Summer garden's create excitement after a long winter!

Bragg Rose Gardens 2014
Bragg Rose Gardens 2014
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Wonderful Perennials - Black Eyed Susan



This perennial flower is the queen of the summer garden, with its golden-yellow petals and dark brown to black, cone-shaped centers. These perennials come in many flower sizes, heights and foliage texture but are unmistakable in your garden. The Black-eyed Susan can grow almost anywhere as long as the location is sunny. This is a plant native to North America and I am sure you have seen it growing in open fields or even along the side of the road, along with other wildflowers.


In your perennial border, the Black-eyed Susan will bloom profusely for up to 3 months and provide you with an endless supply of cut flowers. If you do not cut all the flowers for the house, the butterflies will have a field day in your garden, along with the bumblebees.


In the late fall and early winter, the seeds in the black cones will attract hungry birds like finches and chickadees. When you see the birds on the black cones, you know it's the best time to remove some of the cones and break them apart to scatter the seed in your garden. In the spring, new seedlings will develop where you scattered the seed heads, giving you free plants for your gardens.


Black-eyed Susans will grow in almost any soil, as they are native to dry fields where the soil is not rich and fertile. They must have a well-drained soil and a sunny location but will tolerate partial shade. In a partial shade garden, you will have to stake plants, as they will stretch for the sun. The plant will produce fewer flowers in partial shade but is still worth the effort.


Cutting flowers for the house will also stimulate the plant to make more flower buds and continue to flower. Removing some of the mature black cones on the plant will do the same and you can crush up those cones for seeds for your garden. Just sprinkle them on the ground, as it is not necessary to cover the seed. You can plant seeds in the spring or fall but fall-planted seeds have a better chance to flower the following summer. You can also divide the plant in the spring to make several new plants.


The foliage is dark green and oval, coming to a point; it has a small hair-like growth on the leaf. This hair-like growth is found on the stems of the plant also. The leaf texture and size will vary from variety to variety. The plants will grow from 24 to 40 inches tall and spread 12 to 24 inches wide, depending on the variety. The plant will spread in your garden as it matures and drops seeds that the birds do not eat, but it will not become invasive.


Insect and disease problems are minimal but if you water the garden at night, powdery mildew can become a problem on the foliage. Powdery mildew can be controlled with a couple of applications of Natria disease control at the first sign of development on the plant. Plants do much better in gardens WITHOUT irrigation, so remember wildflower conditions, hot, sunny and dry.


The rudbeckias or Black-eyed Susans are also great for mass plantings, perennial gardens, cut flower gardens, meadow or open field plantings as a wild flower; you can even plant them in large containers like whiskey barrels for summer color. Feed plants in the spring with a granular organic fertilizer like Flower Tone or Dynomite . For bigger plants apply Protilizer or Ideal Organix Mycorrhizae  in May and June to build a stronger root system. In the fall, after the birds have cleaned the cones, cut the plants right to the ground. I consider this perennial one that you must have in your garden.  Enjoy!




Turtle head flowers for great summer color!


We all enjoy the wildflowers growing on the side of the road, like the wild lupine in the spring time, the summer-flowering white daisies and Queen Ann's lace and in the fall the wild miniature flowering asters and goldenrod. Today, I want to tell you about one wildflower that you want in your garden because it is trouble free, it will grow almost anywhere and it will flower from late August into October. This very hardy perennial is called the turtlehead and it thrives from Manitoba to Newfoundland in Canada and south to Georgia and Arkansas.


The turtlehead gets its name from the flowers it makes, because they resemble the head of a turtle. The plant makes the flowers on the top of the stems and they develop as a spike flower much like the snapdragon flower. Each individual flower will grow from 1 to 1.5 inches long; it is tubular with a puffed end like the head of a turtle that will split open resembling its lips and mouth. The flowers open from the bottom of the spike and work their way up the spike slowly lasting for 6 to 8 weeks on the plant.


The flower color will range from white to pink and even shades of red. The plant will grow 2 to 3 feet tall as a single stem that develop from the base of the plant making it a wonderful cut flower for your home. The plant spreads with underground roots creating a thick clump of foliage and flowers in the late summer. Purchase the plants in pots from spring to fall and give them room to grow, as they will spread to 3 to 4 feet wide in just 3 to 4 years.


The foliage is deep green and the leaf is oval in shape, 2 to 3 inches long with tiny teeth along its edge. The foliage is also shiny and very clean looking compared to most perennials in our garden. The plant will grow very thick once established in your garden and this foliage is rarely troubled with insect and disease problems. The stems are very stiff and strong growing and seldom fall over with stormy weather; no maintenance needed to hold plants up like so many other tall growing perennials.


If you want to propagate the plant it is best to divide the plant in the spring time. Use a garden trowel or spade and split the plant into small clumps when the plant grows to 3 to 6 inches tall during May. These clumps will still flower for you in the late summer if you care for them during the growing season.


