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Flowers for Everyone!

I'll admit it, I LOVE FLOWERS. The older I get the more flowers are in my garden. Some would say all garden space should be devoted to edible crops. Recently another gardener told me in snobbish tone "I grow food forests only. There's no excuse for growing plants that are not food." I don't subscribe to that belief or any kind of gardening snobbery. You don't have to choose either/or, you can have edible plants AND flowers in your garden. Surround yourself in what you love and be sustainable.


Many flowers, such as those on dill, attract and harbor ladybugs, an important beneficial bug in the garden. With the hard-working lady bug on duty eating aphids you can avoid spraying insecticide. Nectar in flowers sustain bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. In turn these nectar-loving friends are providing an essential garden function, pollinating. Fruit and seeds that follow flowering feed happy song birds. Some flowers are also edible for us humans.


A garden rich in flowers year-round is a delight for the senses. Observing the colors, shapes, and textures of these flowers and the wildlife they attract lowers my stress, brings me joy, and enhances the quality of my life.


Many of you know that in January of this year my husband and I lost our rental home and garden of eight years. We scrambled to dig and pot up hundreds of plants in the middle of winter within two weeks. These transported plants will live in their transitional containers for the year until we purchase our own home and begin gardening anew.


For this year while living with a friend I could not live a year without gardening. I've had plenty of gardening projects to keep me busy during this transitional year. In addition to numerous containers I carved out two new annual flower beds. I am excited to share with you the process I've documented over the last two months.


To begin on April 18th I selected two areas of ground between the concrete patio and where I'm growing vegetables in one raised bed and a dozen large containers. This is a full-sun location in the center of the backyard that receives about 8 hours of direct sunlight per day. First, I removed the weed-blocking landscape fabric and cardboard boxes that were covering the bare ground to reveal very compacted soil. And here were my next steps:


The flower bed begins with lightly forking the soil to break up packed clay. As most of you know the trusty garden fork is in my top 5 gardening tools!



















Once the soil is gently aerated and lightly turned with the spading fork I added an organic granular fertilizer. I applied one cup for this bed approximately 3 feet by 6 feet





















I added 3 inches of compost spread evenly directly over the fertilizer and ground soil. I had on hand 'White Lightening' from Dean's Innovations leftover from filling the raised bed and vegetable containers.






















I planted seedlings/starts for annual flowers directly into the compost and watered well














I framed the bed with short garden fencing, I brought from the old garden, to discourage cats. I sourced unused pavers and stones from around the yard to decorate the edge of the bed and suppress weeds.














Here's the flower garden at two weeks old













Here's the garden at three weeks. I added pots on either side and a trellis to create an entrance to the vegetable garden. In the pots I planted seeds for green pole beans, yellow pole beans, and 'Lemon Queen' sunflowers.















Here is the flower garden at five weeks












The flower garden at 9 weeks














In two short months my flower garden is bursting with flowers and literally buzzing with life. A variety of bee species are loving this garden and a yellow swallowtail butterfly visits daily.


The annual flowers I included in this garden are: calendula, cleome, cosmos, marigolds, snapdragon, strawflower, and zinnia. I planted all these annual flowers from six-packs of plants. There are quite a few weeds in this soil, so I wagered starting from direct seeding in the garden wouldn't stand a good chance. The ideal time for planting an annual flower garden in Portland is in April and May. However, if you have not and still want a flower garden this summer, you aren't too late! You can still plant annual flowers from plants all this week. Buy the largest plants you can find and get them in the ground ASAP. Keep them well watered for a few weeks until they get established, especially important if we experience another heat snap.


As you can see in these photos my new small-space organic sustainable garden is bursting with a substantial variety of healthy vegetables, fruit, herbs, AND flowers in just over two months! It is both practical and pretty. Heal yourself in nature and enjoy flower all summer long!


Happy Gardening & Be Well,

Jolie


The flower garden at 9 weeks old on June 20th 2019

The flower garden at 9 weeks old on June 20, 2019

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