Tagged hostas

Top 10 Perennials for Summer Gardens – My Pick

Blue Delphiniums
Blue Delphiniums

As much as I love the ability to walk barefoot through the back lawn to my raised bed gardens and pick fresh, pesticide-free peppers, tomatoes, herbs and whatever else I’ve decided to plant in any given year, I love perennial flowers even more.

What is it about perennials that enthralls me the most? Certainly the longevity of the plants is at the top of the list. I have irises and peonies that have been passed down through several generations on both sides of the family. Deep red peony blossoms that are fragrant beyond belief – unlike many of the hybrid flowers on the market these days (which brings me to the second reason – the heavenly smell). Memories of strolling barefoot through my grandmother’s flower gardens, carefully tiptoeing along the limestone paved paths as summer breezes carried the sweet scent of garden phlox through the air.

Here are my top 10 favorite perennials and the reasons why I like them:

Irises – One of the hardiest plants you can find that require very little care other than keeping them free of borers. They come in hundreds of colors and you can even create your own with a little practice.

Peonies – another very hardy plant that is available in a multitude of colors. The size and smell of the blossoms are heavenly. A fresh bouquet will brighten any room. Very romantic too.

Blanket Flower – these are low maintenance, bright and cheerful and do well with little water. They make a great mid-summer colorful addition to the garden.

Bee Balm (Monarda didyma) – bright and compact, this winner will attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden. It spreads easily but is not invasive.

Black-eyed Susan – similar to the blanket flower, this compact daisy-like flower adds sunny color the mid-summer to fall garden. It can easily be reseeded and is hardy and low maintenance.

Coneflower – This is a daisy-like flower also, but is taller. It adds height to the garden and is great for attracting bees and butterflies as well. The roots are used in the natural cold remedy echinacea.

Hostas – Talk about hardy! Hostas will grow in the shadiest area you can find. The number of options and selection of colors and varigated leaf choices is almost unlimited.

Delphinium – these are not so easy to grow but when placed in the proper location they produce the most romantically beautiful spiked blossoms. The colors of blue and purple simply can’t be beat.

Creeping Phlox – This is a low creeping ground cover that flowers in mid-spring. I love the way it drapes over a rock edging. It’s works wonderful as a rock garden border.

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)– A mid-summer bloomer that will attract many friendly garden visitors too. Traditionally a tall spikey plant, it can also be found in 18-20″ heights with white, purple, or pink blossoms.

Finally – the thing that I love most about perennials is how easily they can be shared with friends and family. Plant exchanges are a popular way to increase the variety of plants in your garden. Perennials need to be thinned out every few years, so it’s a great opportunity for you to offer to share your garden favorites with others. Younger family members are sure to love a shoot from Grandma’s favorite peony bush or Aunt Mary’s purple irises. If only these treasured heirlooms could talk – think of the family history (and secrets) they could share!

Trip to Tangletown Gardens

Farm Fresh Produce Delivered Daily
Farm Fresh Produce & Eggs Available Daily

In the middle of the Tangletown neighborhood in south Minneapolis, you’ll find a garden oasis that tempts all of the senses.  Tangletown Gardens offers lush greenery of all types including succulents, perennials, annuals, heirloom, and water plants.  I strolled through the expansive outside area and found a massive display of lush, healthy hostas in both miniature and giant sizes.

Hostas Are Lush and Healthy
Large Variety of Hostas Are Lush and Healthy

You’ll find garden accessories including furniture, garden art, pots, wind chimes and pretty much anything you need to decorate your gardens.

Succulents and Patio Chairs
Statues, Succulents and Chairs

All of the plants were healthy and lush, even in the 90 degree temps.  The hydrangea below almost convinced me to take it home with me.

Endless Summer Hydrangea
Endless Summer Hydrangea

The water gardens in the back add to the sense that you’ve found a hidden garden oasis in the middle of the busy city.

