to need.

Happy perennials are Maxmillion Sunflower

Purple Coneflower, Tall Garden Phlox, Gloriosa Daisy,

Veronica Spicata and Sunny Border Blue and Verbena Bonariensis.

All of these not only come back but also spread.

No perennial gives more than Annabelle Hydrangea

And her cousin Incrediball.

Then there are the self seeding annuals

Zinnia, Sunflower, Cleome and the ever present Cockscomb.

These are the foundation of my high summer garden.

Other plants may bloom a little but these are the staples.

Even in this heat they only require water about every 5 days.

That, of course, is with drip irrigation.

Fifteen plus years ago when we built my garden

I ordered a really large roll of inline emitter drip line

From Dripworks.

1,000 feet of coiled drip line was like a giant snakey octopus

All over my backyard.

Once it was softened by the sun

And put into place

It has been the lifeline of my garden.

I connect the line to two faucets at opposite ends

Of the back of the garden.

We are lucky to have a well.

I turn them both on at once

And let them slowly drip for several hours.

That’s right.

I want the water to go deeply

To the low roots of even the biggest plant.

The water will draw the roots even deeper

Helping the plant survive

The 114 degrees predicted for next Tuesday

And the two weeks near zero

That will surely come next February.

I don’t know whether plants are like people

Or people are like plants.

But I do know that without my deep roots

And firm foundation

The last 2 1/2 years would have been

Even more difficult.

For me and my garden.



Filed under Annabelle Hydrangea, Bees, Bugs, Bumblebee, drip irrigation, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, HELIANTHUS, Maximillian Sunflower, Perennials, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, self seeding annuals, Sunflowers, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Veronica Spicata, Zinnia


Something weird is going on

In my garden.

You may remember from year’s past

That I have an errant Hollyhock.

Instead of growing in the back of the bed

It keeps plopping itself at the very front of the border.

It has done this for several years.

Each of those years I have dug it up

And moved it to the back

Where tall things are supposed to live

In a traditional perennial border.

Yet, year after year

It has had a front row seat.

Imagine how pleased I was

When this spring it stayed put

In the back.

And then…

This happened.

A bird must have dropped a sunflower seed

In the exact same spot

Where the hollyhock grew.

I should have just pulled it

When it was little.

But my gardener’s curiosity

Always gets the best of me.

I had to let it grow

To see what it becomes.

Since I’ve never planted 12 foot sunflowers

I had no idea that it would grow


Should I chop it down

Cutting it off from it’s moment of glory?

Can’t do that.

I can’t help but wonder

What is the lesson here?

What is it about this particular place

That always grows such giant plants?

Are they trying to tell me something?

Something I really need to learn?

Maybe the location has something to do

With getting my attention.

It might have gotten lost

Buried deep in the mass of Coneflower and Phlox.

It had to park at the front to be seen

And heard.

I wonder if we let this happens with people?

Do we get so busy that we let friendships

Get lost in the Coneflowers?

Gardens…the perennial teacher.


“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” –Karl A. Menniger


Filed under Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Sunflowers, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized


I was raised by depression era parents.

They were not over the top tight

But let’s just say I never leave a room

Without turning off the lights.

They were however

Extravagant in all the right places.

Loving, giving, sharing.

I’m a lucky lady.

What I experienced in childhood

Shows up over and over again

In my garden.

I guess that’s what you can attribute

My seed collecting to.


I simply can’t throw anything away

That might turn into a plant

In someone else’s garden.

The problem is

In a garden the size of mine

That’s a ton of seeds.IMG_3316

You can’t just let them all drop to the ground

Or your garden will become

Even more of a jungle.

Now seeds are generally tiny

So you would think I’d have room

To store endless amounts.

That’s what I thought

Till it got totally out of control.

Last spring

I dug all of my seeds out

From the places I’ve stashed them

And put them in these clear jars.


Plants like Purple Coneflower

And Gloriosa Daisies

Are just too big

Or too prickly

For the space I have.

Luckily my friend Martha

Has five acres that she is planting

To flowers for pollinators.

We garden together at Faith Farm

Twice a week.