Turtleheads will grow in full sun to full shade garden, a bit taller in the shade. They love a rich soil and the better you prepare the soil the larger the plant will grow and produce more flowers for you. Condition the soil with compost, animal manure or peat moss and be sure to work it deep into the ground to stimulate a strong root system. If your soil is on the sandy side, be sure to add Soil Moist Granules as these plants love moisture, clay type soils and will even thrive in wet soils. Soil acidity is not a concern for this plant either.


This is the perfect plant for a garden in the shade and where water is a problem, as it grows wild near streams and river banks. If you have land where skunk cabbage and ferns are the only plants that grow, this is your plant to change the look of that area, but it will also grow in the average garden. It will soak up a lot of water in the ground, helping to change the character of your yard when planted as a wild flower. The foliage and flowers will add a lot of character to a wild fern growing area on your property.


Turtleheads love water, so remember that if the summer weather gets to be hot and dry, you will have to water them regularly--especially the first year you plant them in your garden--to encourage flower production in the fall. Fertilize in the spring only to help it get started properly and the plant will take care of itself the rest of the year without much care. Once the plants are established they are almost self-sufficient.


Plant turtlehead perennials this summer in your perennial garden for late summer to fall color. The plant will look great when planted along the edge of tall trees or along a wooded area. If you live near the ocean, a lake or beside a river edge, this is a wonderful plant because it will tolerate rough weather where wind is a problem. Turtlehead will tolerate winter temperatures to minus 30 degrees below zero without any type of winter protection. You can also plant turtlehead near drainage ditches, along the side of the road or in front of cattails as a border planting for summer color in places where it is difficult to grow flowers.

In the fall collect the seed pods from the plant once they turn brown and break them open so you can scatter the seeds in a meadow to add to the wildflowers already growing there now. Seedlings will flower the second year they are planted. The pink flowering types of turtleheads will flower the longest time in your garden or in the wild.


You can also plant the turtlehead as a ground cover to prevent soil erosion or on a steep slope where mowing could become a problem. This is just a nice plant for your garden with many uses, so get out this weekend and plant some. Enjoy.


Keukenhof Gardens | World Beautiful Flowers | Tulip Garden
Keukenhof Gardens | World Beautiful Flowers | Tulip Garden
Russian Sage delicate and beautiful


If you have a flower garden that is sunny, hot, and dry, with well drained soil, do I have a perennial flower to add to your garden--and it is in bloom right now. This perennial, called Russian sage, is one that once you see it, you will not forget it--and you must get one for your garden. The foliage is gray-green, fuzzy, with woody stems, almost like a small shrub.


In the spring, the foliage develops on these woody stems that grow like a clump of arching branches--going in all directions. The new growth is gray-white, attractive and eye-catching. When the foliage finishes filling the plant, the flowers begin to form in late May and continue to grow and flower well into the fall.


The flower stems will grow two to three feet tall; these stems are covered with hundreds of small 1/2-inch tubular flowers that open up like a lipstick, and the tip opens to resembles two lips. The flowers are lavender-blue and the plant has so many flowers on the stems that it almost looks like a blue cloud in your garden. Most plants will bloom for 3 months or more.


Most people who see this plant are surprised in the spring as it is like other perennials that die back to the ground almost. Do not cut back the plant in the fall like other perennials; in the spring wait until the new growth begins to develop, as some new growth will develop on branches above the ground as well as from the base of the plant. Once the growth starts then you can cut back the dead branches made last year.


The plant will grow three to five feet tall and spread two to four feet wide during the summer. Plants do not need staking, as a plant that grows wild looking is better looking . Russian sage is hardy to -10 to -20 degrees, but keep the plants out of windy exposed areas if you live in a cold wintery climate. They will do best against a building or fence to break the winter winds but will tolerate the cold.


Select a location in full sun, as this plant will flower more if planted in bright and hot sunny location. In a garden against a brightly painted house, against a fence or planted in a rock garden that warms up early and stays hot all season long--that is what they love. The second thing they must have is a soil that is well- drained and never has standing water--like a raised flowerbed or on the side of a sloping hillside.


If you have a clay soil this plant is not for you! When you plant, be sure to add compost to the soil to help hold moisture so the roots can develop easily but once the plant is established its on its own. Water weekly and feed often with liquid fertilizer like Neptune's Harvest fish and sea or Blooming and rooting from Fertilome the first year to help establish the roots. Once established, feed in the spring with Plant-Tone and a couple times during the summer with a mycorrhizae based fertilizer to help form a larger plant and more flowers.


I like to use Russian sage plants in perennial borders as a background plant, in a cut flower bed (and it does make a great cut flower), or in mass-planting shrub beds with evergreen plants as a background. Plants do very well and look fantastic in areas with large stones sticking out of the ground. Plant in a row up against a tall evergreen hedge and the blue flowers will jump out at you. Ask for 'Blue Mist' or 'Blue Spire' varieties for your garden at your local garden center or nursery.


Mulch plants with 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch when planting to help hold the heat in the ground longer, start to warm up the ground sooner in the spring and protect the roots during the winter. Enjoy!


