Ajuga (or Bugleweed) is a common groundcover with exquisite blue flowers.
The rejoicing starts when the first perennials start blooming in the garden. And the fact that so many are blue—one of my favourite garden colors—is an added bonus.
Vinca’s masses of blue flowers are a welcome sight in spring.
One of the first to bloom is vinca, (at left) a dead easy to grow ground cover that grows in shade. Roundabout now it’s completely covered in little blue flowers that bumblebees are happy to see. Be careful, it’s a true ground cover, so don’t plant it where you don’t want it to spread. It does well in the shade, and that’s another plus of vinca.
Another of my favourite spring blue-bloomers is Pulmonaria. It gets its common name lungwort from the circular pattern on its leaves that look a little like a cross section of a lung. The species comes out in flowers that are pink and blue. There’s also a fully blue variety, ‘Blue Ensign’. Bees really love them, and you can’t blame them, it’s their first meal after a long winter sleep. It’s an ideal garden perennial that the bees can feed from early in the season.
Clover in the lawn is one of the best things you can have. This butterfly agrees.
Thinking of patching your lawn with grass seed? Consider adding white clover seed instead, or a mix of clover and grass for a more sustainable lawn.
- Clover has small white flowers in summer that are good nectar providers for pollinators, like butterflies and bees.
- Clover is nitrogen fixing. This means it increases soil fertility by adding nitrogen to the soil, by taking it in from the air. Let the clover feed the lawn instead of chemical fertilizer.
Nitrogen is abundant in the world, but most of the nitrogen in the world is a gas and most plants can’t use nitrogen as a gas. Most plants must rely on the addition of nitrogen to the soil. There are a few plants that love nitrogen gas, though. They are able to draw the nitrogen gas from the air and store it in their roots. These are called nitrogen fixing plants.
Single dahlia tuber planted in grow mix. The eye is the tiny dark spot in the protruding part at the top.
At the Peterborough Garden Show recently I was surprised to see samples of new dahlias growing in pots looking like fingers stuck in the ground. In my dahlia growing experience I’ve always planted an entire cut-off stalk surrounded by several tubers in a mass, usually purchased in a bag with tubers and sawdust. However this was something new I’d never seen. A dahlia specialist at a garden show gives you the opportunity to see a wider variety of species, as many specialists will have myriad varieties. The tubers they provide are individual dry tubers, harvested last spring, cleaned and trimmed so they are stored singly. And they do look a little bit like fat fingers.
The important thing about each dahlia tuber ‘finger’ is that it must have a little piece of original stem attached which contains the growing “eye”. Dahlia tuber eyes are similar to the eye that you see growing on a potato tuber, except they tend to be small and harder to notice. The grower pointed it out to me on the tuber I bought. Very small, but unmistakeable once you see it: a small round swelling on the tuber around the place where it joins the stem. Any other tubers that fall off a purchased dahlia stem without this eye are useless. The tuber provides the food source for the plant, but nothing will happen without an eye, as it is the growing tip.
Dahlia tubers getting started in aluminum trays.
Did you buy dahlias, bleeding heart, lilies, or another type of perennial packed in a plastic bag? I can’t stress this enough: Get it out of that bag as soon as possible! Buying in a bag is the equivalent of a neighbour digging up a perennial plant from her garden and, not having a pot, sticking in a plastic bag for you to lug home. It works fine, but it’s a temporary measure. It’s a cost efficient way for plant sellers to save on soil and pots when they sell you a plant. Saves on transport costs too. However, it’s not a great way to ensure the survival of the plant when you get home. You may think to yourself, “I’ll get around to that later”, then forget about it. There’s nothing sadder than opening a bagged dahlia and seeing the shoots, white and gnarled where they have tried to grow inside the bag. I’ve done this many times, and, weeks later, found half-dead (or fully dead) plants waiting for me in the bag, staring at me accusingly….why???