Bearded Iris

What is a bearded iris?  The flower that my Mother and my Granny grew  every spring was an Iris.  Beautiful tall and purple it grows in full sun.  We had a long driveway in the front of the farm-house that had a long narrow bed of peonies and iris. Each spring in May I would walk to the mail box past these flowers.  They have huge flower heads with 3 petals that turn upward and 3 petals that turn down and the scent is unmistakable.  Homestead Orchard where my parents and I lived not only sold apples it sold flowers too. Each year I look forward to spring and can’t wait for the arrival of flowers like the bearded iris because it reminds me of a special time in my life.

imageBearded iris have a fuzzy line that runs down the middle of the petal. That’s how the  ” bearded ” got their name.  Other types of iris are Siberian and Japanese, which bloom later through June and July. Iris grow from rhizomes that store food for the next years growth.  They grow slightly below the surface of the ground and are visible to the eye. Most nursery’s carry these easy to grow perennials and as an extra bonus they multiply and should be divided every 3 to 5 years. Where do I get my iris?  I buy from a local grower in  Chillicothe Illinois.  Every year I stop and buy a new color or variety.  The plus to buying from a local grower is they usually have a demo garden with samples of all of their flowers.  These businesses are disappearing so whenever I find someone who sells some of their own nursery stock I feel like I have won the lottery. Iris only bloom for a short time but with a little care will last for years.image


Growing Flowers


Let’s face it growing anything today can be a daunting task.  Walk through the rows and rows of plants and vegetables in a nursery or big box store can be like a scavenger hunt.  Just try to ask a clerk for help there is a pretty good chance they may not know the difference between an annual and a perennial. Have no fear I can help.  Growing plants especially flowers is my passion.

Let’s start at the beginning. Have you seen the Lowe’s commercial?  The one where the gardener rolls out a “blanket” of plants and like magic it’s a beautiful  floral masterpiece. Wow how misleading! Does anyone think it’s that easy? I wish it was, but the truth be told ” a little knowledge goes a long way” Picking a spot and knowing the right kind of plants is a good start. Flowers are classified as either annuals or perennials.  An annual is a plant that completes its life cycle in one year. A perennial is a plant that lives for 3 years or more.  

Full sun plants  require 6 or more hours of full sun.  Plants that require partial sunlight need 3 to 5 hours of light each day.  Full shade plants do no like any sunlight at all. The varieties of full sun flowers are enormous.  It seems as if all flowers love the sun. Do not despair if your  garden is in the shade.  Some of the most lovely flowers are shade loving.  Knowing what kind of flowers you need sun or shade is half the battle. 

The internet is a great place to find beautiful gardens.  I could spend a rainy afternoon admiring stunning gardens on Pinterest.   The midwest is home to many gardens check out my Facebook page  it is totally devoted to flowers from my garden and plants that I love. Once you have an idea to what kind of flowers you love you are ready for the next step.

Make a sketch of your space.  Tall flowers should be close to the back. Shorter to the front.  Planting in groups of 3 to 5 provide for splashes of color instead of small dots of color. Lastly make a list of possible flowers you wish to purchase. A word of advice, not all nurseries may have the flower you are looking for. Listing a variety of flowers that will work well in your spot will save you from frustration.  I can’t tell you how many times I plan on buying a certain variety of plant and come home with another.  Here is a list of flowers I have grown with description as well as helpful hints.


Common edging plant that can be used in pots baskets or containers.  It grows short 4 to 6 inches tall and spreads. It comes in shades of white, purple and pink.  Available at most nurseries it is a tiny flower whose bloom is no bigger than the cursor on a computer screen.  It has a sweet scent and a good pollinator. It loves cool rainy weather and will bloom well into the fall.  For this reason it is a good plant for beginners.

Alysum also known as Sweet Alysum. Easy annual. Full to partial sun. Sold in nursuries in 6 packs. Can be started by seed.

Alyssum also known as Sweet Alyssum. Easy annual. Full to partial sun. Sold in nurseries in 6 packs. Can be started by seed.


Easy full sun annual. The plant Love Lies Bleeding is an old-time flower producing tassels of deep red flowers.  Plant at back of border near a wall or fence as the plant can grow up to four feet. Head to the seed rack at your local store as this plant is started from seed directly into your garden.

Amaranth. Love Lies Bleeding.Easy annual. Full sun. Start from seed.

Amaranth. Love Lies Bleeding.Easy annual. Full sun. Start from seed.


Another easy sun-loving annual. Each plant produces white umbrellas of lacy flowers. Here in the midwest there is a wild flower called Queen Anne’s Lace that blankets the roadsides and parkways.  Amni is a relative of that flower but produces larger flower heads that make for stunning floral arrangements.  Where can you find these beauties?  Unfortunately the only place I have seen them is through seed catalogs.

Amni. Easy sun loving annual.

Amni. Easy sun-loving annual.



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Daffodil – those beauties that announce spring is here.  They are the very first sign that winter is over.  Planting them now assures plenty of blooms for years to come.  Carefully dig holes or a trench 5 to 6 inches deep and spread a little bonemeal, cover with soil and your done.  Squirrels never seem to bother these bulbs. Try them you will be surprised how  easy planting bulbs can be.




Now is the time to plant bulbs. Planting is easy.  As long as they are planted tips facing up, five to six inches deep.  Plant groups of the same color to provide masses of color. Bonemeal is sold at most big box stores and is an excellent fertilizer for tulips.  Cover and forget about them.  Next spring you can be sure they will be a welcome sight.