27 February 2017

Pansies, milkweed & daffs, oh my!

Yes, it's been a while since I've posted. All is well...just very, very busy. There isn't a lot of time these days to post free stuff, or even to donate a column to LocalXpress, so we have to make do when we can. I trust everyone is getting through the winter without too much distress. We've just had a very welcome few days of unseasonably warm weather, which melted a great deal of the heaps of snow we got the week before. And as always, every day marches us closer to spring. 

Every year, the National Garden Bureau in the US announces the perennial, annual, bulb and edible of the year; and the Perennial Plant Association also chooses a Perennial of the Year. The NBG's annual of the year this year is the lovely pansy, in its large-flowered form. But in my garden, all types of violas, from the sweetly scented to the pansies to the petite and boisterous Johnny Jump Ups, are more than welcome.

While I always purchase a few named cultivars of pansies, Johnnys and violas every spring, I also have volunteers pop up around the yard, and I encourage those as well. There were even flowers in December last year! 

The PPA's perennial of the year is an excellent choice this year; Asclepias tuberosa, aka butterfly weed, which is a superb plant not only for Monarch butterflies but for many other butterflies, bees and numerous other pollinators. Best suited for a sunny, well-drained spot, this native North American plant is drought tolerant once established, long blooming, and gorgeous, and generally left alone by deer and other pests. What's not to love?

The bulb of the year is the glorious daffodil, which I have adored since I was an elementary student and introduced to Wordsworth's poem of the same name. Deer resistant, tough, and gorgeous, daffs and narcissus come in a wide range of varieties, featuring bicolours, doubles, singles, some with large trumpets, others with more subdued centres. They all tend to be fragrant, long-lived cut flowers, and look spectacular planted in drifts. 

 One useful tidbit you may not know--daffs should never be put in cut flower arrangements with other types of flowers, as sap from the daffodils will kill other flowers. So do a big massed vase of daffs and narcissus, and put other types of spring flowers in other vases to enjoy.

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