A Testimonial of the Joys of Flower Gardening

We recently received a wonderful email from one of our customers and I thought you’d enjoy hearing her story about growing flowers from seed; how she’s using them at their resort; and how the experience impacts her daily life.

Dear Harris Seeds,

All the photos on our website are of the flowers I raise from seed from you at Harris Seeds. The only plants not from you are the spikes in the center of some of my flower barrels. All other flowers are from your catalog. I love the flowers I get from the little seeds. It is a great pastime to plan and watch them grow. I do all of the landscaping at my resort and use only your seeds. I enjoy working with flowers and I have already started planting for this upcoming year. I plant about 2,200 annual flowers for my resort for our guests to enjoy while they are here. I use all the flowers here, as it saves me money to raise them and is a great stress reliever for me. Nothing is more precious to me than to see such beauty that I have created from working with a little seed. The real joy is seeing the smiles from all our guests and the many comments on the beautiful flowers at our resort.

Glaciers' Mountain Resort, LLC, West Glacier, Montana

For more pictures, click here to go to their resort website.


Kudos to Container Gardening

We’ve begun prepping for our summer trials by bringing in seed samples of 2013 season new introductions. Yes, that’s right! I’m already in 2013 mode, and we’ve barely begun 2012! I noticed that a number of the varieties are either cascading or trailing in habit, which means more baskets and containers for trials, and maybe a little less in the gardens. This trends towards containers seems to increase each year.

Personally, I don’t mind the shift towards container gardening because it definitely fits my lifestyle better. With a backyard full of garden beds, I am constantly challenged by weeds. Even when I could keep up with the weeds (not so much anymore), it was a constant activity because weed seeds would blow in from my neighbors yards. Solution? Move some of my flowers into containers. So about 5 years ago, I began to concentrate on creating more hanging baskets and containers that could be placed either on my back deck or in strategic areas of the yard. It turns out I have a better knack for growing flowers in containers than in garden beds. It’s also allowed me to be a bit more creative with different types of containers, so now when I’m at my local garden center, I inevitably swing by the pots and containers section each time to see if there is anything that I just ‘have to have’!

Like just about everything else, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to container gardening:

The good!
  • Fewer weeds – it’s truly what inspired me to move to containers.
  • Mobility – you can move them around whenever you feel the urge for something different!
  • Great decorations for patios and decks, but also can be used in gardens and yards as accents.
  • Potting soil can go into your compost at the end of the season. I find it really helps my underutilized compost pile, and ultimately ends up amending my garden beds!
The bad!
  • Requires more diligence in watering and fertilizing.
  • Probably a little more expensive because of soil potting mix and those inevitable new containers that you must have!
  • You’ve gotta wash the containers at the end of each season to get ready for next year. Ugh.
The ugly!
  • I tend to do a little more heave-hoing because of moving the baskets and pots all around. Oh well, it’s worth it.
  • Container storage in the winter – my garage gets fuller each year as I accumulate more containers. It’s not a pretty sight right now!

For every positive aspect of container gardening, I bet any dedicated home gardener will fire back an equally solid rationale for garden beds. I’m not advocating one over the other, especially since I still have gardens. But I honestly like the balance between both types of gardening – they seem to complement each other. And for some reason, container gardening seems to work better into my daily routine, yet gives me the same joy of blending color and texture using nature’s flora.


Correction about Vinca Jams ‘N Jellies Blackberry

In my last post about the new AAS winner Vinca Jams N Jellies Blackberry, I’d stated that it is a F1 hybrid. Well, I’ve just learned that I was mistaken, JNJ Blackberry is an open pollinated variety. So I wanted to set the record straight to my readers. How will this variety perform under cooler growing environments? We trialed this variety for two years here in Rochester and it performed quite well throughout the summer up to the end of September when we removed the plants from our garden beds. So I have no doubt that it’ll thrive throughout the gardening season. The bottom line is I’m still sold on this garden vinca because of its novel color and performance.


A Black Vinca – No Way!

All-America Selections just announced a new AAS winner last week at its Annual Open Meeting in Tampa, Florida. Vinca Jams N Jellies Blackberry is a very cool, novel garden Vinca that will attract both garden groupies and novices alike. Alright, it’s not black, but it’s such a dark purple it’s pretty darn close! The unique velvety deep purple flower color drew a number of positive comments from both judges and visitors to the various AAS trials across the country. As an AAS flower judge myself, I’m always drawn to high performing and unique varieties, so I was very happy to see it win an award.

It was a little difficult to see its true potential when we looked at it in the field trials because the dark flowers blended so closely with the soil. To create the most impact I recommend growing it with other annuals that have nice contrasting flower colors. Try pairing it with white vinca, or perhaps other heat loving varieties that are bright pink or lavender.

Plant height is 14-16” and figure on 10-12” garden spacing. Blooms are about 2” wide with overlapping petals. Most Vinca thrive in hot sunny areas, but because JNJ Blackberry is a F1 hybrid its tolerance towards a cooler growing environment is greater than open pollinated varieties. That’s a real plus for those of us who live in the north.

If you like fun and funky flowers, definitely give this new variety a whirl and let me know what you think. We’ve just put it up on our website so seed is available for sale!

Image courtesy of All-America Selections