So I’ve been taking

Grocery sacks full of deadheads

To her for the past several weeks.

I love finding good homes for things.

Right now my potting bench

Is covered with German Bearded Iris

Waiting to go back in the ground.

Some will go here

Others still need a home.

Zinnias are drying

Along side dahlias.


Dahlias are a new challenge for me.

I really don’t know what I’m doing with them yet.

Much research ahead of me.

So what do I do with all of this.

Some goes into my garden

But most are

“Up for adoption”.

Because there is only

So much Larkspur

And Cockscomb

A garden can handle.


I hope you will come by my house

This fall and make a few selections

From my seed inventory.

Because seeds need to be spread around

And given homes

Where they can take root.

Loving, giving, sharing.

Thanks Mom and Dad.






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Filed under cockscomb, Dahlias, Dead Heading, Fall, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Gloriosa Daisy, Larkspur, Nature, Perennials, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Uncategorized, Zinnia


You may not know this

But there are two “gardening deadlines”

Here in my Zone 7 garden

That fall on the 4th of July.

I’ve learned over the years

That the 4th of July is the last time

To plant Zinnias for fall bloom.


I know

Most of you planted yours weeks

If not months ago.

In my over-planted piece of this planet

I don’t have space for Zinnias

Until I pull up the Poppies and Larkspur

That have gone to seed.


Yesterday I went a little beyond just pulling up the dead stuff.

I went a little crazy.

My garden is now 11 years old.

As a result

It’s overgrown in may places.

So along with the waning Poppies and Larkspur

I dug up two Rose bushes

About a dozen blue Veronica Spicata

Several white Iris

Some Purple Coneflower


An a lonely Gloriosa Daisy or two.

Normally, I wouldn’t excavate quite so much

Especially since I have no idea who will adopt these plants

So, I’ve taken a new approach.

Let’s call it the “Urban Dumpster Method”.

In cities if you want to get rid of something

Just lean it against your dumpster

It will disappear long before

The Sanitation Department has a chance.

So this afternoon

I put my garden abundance on the curb

With a sign saying

“Free Plants

Take what you want – need a sunny home”.


When I last checked they were all still there.

I’m hoping for a swarm of midnight gardeners.

To take this stuff off my hands.

So I’ll feel good when I attack the rest of the garden


The second deadline has to do with mums.

If you have the old-fashioned kind

That grow and grow

This is the time to give them one last

Harsh trim

So that they will be thick and full

Come fall.

May have to fudge on this one a bit.

That’s what I love about gardening.

There’s always grace.





Filed under Calla Lily, Gloriosa Daisy, Larkspur, Perennials, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, roses, Uncategorized, Veronica Spicata, Zinnia


It’s the height of summer here.

Endless sunny days.

And because we had all those wonderful

Badly needed rainy days.

The humidity is back


So what’s a gardener to do.

This time of the year is basically for maintenance.

Deadheading and weeding and watering are the order of most days.

I love it because it can all be done in little snippets of time.

But there is one more activity for high summer.

Flower arranging.


For some reason I don’t bring a lot of flowers into my house.

I have a few here and there

But mostly we enjoy them from the inside of the house

Or on the morning garden walk.

So it’s great fun

When I have a reason to make flower arrangements.

Friday night was just such a reason.

We were one of several host couples

For a shower for our minister Andrew

And his bride to be Katie.


Now it’s too hot to have the party in my garden

So it was held at a local lodge.

Decades ago it was part of an amusement park

And has been lovingly restored.

So along with chamber music

Yummy food


Including crab claws In honor of Andrew’s Maryland roots

Family from home


Church members

And local friends

We needed flower arrangements

And lots of them – 26 to be exact.

First order of business

Find 26 vases.

I’m embarrassed to say that 25 of them

Were alive and well living in my garden house!

The schedule went like this.

Weekend before dig out all the vases

And wash them

Tuesday the vases were taped with cross hatch pattern

To hold the flowers in place.

It was also the day to cut Euonymous.


And Hydrangeas.


They last for days if you sear the end as soon as you cut it

And let them rest in buckets of water up to their necks.

