Friday, June 23, 2017


I have always loved hollyhocks. I have the fondest memory of a hollyhock fragrance from my childhood in Lyons, Illinois. My grandmother grew hollyhocks and it is maddening that I have yet to find a hollyhock that smells like what I remember.

Below are pictures of bright red hollyhocks grown from seeds sent to me by a resort owner in Ontario Canada. We have fished there for years and it dawned on me to ask if I could get some seeds from them. She said, "when they go to seed I will save some for you". She did send me seeds and it took two years from germination to bloom. I hope you enjoy these  Hollyhocks originated from Canada. These Holly's are close to six feet tall, growing in very fertile soil.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ten Simple Steps to Grow a Glorious Flower Garden

  • If you want to create the flower garden of your dreams you need to start with the question what is my vision. 
  • What are my favorite colors. Do I want to grow flowers for myself, others or both.          
  • Do I want to take beautiful pictures of flowers to feed my photography passion.                            
  • Is my aim to create a breathtaking flower garden because I simply love flowers
  • Do I want my children to grow up surrounded by beauty.

     Let's start with a taste of popular flowers:

    Perennial:  Tall Bearded Iris - Batik 


Tall bearded Iris are some of the most popular varieties of Iris. There are thousands of varieties and the rhizomes spread (multiply and get thick) and have to be thinned periodically in order to have a maximum bloom. This is a great flower to share with friends and neighbors and trade. The great thing about Iris is they 'thrive on neglect' in a sense. Very hardy flower.

Annual:  Zinnia 

Zinnias are a hardy Annual that blooms and re-blooms all summer.You can grow giant zinnias , medium zinnias or miniature zinnias (lilliputians)

Some zinnia seed packets are a mixed bag of colors, with yellow, orange, red, purple, pink. They remain attractive in a vase for a long time 

Perennial:   Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum's come in many pastels and are easy to grow. Since they are a perennial they will come back year after year, but it is a good idea to cover them lightly with leaves in the fall (to protect them from a possible severe winter).  Mums are an ideal flower to make cuttings from in early spring, for a fall bloom. I have often used spring Mum cuttings that grew and bloomed in time for my autumn flower boxes.

Chrysanthemums grow well in 12' flower pots with a saucer underneath to hold water. In this way the soil stays moist on a fairly consistent basis. Without the saucer the soil will dry out to often and the bloom will be affected. The Mum plant grows great in the garden and will tend to spread. You will want to manage the size of the plant. You can transplant the part you want to remove to keep the plant from becoming a bush.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Iris are good survivors

It's pretty awesome the way iris shoot up in the spring of the year. I always worry the cold will zap them, but as you can see in this picture the hardiness of the iris is clearly evident. Three nights of below freeing weather and my iris seemed determined to tough it out. It will warm up tomorrow and I will be happy.

Monday, January 4, 2016

It's a New Year: A time of Inspiration and Concentration

Don't listen to the naysayers who talk sarcastically about all the people who make New Year's Resolutions only to fail miserably in achieving them. It is good to dream and good to try.

A new beginning is still a new beginning. Can you imagine if you did not have a new time to plant and cultivate in your garden in the spring time? We need the spring thaw. We need that soil to warm up. We need new seeds to plant. We need high expectations for what the new flowers are going to look like. We need the new. If we can see the fruit of our efforts to change in the garden we can also see the fruit of change in our lives.

The principles to succeed are surprisingly similar. We need seeds, we need new soil, we need to plant, we need to water, we need sunshine, we need to fertilize, we need to pull weeds, we need to prop up growing plants that need support, we need to harvest and we need to share the fruit of our lives. We need to care for the garden we grow just as we need to care for our own growth and development. If we have a plan and work our plan we can change our lives, just as we change our garden. See you in the garden.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Chrysanthemums Blooming

It seems my Mums  have taken so long to pop this year. The good news is the flower buds are plentiful and  are now starting to open. The color purple is so strong and a great variation from earlier blooms in the garden.