Soothing Waterfall in the Water Garden
Soothing Waterfall in the Water Garden

Water lilies, water hyacinth, and water lettuce are just a few of the plants available for water gardens.  The water lilies were in bloom with beautiful yellow flowers.

Yes, my walk through the pathways was very refreshing, even in the hot summer afternoon heat.  The shop has plenty to see too.  I purchased several packets of flower seeds including Butterfly Bush, Delphinium, and Lobelia which I planted in the whisky barrel, after harvesting this year’s crop of red potatoes.

One of the coolest things about Tangletown Gardens is the fact that they sell organic produce that is grown on their farm in Plato, MN.  They have a program  called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) where you can purchase shares of seasonal produce throughout the summer months.  Shares are delivered from the farm to the Tangletown shop for customers to pickup weekly.

They also sell organic produce directly to consumers who don’t participate in the CSA program.

Farm Fresh Produce Available for Purchase
Farm Fresh Produce Available for Purchase

All of the produce is grown using sustainable farming methods, meaning no artificial herbicides or pesticides are applied.  Only natural methods for controlling pests and weeds, and natural fertilizers are used. I purchased some zuchini and summer squash, since I don’t have either growing in my garden this year.  I sliced it diagonally, drizzled it with olive oil, sprinkled it with freshly chopped basil and Old Bay seasoning and grilled it along with shrimp on skewers. It was mouth-wateringly delicious.

This was my first visit to Tangletown Gardens, but it definitely won’t be my last. It’s nice to know that the shop is open year round and has a wonderful supply of seasonal decorations during the holidays too.

Rain + Mulch + Hostas = Slug Damage

Hostas damaged by slugs.
Hostas damaged by slugs.

Wood bark, shredded leaves, and other organic mulch are a staple in organic landscapes and gardens. Unfortunately, it is also a haven for slugs to hide out until the cover of darkness arrives when they come out in full force to destroy foliage.  Hostas are especially prone to damage by slugs, but they can do a lot of damage in a short time in vegetable gardens too.

Beer traps are somewhat effective but require that you keep the traps filled and it’s a shame to waste a good beer on slimy creatures!

There are a number of safe, effective options for ridding your garden of slugs and other garden pests.  An organic product, Monterey Sluggo Plus Insect, Slug & Snail Pellets For Organic Gardening contains iron phosphate and Spinosad, which is a naturally occurring insecticide made from soil microbes, are both very effective ingredients for safely protecting your gardens from damage caused by earwigs, cutworms, sowbugs, pillbugs, slugs, and snails.

Sluggo Plus granules are sprinkled on the ground and are effective for up to 4 weeks, but may need to reapplied after heavy rains. It’s safe for birds, pets, and other wildlife. For more information on Monterey Sluggo Plus Insect, Slug & Snail Pellets For Organic Gardening, Click Here.

Rain & Hail Damages Garden & Floods Streets

More than 2" of rain in Saint Louis Park last evening.
Evening rain measures just over 2" in the Green Bay Packer's rain gauge.

We’ve had our share of rain this month and received over 2 inches again last evening.  High winds and hail the size of golf balls shredded leaves on the trees and in the garden.

Hosta leaves were shredded by golf-ball size hail.
Hosta leaves were shredded by golf-ball size hail.
Brussel sprouts were hit by hail too.
Brussel sprouts were hit by hail too.
Upside down tomato plant didn't suffer any hail damage.
Upside down tomato plant didn't suffer any hail damage and is thriving with all the rain and heat.

Thankfully, most of the rest of the vegetables, shrubs,  and flowers were not damaged by the storm.

Mushrooms are flourishing with the wet weather we've had in June.
Mushrooms are flourishing with the wet weather we've had in June.
A variety of mushrooms are popping up all over the lawn.
A variety of mushrooms are popping up all over the lawn.

The rain flooded freeways and side streets.  One creative snowmobiler used the opportunity to get his sled out and ride up and down a street that had turned into a stream.  Check out the video here: man rides snowmobile on flooded streets.