Wednesday morning Linda came to help with the harvest.


We cut buckets of Phlox, Purple Coneflower, Dahlia & Dusty Miller

We added bits of White Balloon Flower, Veronica Spicata, Hellebore leaves and blooms.

Linda and Virginia each cut a bucket of Zinnias – one fuchsia and one pale pink.

I even used the blooms on the radishes that should have been pulled long ago.

Wednesday night the arranging began.


Linda, David, Mary and Gay came on Friday morning to complete the arranging

And haul it all to the lodge.

It takes a village!


Friday was a warm evening.

Not just the temperature.

But the people, the place and the occasion.

There’s something wonderful about small towns.

When I looked around the room

There were people I had known for decades.

We have raised our children together.

We have buried our parents together.

We have thrown a million wedding and baby showers together.

We have welcomed newcomers together.

Those newcomers have become new friends.

What is there to do in a garden

In the mid- summer heat?

Share it.


Photo Credit David Meara



Filed under Bouquets, Bridal Showers, Dahlias, Dead Heading, Euonymus, Flower Arrangements, Garden House, Hellebores, Hydrangea, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Radishes, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Vases, Veronica Spicata, Wedding Flowers, Zinnia


One of the things I love about gardeners

Is there willingness to share.

I’ve mentioned this before.

Sharing is so prevalent

It’s even  been given a name.

Pass Along Plants.

Sally's Pass Along Larkspur

Sally’s Pass Along Larkspur

Most well-kept gardens

Produce babies.

Lots of them. 

And there’s a need to find them each a good home.

At least that was true when I first started gardening.

After all I had been given plants by my friend Sally to start my garden.

I should certainly pay it forward

When the time came.

The truth is it’s impossible to find each seedling a new little bit of heaven.

But I still try.

Twice this season I’ve had the chance to share lots of plants.

First my friend Mary wanted to fill in some empty spaces in her flower beds.

She moved a few of her things around.

Divided some hostas

And dug from my garden.

Ferns, Gloriosas, Purple Coneflowers, Larkspur.

And a Rosebush which had a Helianthus growing up the middle.

Then last weekend Megan came.

Megan & her trunk full of plants

Megan & her trunk full of plants

She got here as I was finishing up the big dahlia dig.

So she got a bit of this and a bit of that.

Ferns, Stella d’ Ora Daylilies, a mystery Day lily,

Two pieces that fell off one the Blushing Bride Hydrangeas.

They are real babies, but patience will reward her.

More Gloriosa Daisies, Purple Coneflowers, tall garden Phlox and Larkspur.

A Butterfly Bush

Dahlia tubers

Tiger lily bulbs that appeared in the mail without being ordered.

And volunteer Hellebores – which I’ve never had to offer before.

Then we hit the leftover seeds for more goodies.

We dug

And visited

And laughed

And remembered our “professional” gardening days together.

During her Junior High and High School days.

It gives new meaning to sharing.

Sharing gardens

Sharing lives.

The timing was perfect

Just as the Larkspur was hitting full stride.

Larkspur & Friend

Larkspur & Friend

The Larkspur growing from seeds given to me by Sally

Who got it from her mother.

Generations of plants ago.

Life is good.

Gardening makes it even better!



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Filed under Dahlias, Ferns, Gardening, Gloriosa Daisy, HELIANTHUS, Hellebores, Hosta, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Seeds, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized


The late summer garden.

There comes a time in summer

When you have to decide.

Let the blossoms linger

Or…cut them back so that they can bloom again in fall.

That’s what I’ve spent much of the last week doing.

Cutting back.

Deadheads from this week's efforts.

I may be a bit late.

It’s always hard to tell.

After all we don’t know when the first freeze will come.

At this point we can hardly imagine a freeze at all.

But before we know it we’ll be looking back at this summer.

We get a lot of bad press in this part of the country about weather

Much of it self-inflicted

Some people gripe about gardening here.

But for me the truth is this is a great place to garden.

We have 4 distinct seasons.

Granted they get a little confused some years.

And occasionally we miss one all together.

But almost every year I can garden for 9 months.

Sometimes 10.

What more can you ask for.