What is so enjoyable for me about my mums is that they are all an extension of the original mother plant that I made cuttings from. It is one of those wonders of nature how you can reproduce more plants by simply using the powers of Mother Nature at your finger tips.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

What I have learned from growing Iris

I remember seeing and smelling Iris at my Grand Mothers house when I was about 8 years old. I loved their appearance and fragrance. It was not until the 1990's when I began appreciating Iris enough to grow them. Our church had a collection of several spectacular Iris and I got the bug. I started a serious Iris garden about 2001. I joined the Iris Society about 2008. Since that time I have learned many tricks of the trade and experienced the disappointment of losing many iris to the iris bore. Here are some fundamentals I have learned by growing, caring for and transplanting iris. 

·         Iris do not like wet feet.  You should plant iris on a mound or a slope. They like good drainage. Too much water will lead to slugs, snails and rotting of the leaves; once the rust appears on the leaf; cut it off immediately.

·         Iris rhizomes like the sunlight. When you plant make sure the tops of the rhizome are exposed; not buried completely.  I have a slide that will illustrate this.

·         Iris thrive in the sunlight; or at least 50% sunlight.  You need sun to get a full bloom.

·         You must thin your rhizomes when they begin to get overcrowded in your bed; you will notice a decline in stalks and blooms.  Best is to use a sharp spade to split them. Sometimes I will transplant them into pots so I can share more of them with friends.

·         When you order from the Hybridizers / Iris Suppliers they send them out after the bloom; so expect to get them in June or July. I was in shock when I was told to plant them in the middle of the summer. I did, watered regularly, without over watering, and they grew beautifully. It was great when I finally saw the new growth.

·         You can force Iris to bloom in the greenhouse; force doesn’t sound politically correct; so let’s say you can advance the bloom by keeping them in light and warm. I heat my greenhouse at night if it is going to get near freezing.  I will generally translate some Iris into pots about April 1.  They will bloom at least two –three weeks early.

·         The standard dwarf Iris will bloom before the traditional tall bearded Iris.

·         The beauty of having some Iris in pots is that you get to observe their blooming process close up; my greenhouse table means I don’t have to bend over to get close. In addition I get some great photos of my Iris in the greenhouse.  Plus I can move the Iris into different studio settings; i.e. different backgrounds; patio bricks, grass, woods, textures of arbor vitae for example.   

·         Photographing Iris is a wonderful way to extend the enjoyment of their beauty; I sometimes wonder how much beauty one person can take in; it is so enriching to be around the beautiful.    

·         You can buy very fragrant Iris

·         You can see a gorgeous bed  of Japanese Iris at Kingwood Gardens in Mansfield

·         The Tony and Dorothy Willott  Iris Garden is located at the Rockefeller Greenhouse off of Martin Luther King Drive; right off of Rte 94 by Lake Erie. (First exit to the left on MLK Drive after turning South off of 94) Follow Greenhouse signs. Wonderful display of Iris beginning in early April and going through early July.

·         The amateur can hybridize new Iris cultivars by cross pollinating two different Iris.

·         Check out the Facebook page IRIS LOVERS for an amazing display of Iris in all their variety, and glory.

·         Send questions to or make comments on this site. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

From Dormant to Adorable

Hot pink on the Window Sill

This hot pink geranium (more properly called pelargonium) grew fabulously for me last season out in the garden and on my deck in big pots. I dug this one up before the freezing cold could ‘tip its wings’ and shook the dirt off the roots and let it dry a few days. Then I placed it (and several other geranium buddies) in my traditional winter hide aways (green garbage bags) and hid them in the rafters in my work room.
I knew I could capture Mother Nature’s magic in early January (if they had signs of budding) and guess what? They did. Buds seem to come early than I remember. I thought I always planting my mother plants in Mid-February. Whatever, when they are ready, I sneak a look. It is always exciting to see the buds and know it is time to put the once dorman plant into some fertile soil. I always think about how I have to invest a little electric to give them some light and heat. Seems I like a spend quite a bit to pull off this trick. I have heating pads and over head florescent light, down in my cool basement. You don’t really want a lot of light or heat; just enough to get those roots growing.  
Normally this plant along with others would have been thriving in my Hoop house since March, but my poly wore out and I decided not to replace it this year. So, no hoop house. Of course I miss it. I love being in a semi-humid greenhouse structure  watching my plants and seedlings getting a head start. Next year I think I will prepare a video about the process I go through to ‘bring them back to life’. I just love seeing some bright pink color in the Kitchen sun room in early spring. It is adorable. Can I say that about a flower?