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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

False Flowers, Contradictions in Advice, and Radishes

Not all is always as it seems in the garden. There are false flowers that are real flowers, but called false because they look like something they aren't.

These are False Forget-me-Nots, Brunnera macrophylla, blooming today in my garden. This is one of those plants that started to bloom in late March but then the flowers disappeared when it got cold. Now they are back, all blue and tiny and pretty.

I don't believe that I've ever known anyone who grew real Forget-Me-Nots (Myosotis sp.) around here so I did a Google search to find out more about them. That took me to the USDA Plants database website, and now I have more questions. If you look at this map of where Myositis arvensis (Field Forget-me-not) grows, you will find it grows in all the states surrounding Indiana, but not Indiana. It is as though we've closed our borders to this flower. Hmmm... I'll have to do some more research.

How about someone doing some more research on false flowers in general and planting a whole garden of false flowers? You could plant False Dragonhead (Phyostegia virginiana), False Indigo (Baptisia sp.), and False Sunflowers (Heliopsis sp.) for starters, oh, and False Forget-me-nots. I'm sure there are other false flowers that we could come up with. Who will plant a false flower garden for all of us to see?

By the way, I got a few comments yesterday that perhaps I was offering advice that taken at face value, might be hard to follow. So I wanted to explain how you can avoid buying tender annuals plants too soon when we could still have a frost and yet not wait to buy plants when you find what you want. I'm about to reveal a secret method on how to do this, one that takes a bit of willpower and a small measure of confidence in the methods of growers and retailers. Get a piece of paper and a pencil to write this down, or fire up your printer...

Here's the method...

Don't go to the garden centers until right around your average frost free date for your area.

That's right. I have not yet been to a garden center, so I have not been tempted to buy annuals yet, because I think it is too early here. Yes, I have walked through a big box seasonal department, but I kept my eyes straight ahead and did not look at the annuals.

I'll go the week of May 7th, which is around our usual frost-free date of May 10th. The garden centers will have plenty for me to buy, even then, because they are getting new plants in all the time in the spring. The growers don't sow thousands of annuals on one day and then ship them all out on one day, and that's that. They spread out their sowing over many weeks in the late winter so that for many weeks in the spring they have fresh plants to ship out. And local growers who sell on site are doing the same thing. Every day, they are bringing plants up to the front from their greenhouses in the back, as the plants reach the perfect size for selling.

I've always found what I wanted with this method and have never felt like I was picking through what the early birds left behind. Sometimes I've even run into the early bird buyers, re-buying their annuals after a late frost.

And to ensure you are getting fresh plants, you might just make friends with the staff at your favorite garden center to find out when they will be getting new shipments of plants so you can time your visit accordingly. If they are growing plants right on the premises, and you don't see what you want, ask if they have them in their greenhouses. Sometimes they do, and are just waiting a few more days to bring them out. They should be more than happy to check because their business is selling plants, and they wouldn't want to see you leave and go to the competition, if they have want you want back in their greenhouses. If they won't check, leave and go to the competition.

Which brings me to radishes (and lettuce and peas and spinach and onions). So far, I'm winning the competition with the rabbits to be the first to eat from the garden. This evening I harvested a few radishes and green onions.

I cleaned them up and ate them. They were quite tasty. Better than store bought!

This weekend I'll be harvesting the first of the lettuce. I can hardly wait.

16 comments:

Annie in Austin said...

From the time I first saw them and grew them, the plant names were given to me as Brunnera, Physostegia and Baptisia, so to me they were never false anything else. I loved Brunnera and kept dividing it very early each spring until I had a dozen plants set around the borders.

Nice radishes, Carol!

Annie

LostRoses said...

Don't go to the garden center until you can safely plant your purchases? You have an iron constitution, woman!

Leslie said...

Sometimes I just need a little nursery fix...especially when I can't get into the garden due to uncooperative weather. I have gotten very good at not reading ads or going to stores and buying random things I think I need...but sometimes I need to stand in the middle of the nursery and dream. It's either that or a therapist. Of course...this year to the contrary...we don't often lose plants to freezes.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Don't go to the garden center until you can safely buy your annuals. Ermm, I go to the garden center every month of the year. ;-)

Here is's safe to put your annuals out after the 19th of May.

Nice radishes and keep those pesky wabbits at bay!

Carol said...

Annie...What about the Heliopsis? I'm still looking for a volunteer to grow a garden of all "false" flowers!
Lost Roses... Not sure if it is an iron constitution as much as no time to buy twice. By the way, since I'm more experienced at gardening, sometimes I do go just to look.
Leslie... Sounds like you don't need my advice because you have willpower, too. Good for you!
Yolanda Elizabet... I can't believe with the warm April you have that your frost free date is generally so late. Are you holding out until then, or planting now?
Thanks all for the comments!

Kathy said...

Carol,
Admit it, if the last few weeks had not been so hetic, you would have been in a garden center by now. If you plan it and tell me where to put it, I might be persuaded to plant a "false" garden.
Kathy, the older sister

Kathy said...

Our lettuce has been started and is growing indoors, but nothing edible is in the ground yet. Are you sure you're in Zone 5?

Colleen said...

I can't wait until I start harvesting! My radishes, snap peas, and a couple of lettuces are up, but I'm nowhere near harvest-time. And, it looks like finally the bunnies of Harper Woods have discovered my yard....I planted a parsley plant in each corner of the veggie garden last week, and as of yesterday, two of them have been nibbled down to bare stems. Will I have to fence everything off? I thought that after four summers of having nothing eaten by our neighborhood bunnies that our bunnies just must be either incredibly stupid or stuffing themselves at some other gardener's expense. Looks like the tables have turned...

Robin said...

Maybe one of these days I won't be in such a hurry for spring and I'll be able to wait patiently. I hear my mom talk about how her southern plants are doing and I have to have a taste of early spring here too.

sister with the homestead said...

The brunera is my most favorite plant. I love the little blue flowers.

Those fresh, organic vegetables sure look tasty.....too bad I haven't had time to start planting my garden yet. :-(

Pam said...

I just love the first garden harvest! I wish I could grow all of my food - I did better when I lived in Michigan (I miss those winter squashes) - but now I get huge heads of romaine and brocolli, sugarsnap peas, etc - and all of it generally before May even knocks on the door. Then I'll have to come and look at your garden!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Oooh.. you're already eating out of the garden! I should sow some radish and beet seeds soon, too. :)

Carol said...

Kathy the older sister...I''d admit no such thing, but might help you figure out a false garden.
Kathy...Yep, I'm sure I'm in zone 5. I planted the radishes on March 17th.
Colleen... Good luck with those rabbits. I fight them every year.
Robin... Your from the south, so your internal clock probably is set to plant early!
Sister with the Homestead... Maybe I'll share some radishes with you.
Pam...So no vegetables to harvest after May in South Carolina?
Blackswamp_Girl...It's definitely time to sow radishes and beets. I lost my beets to the cold so need to decide if I'll re-sow some.

Thanks all for the comments!

EAL said...

Myosotis are quite common here in Buffalo, though I'm not much of a one for early spring flowering perennials. Except hellebores.

Sissy said...

oooo!!
You are so lucky to have those veggies!!!
I only just planted my lettuce..
I would love to see your veggie garden!! (again!)

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Carol, you make that sound like it might require a real decision... blasphemy! Beets are SO good... and just think, you can eat the greens sauted in garlic and olive oil, roast the baby beets in the toaster oven with some sea salt and cracked black pepper...

(Is it working?!!)