When one of my first gardening clients, Liz, died on New Year’s Eve.

I remember going into my yard to cut a few flowers to add to an arrangement to take to her home.

Liz loved arranging flowers. 

She was an artist.

She knew color and scale.

Even on days when she wasn’t feeling well I would find her out in her cutting garden when I came by for the weekly maintenance.

Frequently there will be daffodils and hellebores on Valentine’s Day.

But in order to do this you have to plan and…

You have to be ruthless this time of year.

It also means that you’ll have less color for a few weeks.

Unless, of course, you planted zinnias during late June.

The purple wedding zinnias are starting to bloom.

Then, they will pick up the slack when it comes to garden color.

My friends Martie and Cheri have both reported the first zinnia blooms in the last few weeks.

The Monarch Butterflies will be grateful to them.

Soon they’ll begin their flight to their winter home in Mexico.

The sunny flat faced blossoms of zinnias give them all the food they need for the trip.

Zinnias awaiting visitors

There have been years where they absolutely come in flocks to dine on late summer zinnias.

So what you may ask am I whacking away at.

Tall garden phlox.

Too tall phlox

This year it’s been really tall since I didn’t get it cut back in the spring.

And for some reason I haven’t cut much of it for arrangements.

Along with phlox other hot summer staples Gloriosa Daisies and Purple Coneflower have gotten harsh hair cuts.

Pladycodan (Balloon Flower) also got whacked severely.

Shasta Daisies are still blooming. 

Just deadhead them to keep them going.

No severe treatment here.

Though I do need to dig and divide them come fall.

Basically this time of year there’s not much else to do but deadhead and weed.

Or in simpler terms putter.

And enjoy!


P.S. I know I’m repeating myself, but I’m seeing more and more trees around town in
severe stress.  Drag a hose to any tree or shrub at your house and let it trickle.
Move it in concentric circles for a day or two.  Soak it slowly to go deeply. 
You’ll actually hear them thank you!


Filed under Dead Heading, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, late summer garden, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Shasta Daisy, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Zinnia


In his later years my dad was concerned about “going to seed”.

Well into his 80’s he was trying to keep the same pace of his busy life.

His theory was if  ” I sit down I’ll go to seed.”

Not something a farmer was interested in doing.

Parkinson’s disease slowed his pace but it never
stopped him.

The truth is his mind was a fertile seed bed.

Ideas grew there for almost 9 decades.

On a Thursday in September he called a meeting of long time trusted associates.

He traveled out-of-town to attend.

The topic was his latest idea to improve his beloved state.

He reminded them that he wouldn’t be around forever and that someone needed to take charge of this project.

A seed planted.

He died early the next Tuesday morning.

Having never gone to seed!

What a gift to him – to us.

But going to seed is in some ways a good thing.

A way forward.

A continuation.

Of ideas.

Of plants.

And that’s how it is in my garden.

Much of it goes to seed this time of year.

As I walk through the path the soft fern like leaves of spring’s Larkspur

Now rattle like a morocco.

Dried Larkspur

It’s time.

Pull them up.

Cut them down.

Shake a few into the garden for next year.

Think forward.

“To everything there is a season.”

The 3 day 4th of July weekend was spent doing just this.

Rising early I pulled up a mountain of Larkspur plants.

Next I cut the tall stems of Hollyhock to the ground.

Separating the pink from the red – I hope.

Then a little aggressive cutting back of purple Veronica Spicata.

Followed by the Purple Coneflower.

Purple Coneflower at peak bloom

And presto!

More open spaces for the last of the zinnia seeds.

And just in time for my self imposed deadline of the 4th!

Life is good!

So now the question of what to do with all those seed bearing plants.

Can’t compost them because it doesn’t get hot enough to actually kill the seed.

And too much of a good thing in the garden is well….a mess.

I’ll first let them finish drying.

On the floor of my garden house.

Pink Hollyhocks drying on the garden house floor

Outside on my old potting bench tucked into a shady corner.

Then, I’ll harvest some.

This year the rest are going to my sister Ann.

She’s just finished lots of work on the dam of the “big pond”.

