Flower Power - Random Reasonings

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Nero Wolfe, the famous fictional detective created by author Rex Stout, would spend hours every morning and afternoon on the 4th floor of his NYC brownstone tending his orchids. 

What makes the Nero Wolfe stories so re-readable for me isn’t just the compelling mystery plots; it’s also the fascinating information about orchids and gourmet foods that were part of Wolfe’s daily life.

Every Wolfe story made me want to try my hand at growing orchids. But I quickly discovered I didn’t have the patience or the talent to be an orchid hobbyist.

But I do grow flowers! Flowers are one of my biggest pleasures.

All my life I’ve wanted to grow a big garden of cutting flowers. It’s never happened. Mostly because I’ve never lived anywhere it was possible. Between too much hot weather (Florida), the Deer who eat everything (PA), and prior to that living where there was either too much shade or my yards were too small, it’s just never worked out for me.

Although for a few years I had gorgeous wildflower gardens at my husband’s ranch, with profuse blooms of flowers from spring to fall spreading color every where. I loved it! But when I couldn’t get back to PA in 2020 because of Covid travel lockdowns and restrictions, those wildflower gardens quickly became scraggly and over-grown without any one to take care of them.

For years I’ve been growing flowers in containers. My porch railings are always filled with containers of flowers. I have pots of flowers on my decks, porches, and patios.

It brightens my days to look out and see splashes of color and cheerful flowers everywhere. Today I’m enroute from Florida to Pennsylvania, and I have 10 packets of flower seeds with me so I can get started planting as soon as I get back.

I tribute my love of flowers to my grandmother. She always had flowers blooming everywhere.

The sidewalk that led to the stairs of her wrap-around-porch was lined with tall iris and delphinium, gorgeous colors of blue, lavender, and purple. Blue flowers are still my favorites.

Her hillsides were covered with flowering ground covers of phlox, alyssum, and creeping thyme. Heavenly blue morning glories always were climbing up any post or pole or railing placed where there was brilliant morning sun.

Her kitchen porch had trellises on both sides with climbing roses that bloomed from late spring into fall. The scent of roses is still something I associate with walking into grandma’s kitchen. There were flowering shrubs of all kinds, and a pavilion covered with wisteria.

Her yard was abuzz with color and fragrance, and especially with buzz. The bees loved her yard and showed their appreciation by pollinating her blooms.

None of her yard was the typical manicured garden you see in home décor magazines. She liked her flowers to look like mother nature had decided that was a good place for them.

She was doing pollinator friendly yards long before they were trendy.

Pollinator plants are especially important now. Bees need them and our bee populations are declining. Butterflies and hummingbirds need them to survive their migrations.

If you’re planning to grow flowers this summer, please make your flower gardens a pollinator haven. Here are a few favorites that the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds love!

Perennials: Lavender, Butterfly Weed, Phlox, Liatris, Yarrow, Cone Flowers, Black Eyed Susans, Asters, Allium, Lupine, Indian Paint Brush, Hollyhock, Joe-Pye Weed, Sedum, Foxglove, Salvia,  Delphiniums, and butterflies really love Milkweed.

Annuals: Sunflowers, Zinnias, Cosmos, Verbena, Ageratum, Pentas, Pin Cushion flowers, Nasturtiums, Alyssum, Petunias, and Lantana (which is a perennial in the south).

Shrubs: Monarda, Mock Orange, Honeysuckle, Columbine, Bleeding Hearts, Hydrangea, and Buddleia.

Vines: Morning Glories, Trumpet Vines, Wisteria, and Mandevilla.

Most of all, be sure to plant containers of Mint and let them flower. Bees really love love mint flowers. But  always keep the mint contained. It has an aggressive spreading root system. If you plant it in the ground be prepared for it to take over everything near it. And, with all that mint, you can enjoy mojitas mint tea, and mint juleps all summer long!

With a porch, deck, patio, or yard full of flowering blooms this year you’ll add color to your life and be making sure the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds have the nourishment they need to survive.

And that is genuine flower power!

“Gardening is how I relax. Its another form of creating and playing with colors.”

Oscar de la Renta

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