February 22, 2016


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5 Easy to Grow Flowers

My garden in the Hudson Valley in mid summer. 
There is nothing more satisfying than a beautiful garden at the height of abundance. As seasons in the garden come and go I learned quickly what plants are keepers and which ones need not return. After 10 years in my garden and one book, I have tried many experiments.
The first thing I learned is that just about any vegetable plant that turns into a man eating vine like, pumpkins and cucumbers, are now firmly banished from the scene. They take up too much space and kill the grass.
My favorite flowers, vegetables and herbs that get replanted every year and are relatively carefree and abundant producers. The five easy to grow flowers listed here, can be planted from seed after the last frost and will produce reliable blooms throughout the season. They aren't bugged by pests and aren't particularly fragile, although they do need regular deadheading. The best way around that is to pick them often and enjoy them in the house or as centerpieces.  These are the back bone of my garden every year.

Zinnias. The butterflies are mad for them, the kaleidoscope of colors and varieties is endless and they bloom up until the first frost. The best.

Every year I plant cosmos, the Sensation Mix, in the back of the garden. They grow to about 5' and make a nice background for everything in front of them. They do need staking or they are prone to toppling over. I love the simplicity of the flowers - they remind of the first flowers kids learned to draw. Their lace foliage is nice in arrangements too. 
The best display of cosmos I ever saw was in a garden in the Loire. 
At Les Jardins de la Chatonniere where they were planted on a hillside. In a huge patch that must have been 50' by 25'. Hundreds if not thousands of cosmos were waving in the breeze. Remarkable.

Nicotiana or scented tobacco is a plant that freely reseeds and could be considered invasive, but the smell on a summer night is heaven. What's a little weeding to keep things in check when the reward is a stately plant with a beautiful scent? It's really great in large containers. 

The humble bachelor button was the favorite flower of Marie Antoinette. 
Available in a soft palette of blues, purples, pinks and a deep burgundy color make it perfect for my garden. They are great cut and are also edible. I use the flowers in ice cubes for water and other clear drinks as well in ice buckets. They will reseed.

The sweet nasturtiums tumbling over the ends of the beds in a profusion of blooms is a wondrous sight. They also work well in pots. There are numerous types and colors to choose from. I always opt for the dwarf types and the milky/white colors like Milkmaid. They can be trimmed back as needed and will reseed.