Summer Update

I can’t believe my last post was way back in early April. Major blogging FAIL. That just means I have lots of juicy bits to share with you including an entertaining mix of successes and failures.

As you may recall from January and February posts, I was aggressive with starting seeds indoors (which turned out to be a really fun way to get through those gray winter months). We experienced a fairly mild April and early May in Metro Detroit. Instead of following my instinct, I had a stellar idea of planting some seedlings outdoors, earlier than originally planned (May 3rd instead of May 18th).

Referencing the future forecast, there was no sign of overnight temps dipping anywhere near 32 degrees, so the planting commenced. Turns out that was a big, fat mistake. The weather took a turn and a cold front hit around May 6th, with promises of a hard freeze and frost which are deadly for young plants. This prompted us to make a quick run to Home Depot for low tunnel supplies, hoping to protect everything I had just planted. Needless to say, I used a lot of choice words, but there was no one to blame but myself. A few days after the weather warmed back up, we removed everything to assess the damage. Only a few seedlings were lost, others looked a little sad for a while but then bounced back. A close call and one mistake I’ll never make again.

My awesome husband built raised planters so I could create a cutting garden in our backyard. These currently sit in the driveway that would otherwise go unused. The raised beds were made a little later than expected, so I didn’t get the Bupurleum seeds in the dirt soon enough. I still had success growing them, the plants were just smaller. They’ve all been pulled up at this point but next year I’ll get them sown earlier.

I used one planter for dahlias which has been working out great, the warmer soil really helped expedite their growth. I had a lot of  bulbs, more than the planter would hold, and placed some in another garden. Unfortunately, the perennials in front of those bulbs grew at a quicker rate than the dahlias. Shade combined with overwatering resulted in 4 dahlias (including my favorite Cafe Au Laits) disintegrating into a pile of mush. Oops. I would definitely grow more dahlias in a raised planter, and keep the planter covered to prevent watering until there’s a good amount of foliage popping up.

I’ve really enjoyed all of the flowers started from seeds this year, most of them were new varieties for me. This was the first successful year growing stock, one of my favorite flowers that has an amazing spicy clove scent. I would’ve had a second flush of flowers, except for the aphids who decided the flowers and foliage would make an excellent nesting ground. I just ripped up all the plants up about two weeks ago.

This was also the first year experiencing success with sweet peas! Everyone raves about their scent, so I wanted to experience it myself. Nothing short of divine, floral and fruity. I was lucky to find some heat-resistant varieties and those lasted up until two weeks ago. I had a great month and a half of beautiful, fragrant blooms. At one point, they filled every room of my house. I even had plenty to give away to friends.

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I believe a major contributing factor to the success so far was largely in part to hardening off seedlings properly. It took a lot of work, shuffling seed trays back and forth inside and out for weeks on end, but the result was extremely worth it. Another great lesson for me was pinching plants per the instructions. It can be hard to force yourself to do this, but it increases the flowers you’ll eventually have.

My ultimate goal for growing all of these flowers was the ability to have a variety of options for bouquet-making. In that case, it’s been a huge success! I’ve been able to cut as many flowers as I want in order to create beautiful arrangements. I’ve also really enjoyed giving bouquets away to friends while practicing floral design. A win-win! I’ve also been researching and taking notes on the most ideal times for harvesting, and how to treat flowers after they’ve been cut in order to achieve the longest vase life. You check out the latest blooms and arrangements on my Instagram account.

I hope you’re staying cool this summer. If you live in the Metro Detroit area, it’s been a hot, dry one. My grass is sad, but my gardens are happy. July is peak flower season for me and the garden is pumping out some really gorgeous blooms including Strawflower, Zinnia, Amaranth, Chocolate Lace Flower, Queen Anne’s Lace, Coneflower, Hydrangea, Phlox, and the list goes on and on. Cosmos and Dahlias are just getting started, with Sunflowers not too far behind.

A few current favorites include Scabiosa Flowered Zinnia, Chocolate Lace Flower and Strawflower.

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What gardening lessons have you learned this season?

2 Comments

  1. Stevie said:

    I’d say MAJOR successes were had, and yes some minor disappointilments. The effort you put into this is INCREDIBLE! And the raised beds were ingenious. Have loved your arrangements all summer! Much more to come! {Fist bump} xoxo

    July 24, 2016
    Reply
    • thistleandvine said:

      FIST BUMP Stevie! The outcome has made the effort all worth it. Come on over and I’ll throw together an arrangement for you. XOXOXO

      July 24, 2016
      Reply

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