Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

Easy Propagating Perennials: Sedum Plants

Large swaths of flowering plants best for design and for use by pollinators.

Large swaths of flowering plants best for design and for use by pollinators.

Want to increase your stock of perennial plants? It’s worth your while to make new plants, to share or to make a bigger splash in the garden. Plus, it’s easy and fun.

Propagation varies in terms of easiness, but sedums, like ‘Autumn Joy’ or its other variants are a good place to start as they are one of the easiest. Sedums are one of my favourite perennials for many reasons. Pollinators go crazy for their flower nectar, and as they are succulent, they are super low maintenance. They are also one of the hardiest perennials, and one of the few that will over-winter in a container.

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Filling in the Cracks with Hardy Sedums

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Sedums can fill unusual spaces in the garden, like this V-shaped gap in the garden.

Perennial Sedums, the winter hardy version of succulents, are tough. Remember, if you like succulents, there are two kinds, the tender ones that can’t survive freezing temperatures—like echeveria, jade plants, burro’s tail—and these, commonly called Hens and Chicks or stonecrop, which are perfectly able to withstand Canadian winters. There is always a space where you can fit a few in your garden. And there are so many named varieties of hardy sedum to choose from. Colours range from green, blue-green, and pink all the way to deep purple. One of my favourite new varieties that does well in dry shade is bright yellow-green ‘Angelina’, which turns orange in the fall.

angelina_sedum_fall_color_lr

‘Angelina’ sedum turning orange in September.

 

The sustainable approach to gardening is to make sure you have growing plants covering soil, rather than on relying on mulch. Avoid bare soil at any cost. Instead, use low ground covers for any garden bare spots. Sedums work especially well in garden crevices, as seen in the picture above. They are true ground huggers and help to stop erosion on slopes. This sedum patch above, is growing on a slope, where even mulch would be regularly washed away.

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Heucheras Aplenty

Heuchera 'Caramel'

Heuchera ‘Caramel’

Heucheras have taken off with a bang of late, due to clever plant breeders. In the old days heuchera, (Coral Bells) were “dependable yet boring workhouse plants” with green leaves and red flowers that were thought ‘insignificant’. That’s all changed with the explosion of new varieties. It’s almost impossible to keep track of them all, as they now rival the numbers we see in hostas and daylilies: a collectors dream.

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Unusual Petunias To Grow

A petunia that caught my eye this summer was this deep red-violet with a subtle stripe through its rays.

A petunia that caught my eye this summer was this deep red-violet with a subtle stripe through its rays.

Petunias used to be available in only a few colours, the ubiquitous red, white, hot pink and all kinds of blues and purples. Now we have way more choice in this very useful annual flower. Before I go any further, let me say that I am no flower snob and love all kinds of everyday annuals, including petunias. Some may sneer at common annual flowers, just because they have tended to be overused, but not me. A flower is a flower, and petunias are lovely in the right place. For one thing, the scent of many varieties (whites and purples, and most of the supertunias) makes them worth it alone. My soft spot for petunias began when I was a beginning gardener. I bought all kinds of plants to grow in a shady garden, and the petunias were the only ones that lived. For this novice, those sturdy petunias made me a fan for life.

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It’s A Good Year For the (Edible) Orange Daylilies

daylily-hemerocallis-fulva

Daylily, hemerocallis fulva, good enough to eat.

It’s been a gonzo year for the orange daylilies. The hot, sunny weather brought hundreds of blooms to my daylily stand. Species daylilies are one of the easiest perennial plants to grow, are great for cut flowers, but did you know you can also eat them? Don’t try to do this with the the modern hybrids. While there are many gorgeous hybrid daylilies, the species orange ones are said to be the tastiest. The tubers, which are part of their root system (and also help them get through the drought we’ve been having) can be cooked, as well as the early shoots, flower buds and flowers. Some think that daylilies are poisonous, but that is usually due to mixing up the common name, daylily, with actual true lilies, which are not edible.

The species, or common orange daylily’s real Latin name is hemerocallis fulva. Hemerocallis means “beautiful for a day”, or hēmera “day” and  kalos “beautiful.” Fulva means tawny (in colour). While each flower stays open for only a day, they still work well as cut flowers.  As each flower scape has many flower buds, just remove the finished bloom, and the others will flower in turn.

Young daylily shoots, which are the first, tender leaf tips that come up in spring are said to taste like onion-y string beans by foraging expert Steve Brill.  He suggests this cooking method : It’s too late now, but remember this one for next year!

Chop and use the young shoots raw in salads or sandwiches, or steam, sauté or stir-fry them. Add them to soups, stews or casseroles. Virtually any cooking method works with them, and their tasty, string bean/onion flavor always shines through, no matter what other ingredients or spices accompany them. They cook in 10 to 15 minutes. Use shoots under 8 inches tall.

Tubers can be dug without harming the plant. Dig some up, cut off some of the tubers, which look a little like fingerling potatoes, and then cover up the roots again. Here’s a recipe for daylily fritters,  which uses the flower buds in a light batter. It’s best to pick buds which are still green-looking. Here’s a recipe for pan-seared daylily buds. This author/cook calls them poor man’s asparagus.

The only downside to the fulva daylily is its tendency to spread wildly. The newer hybrids stay in easy-to-manage circular clumps. But if you have space for daylilies to roam, and don’t mind if they roam far, go ahead and plant. Otherwise, I’ve seen clumps of daylily planted in enclosed areas like hell strips that stop the daylily from getting out of hand.

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