Monday, May 10, 2010

My Top 10 Favorite Flowers

We're so happy to have Lindy giving us a few tips on selecting and growing lovely flowers. I was lucky enough to witness her beautiful yard on Maple Lane in the flesh, so when Lindy talks about flowers, I listen!

I don't consider myself an expert gardener, but I did train at the feet of my mother who is a master. Most of the pictures below come from my home on Maple Lane in Provo, Utah, which I moved from about a year ago.

Lots of my neighbors would ask me, "Lindy, how do you get so much color in your yard?"

Occasionally, if I was feeling chatty, I'd give them the long answer which involves good soil, regular watering, and plenty of sunlight. But usually, I just gave them the short answer, which is: "Plant annuals and Miracle-Gro them religiously. Trust me."

And, it's true. That's really all it takes for your yard to stop traffic (foot or otherwise). Here are my top 10 favorite easy to grow flowers. These plants are all low maintenance and provide tons of eye-popping, sidewalk-stopping color throughout the growing season.

1. Petunias, Wave and Cascading
I know the humble petunia is often thought of as old-fashioned and overdone, but they're popular for a reason; they're tough and stand up well to the dead-heat of summer. The key with petunias is to avoid the purple-red-white plantings exactly one foot a part amidst a vast expanse of soil. All plants look better and more natural when they are planted close together in clumps of three or five. As you can see below, I planted pink and magenta wave petunias all along the sidewalk leading up to my front door. Here they are in May. Small, but still colorful.

By October, they've become monsters. Yep, these guys bloom for a good six months+ in Utah (and in Georgia, too).

2. Geraniums
My grandma always planted red geraniums in pots. Red is a classic, but I love a mix of pink hues, too, as seen here in my window boxes.

Geraniums also look great paired with cascading petunias.

3. Pansies
I've planted "winter" pansies in both Utah and Georgia with great results. Put your pansies in the ground in the fall before first frost. As soon as the ground warms up in spring your pansies will start popping up and you'll be so very happy to see them.

4. Zinnias, Giant and Profusion
I'm such a sucker for giant plants. These Belara Giants are amazing; they grow up to 4 feet tall--literally inches overnight.

Profusion Zinnias are another staple in my yard. As their name suggests, they bloom profusely and can fill in a large expanse quickly. I love combining orange, white, and pink varieties with purple salvia.

5. Daisies
You're probably already very familiar with the adorable daisy. The white petals surrounding a sunny yellow center make for such a happy combination. They also make great cut flowers, and if you get the right variety, they will "naturalize" (spread on their own). Oh, and did I mention these little darlings are perennials? That means you'll have many happy returns on your initial investment.
6. Coneflowers
Purple and white coneflowers (also called echinacea) are fabulous for areas that get hot, all-day sun.

7. Rocket Snapdragons
I pass this quaint little house (actually I think it might qualify as a mansion) every day. The white picket fence is a perfect backdrop (and lattice) for these rocket snaps which grow up to 3-4 feet tall.

8. Black-Eyed Susans
My son use to call these "bumblebee flowers." They spread like crazy and some even consider them invasive. But they are always welcome in any yard of mine.

9. Sunflowers
Is that Jack and the beanstalk? Nope. It's Lindy and her giant sunflower. I planted a few seeds in May and look at what I had by July. Magical, I tell you.

10. Dahlias
These lovely ladies come in every size and color you can imagine. I love the plate-size varieties because they are just so dramatic. The best thing about dahlias? The more you cut the flowers off, the more they bloom. That's why I have a whole bucketful here waiting to be brought inside and put into vases.

Happy Gardening, everyone!

Gorgeous! Thanks, Lindy.


Steph said...

Lindy, I love this! I've been feeling the need for more color in my yard this year. I've always been turned off by pansies and petunias, but you've made a believer out of me. As soon as the weather clears, I'm going out to buy myself some flowers!

Kay said...

Ahhhh, I am crazy about flowers too! And totally agree with her quick answer of plant fertilizer once a week and plenty of water. It's the key to those big, bushy, beautiful baskets you see in the plant nursery. And with the petunias, use plenty of snail bait once a week, or they flowers will get eaten by bugs.

I plant hundreds of annuals every spring and fall! If I know there will be a wedding during the next season, I will plant the flowers in the baskets and the beds in the bride's colors. Then there is no need for big expensive floral arrangements around the yard.

Anyway, just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. Lindy, your yard looks beautiful.

Danielle said...

Beautiful and helpful! Some of my neighbors have rocket snapdragons, but I didn't know what they were. Thanks!

Jordan said...

This was wonderful. Loved your selection, Lindy.

jrae said...

So fun to see your gorgeous yard(s) on Bloom. Thanks for sharing your flower knowledge.

Melissa said...

What a gorgeous yard! Wow!

Anonymous said...

Lindy--I aspire to be you! About how much time would you estimate you spend in your garden each week? I'm pretty good in the vegetable garden, but have somewhat neglected my flower beds. I'd love some advice on what to plant in front of my east facing house (I'm in Ogden, UT)where the front steps shade the northern side of the beds before noon every day. I'd love it to be somewhat symmetrical, but can't seem to get much color to last on that side. Tips?

LJ said...

Amanda, if you can grow vegetables, you can definitely grow flowers (they're much more forgiving). Once all my flowers are in the ground, I probably only spend about an hour a week weeding and watering.
How many hours of direct sun does your front yard get? If it's close to five or six, you'll have luck with any of the flowers I mentioned in my post. If it's a bit shadier, you'd probably want to stick with pansies or daisies. If it's quite shady then you'll have to go with Hostas or Coleus.
Does that help?

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lindy! I think the reason I have a difficult time with that northeast bed is that it gets very weak morning sunlight for only about 5 or 6 hours, and if I plant the same things on both sides of the steps, the growth is very lopsided (even with pansies)! I have hostas, bleeding hearts, ferns, and some others there and am intrigued by the coleus--I saw one that had been cultivated into a little topiary-type tree! I'll have to experiment a little to see if I can get some color over there...
Thanks for the tips!

Ayesha said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful and inspiring garden! Can't wait to spruce up my own now .. !!

zafran said...

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