It’s totally bare.

After a little ground work she’s going to spread them out and see what happens.

A wild idea.

The kind Daddy would like.




Filed under hollyhocks, Larkspur, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized


There comes a time in the garden

When things change.

It’s a subtle change most years.

But you know it’s coming.

With this week came the transition from spring to summer.

(Although the heat dome seems to have confused us a bit.)

Nature is so wise.

Spring flowers can survive cool or even cold weather.

But not heat.

A hotter than usual spring means the flowers come and go quickly.

I don’t like it when that happens.

Summer flowers can take the heat.

They bask in it.

So nature in her wisdom gave us summer flowers for those hot days.

They begin their reign around the first day of summer.

The work horses of the summer garden are

Gloriosa Daisies  (Rudbeckia)

Gloriosa Daisies - Rudbeckia

Purple Coneflowers  (Echinacea)

Purple Coneflowers courtesy of Debra

Shasta Daisies

Shasta Daisy - I think this variety is "Alaska"

Tall Garden Phlox –Daylilies – Zinnias – Cosmos

We’ll visit each of these over the summer

But this week let’s begin at the top of the list.

Gloriosa Daisies (Rudbeckia) are like sunshine. 

Glorious Gloriosa Daisy

Their bright sunny faces start appearing in June and will continue till fall if deadheaded.

As with most flowers the first blush of the season is the biggest and boldest.

You can start them in your garden with seeds or with plants.

There are many varieties – some solid yellow some with brown centers.

The only variety I’m not crazy about is Goldstrum Rudbeckia.

I like the flower OK, but it’s growth habit is a problem for me.

Within the first year or two it will form a large dense clump.

Th kind of clump you think of with major shrubs. 

It’s a big too aggressive for the average backyard garden.

If you have a field to cover then be my guest.

Gloriosa patches have planted themselves here and there throughout my garden.

Some are short with small blooms.

Others are bigger and bolder.

Since many of my garden plants are pass along plants I don’t know many variety names.


My first Gloriosa’s came from my friend Sally early one December.

A backhoe was in her garden and she lifted plants as quickly as she could rescue them.

I was the lucky recipient.

She had gotten them from her mother’s garden.

Gloriosas are especially pretty in early June next to purple Larkspur.

Gloriosas and Larkspur

Nature has a wonderful sense of color that way – arranging for complementary colors to bloom at the same time – such wisdom.

So plant them in full sun and they’ll reward you each year.

They’ll even make babies if the last seed heads are left on in the fall.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) has much in common with Gloriosas.

They both have a daisy like flower.

They like sun – though Echinacea will also do well in part shade.

They will rebloom if deadheaded through the summer.

And make babies from seed pods left alone late in the season.

They also make patches of color in the June garden.

The petals of Echinacea begin life standing straight out.

Newly opened Echinacea blossoms

After a day or two they begin to droop.

Just a fun addition to their personality.

Shasta Daisies belong in this group.

Bright open flowers.

Straight stems.

Same self seeding habit.

Lover of sun.

Debra captured this bee visiting a sunny Shasta Daisy

You can divide Shastas by dividing the clump in spring or fall.

Or from deadheads dropped along the way.

Because these flowers produce lots of blooms they are great for cutting.

Buckets of flowers cut from my garden waiting to be arranged.

Flower arrangements summer 2010 - ready to party!

You’ll still have many left even after making the biggest arrangement imaginable.

Summer arrangement June 2010

Cutting instructions are almost the same for all three.

Cut when the petals are open, but the center disk is tight.

Condition for several hours or overnight beginning with slightly warm water.

Strip the foliage off Echinacea and Shasta’s.

Leave it on for Gloriosas and also split the bottom of these stems about an inch or two.

You can do the same to the others if the stems are old and woody.

Gloriosa’s can be a bit picky and wilt down easily.

I find that it’s best to cut them at the joint rather than cutting so long with several branches jointing out.

I don’t remember this every time and have killed a few along the way.

So there you have it.

Three great choices for the “dog days of summer”.



Summer's "Dog Days" flowers in full bloom


Filed under Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Shasta Daisy, Uncategorized