"In order to live off the garden, you practically have to live in it."
Kin Hubbard
Beautiful Flowers & Gardens (With Floating Rose Petals)
Beautiful Flowers & Gardens (With Floating Rose Petals)



Beautiful Glads for cutting



Gladiolus is one of a few summers flowering bulbous plants that most everyone can recognize, even non-gardeners. The foliage is sword-like and develops on the side of an upright stem. All the flowers develop on one side of this spike, opposite and just above each other, are irregular in shape but in the form of an open trumpet. This type of a flower is called a tapering flower spike; the gladiolus is also called the "Sword Lily" in Europe.


Gladioulus is one of the most popular summer-flowering bulbs, just because it is so beautiful and easy to grow. And you can save the bulb after the first frost, store it in your basement and replant the following spring. The gladiolus originated in South Africa and was brought to northern-hemisphere gardeners thanks to explorers many years ago, in 1774. The bulb has gone through many changes from the original plant to today's new hybrids. Hybridization has created many new colors, color combinations, flower sizes, plant heights--and even double flower types.


Gladiolus bulbs are classified botanically as CORMS, not true bulbs but that is OK--it is easier for us to find and understand these wonderful plants. They are remarkably easy to grow anywhere in your garden, well-drained soil as long as it receives plenty of sun during the day. Plant bulbs in a garden where the soil has been conditioned before you plant with organic matter like compost and animal manure and watch the flowers grow bigger, the plant taller--and the flowers will last longer in your garden.


They will not do well in a clay type soil that stays wet after a good rain or watering, as bulbs will rot in the ground easily. If your soil is all clay-like and heavy, purchase a whiskey barrel and plant them as a container plant for midsummer color. They do grow tall but do not need to be staked as their stems are very strong and will hold the many flowers without falling over. Wind-swept areas should be avoided, when possible, to prevent damage to stems.


As a cut flower, gladioli will brighten up any room and usually last for well over a week. The flowers open from the bottom of the stem first and slowly move up the stem until most of the flowers have opened. The stem will have as many as eight to ten flowers open at the same time, making a colorful tall arrangement in a vase on your table. As the lower flowers fade, remove them and re-cut the stems to keep the arrangement looking fresh and clean. If the weather is hot, add ice every morning to the vase to help slow down the rate of opening.


Gladioli are in the same family of plants as the iris; look at the leaves of both plants and see the similarities. Gladioli that stay in the garden will flower longer that when cut and put in a vase of water. Plant in the spring when the ground has warmed up and the weather is frost-free. If you plant early and the weather is cold and wet, your bulbs could rot in the ground--so wait!

Plant bulbs three inches deep and space bulbs six inches apart to give them room to grow. I always add Soil Moist to help hold moisture if soil is sandy, and to grow stronger plants, a fertilizer that contains Mycorrhizae, like Bulb-Tone or Biotone by Espoma.


In the fall when the frost kills the foliage to the ground, pull up the plant from the ground and you will notice that there are now TWO bulbs together. Remove the foliage from the top of the bulbs and discard the lower bulb. The lower bulb was the original bulb you planted in the spring and it has formed a new bulb during the summer and sent all its energy to it for next year. If you cared for it properly, the top bulb should be larger and stronger.


Store your bulbs in an old pair of panty hose and hang them from the rafters in your basement for the winter. I also add a bit of Rose and Flower Dust to them just to keep winter insects off. Enjoy.





                                       The best cornbread  you ever ate Southern Style


Corn bread is a southern delicacy and a must when eating any type of pork or beef meat, especially ribs!  The edges are crispy and the center has a wonderful gritty texture that is intensified with a bit of butter or honey.  The secret to making the best corn bread you ever had is to use a seasoned cast iron skillet.  Use either white or yellow corn meal; I prefer the yellow as it is a bit coarser.  Add a tablespoon of fat or Crisco, add it to your skillet to melt before adding the mixture for a crisp crust.



6 Tablespoons of butter, softened

2 Jumbo eggs

1 cups of yellow cornmeal

1 cup of all-purpose flower

1 tablespoon of flower

1 tablespoon of baking powder

cup of whipped cream

1 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of shortening like "Crisco."

1 can of cream-style corn, about 14 ounces


Cooking directions:


1} Pour your cream style corn into a blender and blend until smooth, put aside.


2} In a large mixing bowl beat the butter and egg yolks until smooth with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add your pureed cream styled corn and blend well then add the whipping cream, stirring well.  Your mixture will be lumpy.


3} combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar to your large bowl and stir well until all ingredients have been blended.


4} Heat your 9 to 10 inch cast iron skillet in an oven set at 375 degrees with your tablespoon of shortening for about 5 minutes.


5} beat your egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form.  Add to corn meal batter and fold into the mixture.


6} remove the cast Iron skillet from the oven.  Pour in the batter into the hot skillet and even mixture.


7} bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and a tooth pick inserted into the cornbread comes out clean.


The secret ingredient to this recipe is the can of cream-style corn as most other recipe call for buttermilk.  Serve right out of the oven or while it is still warm for the best taste. 


Great with pulled Pork, Chili, Beef stew, and barbecue ribs from the grill.  Enjoy! 




Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.


Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!        Supplies are now limited!


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