Monday, July 30, 2012

Orange Zinnias vs Sunflowers

In my last post on this blog I shared my friend's sunflower like zinnia photos. Both of our plants were started from the same collection of seeds from my 2011 giant zinnias. Hers bloomed first and were a total surprise because, instead of looking like orange zinnias they looked like yellow sunflowers. The foliage on her plants looks just like the foliage on our plants so I expected to have the same result but we got the traditional orange zinnias after all (photo above). We have one more plant that hasn't bloomed yet so it will be interesting to see if the flowers end up yellow or orange.

Either way, we do have some yellow zinnias in our garden (photo above), although, unlike the orange, purple/pink and red zinnias, they weren't grown from seed (at least by us).

With the heat rising we've been staying indoors a lot more and the weeds are attempting (and it looks like winning) a takeover. Once things cool down we'll have a lot of work ahead of us. But for today anyway, I'm just going to enjoy the flowers. Happy gardening dear readers! May God bless you!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Zinnia to Sunflower!?!

Orange Zinnia Photo By Phyllis
Last year my husband and I grew some giant zinnia bushes (they were taller than me and I'm about 5'7" tall) from a wildflower seed mix. The above photo is of a flower from one of those bushes. The flowers attracted butterflies, bees and a nice variety of birds, including yellow finches. We entered flowers from these zinnia bushes into two local county fairs and they won first prize in their categories at both fairs. We loved these zinnias so much we wanted to grow them again this year so we saved plenty of seeds (for ourselves and our gardening family members and special friends).

Well, now that the first of the plants is blooming (in my dear friend Renee's yard) it turns out that even though these seeds came from orange zinnia plants they look like yellow sunflowers!

Yellow Zinnia / Sunflower Photo By Renee
How wild is that? I had heard that zinnias were called "Mexican sunflowers" and I knew that seeds don't always produce plants identical to the mother plant but I had no idea that an orange zinnia could produce something so very sunflower like. This year's plants are a lot shorter too so it's not just hte flowers that are different. Even the height of the bushes and size of the foliage is different (the leaves on the yellow flowered zinnias are bigger than those that were on the orange flowered zinnias). It looks like we won't have any orange zinnias to enter in this year's fair but I can't wait to see our yellow sunflower like zinnias bloom. Have you had any garden surprises like this? I'd love to hear about them!

Yellow Zinnia / Sunflower Bush Photo By Renee

Monday, July 9, 2012

After the Storm, Japanese Maple Seedling Update & Creative Container Gardening

The five (three red and two yellow) wax begonias fell victim to the big storm we had at the end of June and that caused widespread damage and power outages throughout our region. I wanted to replace the begonias with three creeping Jenny plants and two miniature rose like double impatiens but Ben bought five little lavendar plants. It's pretty shady back there so if they don't survive and the garden center still has the plants I wanted we'll replace them. If they do survive we'll have plenty of lavendar to rub (I love the smell).

Our bird bath got toppled by the storm so my hubby weighted the base down. It needs another cleaning already but the birds don't seem to mind. On really hot days we see many birds using it at the same time but most days they use it one at a time.

Our potted African daisies weren't looking so good so my husband got this orange echinacea (coneflower) for in front of the garage. I don't recall seeing echinacea grown as container plants but I hope it does well. If it starts to fail we'll pop it in the ground and get something else for this spot. I'm trying to nurse the African daisies back to health but hubby thinks they're past saving. We'll see. Potted plants need frequent watering when the temps get above 90, never mind 100 degrees.

This is our "mother" echinacea plant. It's the first one we planted here and it's almost as big as the Josee lilac to the right of it. The storm split it down the middle and had it flopped all over so my husband used a creative blend of stakes, trellises and twine to support it and it's doing fine. In the fall we should probably divide it.

Of the four Japanese maple seedlings we started with this spring I think this is our lone survivor. It's semi shaded by the dahlia that shares its pot.

Here's an overview of the creative container garden that holds the Japanese maple seedling (the seedling is in the far left corner). The main plant in the pot is a dahlia that I had forgotten about and accidentally pulled out in early spring. So the dahlia will be a late bloomer. There's also another mystery plant that I'm hoping is a portulaca.

If you like beautiful photos, please remember to check my inspirational blog for the best flower and foliage photos of the week (every Tuesday; it's my "this week in my Maryland garden" series there).

Happy gardening!