Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

Nasty flowers

'Vanilla Berry' illuminated by the setting sun

This is one flower on the first variety of nasturtiums (“nasties”) to bloom in my balcony garden. Although they are from the seed packet labeled ‘Vanilla Berry’, they look more like “banana peel” to me. The nasturtiums are next to a pot of Heuchera ‘Obsidian’. The colour combination is quite striking.


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An intensive used to express satisfaction, acceptance, pleasure, excellence, exaltation, approval, awe, or reverence. When used individually, the level of satisfaction expressed is most often directly proportionate to the duration of the vowel sound. Source: The Urban Dictionary

The cutting gardenThe cutting garden
This post’s original title was The Hanging, Cutting Garden but even though accurate, it sounded morbid, even creepy to me (and perhaps you, too) so I quickly deleted it in the second draft.

And yes, describing sweet peas as “sweet” is redundant, but I’m going to use the term because…
Sweet peas not yet awake

… it’s sweet (ie., satisfying, pleasant, excellent, I feel exultant!) to:
1) finally report on a successful gardening experiment,
2) look at the view outside my patio doors,
3) cut a few fresh blossoms every couple of days — even though I have to climb on a ladder to do this, and
4) sniff their delicate scent — and I mean deeply inhale.

Good morning, Sweet Peas

A pair of ‘Explorer’ Sweet Pea flowers

Some gardening notes to self for next growing season:

1) Try other varieties. Renee’s Garden Seeds has an excellent selection of sweet pea varieties including container varieties.

2) Grow ‘Explorer’ in pots at deck level and the trailing varieties in the hanging baskets.

3) Follow Renee’s tips for success:
Sowing seeds directly into the garden

Starting seeds indoors and transplanting

Secrets to Sweet Pea Success

4) Grow more sweet peas and fewer nasturtiums. To make room for the sweet peas, I had to give my Mom 75% of the nasturtium seedlings I started.

5) I’m amending #4 to “Grow more sweet peas AND nasturtiums and share the surplus.”

6) Immerse myself in the literature on Lathyrus odoratus, especially The Sweet Pea Book by Graham Rice. The Google Books preview includes excerpts on dwarf sweet peas (page 27) and growing sweet peas in containers (page 31). Based on the preview and rave reviews, I added this “beautifully illustrated and poetically written” book to my wish list.

Happy Green Thumb Sunday, everyone. What adjectives and other flowery words do you use to describe your favourite garden plants? I’d love to know.

Join Green Thumb Sunday

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

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First sweet peas

Sweet Peas 'Explorer Mixed'

Sigh, sigh and sniff. Three of my audible, if not quite verbal, responses today. The first sigh, this morning, was one of dismay: another unseasonably chilly, gray June day. The second sigh, this afternoon, was one of contentment: the sweet peas on my balcony are starting to bloom. And the sniff — well that’s me this evening, inhaling the delicate scent of the blossoms in a vase on my computer desk.

Here are sweet peas, on tiptoe for a flight:
With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
And taper fingers catching at all things,
To bind them all about with tiny rings

from I stood tip-toe upon a little hill by John Keats (1795–1821)

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My security system

Parapet of Violas
Any would-be intruder trying to gain access to my apartment by scaling the walls or climbing a ladder will be thwarted and likely injured by trying to vault over the violas (owwwwww, pulled muscle), avoid the hanging baskets (ouch, head injury), and clear the rows of pots completely covering the front three-quarters of my deck (ow-ow-ow-ow, twisted ankles and bruises to the knees and butt). Plus a fierce Westie guards the balcony door.

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Lewisia cotyledon forma alba_1396

I probably shouldn’t feature this plant on a blog called The Edible Balcony Garden because (#1) it’s inedible and (#2) it’s not even in my garden. This Lewisia cotyledon forma alba is happily soaking up the sun and heat in my Mom’s south-facing rock garden. But I’d like to write about this “happy camper” anyway because it’s exactly that: the right plant in the right place. This is an important concept that’s taken me many growing seasons to accept because…

…My favourite ornamental plants are full or partial shade dwellers. And no matter how often I water or try to shelter them from mid-morning to late-afternoon sun, they do not thrive on my south-facing balcony with its heat absorbing deck. I learned this costly, disappointing lesson a few years ago when I tried to grow native woodland plants. The experiment, not surprisingly, failed — unless you considering adding more plants to the compost a goal. Put the wrong plant in the wrong place and you will use far too many inputs to keep it barely alive, effort contrary to a low-impact garden.

So last year, I finally gave in to my habitat, even if it’s not my first choice. The new attitude I’m trying to cultivate is the gardener’s equivalent of “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

This season I’d like to add sun-seeking, drought-tolerant succulents to the hayrack planters and hanging baskets at the front of my balcony. But now I have doubts about including Lewisia. In doing research for this post, I learned about its growth requirements and I’m not sure I can create rock garden-like conditions. According to one reference, “brought down from their subalpine heights to sea level gardens, they easily fall prey to root-rot.” That doesn’t sound good! I really don’t want to stress another plant or myself — or our precious planet’s resources — by trying too hard to make something work.

For now I can be quite happy enjoying alpine plants by visiting this botanical garden more often. And I will continue to take photos and make plans for my future rock and shade gardens.

But if you are seeking a showy specimen to fill a bare spot in your rock garden, you may want to consider this pure white-flowering Lewisia with its abundant blossoms.

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The fairest tulips of them all

Yesterday morning — a weekday off work plus three more blissful things, all before breakfast:

1) Sunshine
2) An easy drive from city to country (ie, light traffic, no roadwork, no construction zones — this is rare)
3) A greeting from exuberant ‘Angelique’ when I pulled into Mom’s driveway:

Mom's favourite tulip_1324

No surprise that my favourite tulips are the same colour as cherry blossoms. You can see a close-up of another Angelique’s beautiful face here.

So if you were limited to just one tulip in your garden, which one would you grow and why?

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“Think of me”

Blooming on my balcony and illuminated by the sun this afternoon:
Yellow viola
In the language of flowers, a yellow pansy = “think of me” (source: A Handful of Flowers)

Addendum (April 21st): Yes, a yellow pansy (Viola x wittrockiana) does mean “think of me” but this flower is a yellow violet (Viola), which means “rural happiness.” My goof. I did a bit more research based on Tess’s comment. Thanks, Tess!

A bit of a beautiful distraction because I’m supposed to be sowing the rest of my seeds this afternoon. I’m both late and on time with this task — late according to the West Coast gardener’s calendar for indoor seed starting but on time with my own journals from past years. I spent a little too much time in the urban garden this month and not enough my own. Blame it on hanami and sakura intoxication.

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