Notes from Herb:


The return of flowers brings a smile to winter-worn gardeners everywhere. Let's face it: we can only admire the winter landscape for so long and then we just have to break out and scream "Flowers! Must have Flowers!" OK, maybe you don't get as primal as I do about the return of color to nature, but springtime flowers warm the cockles of hearts throughout the world.

These Black-Eyed Susans (all yellow on the bottom) were a bit early this year, but they were the perfect complement to the early blooming Blanket Flowers (peachy orange with yellow tips on the top). Add the early spring lavender flowers of good old-fashioned garden sage, the fragrant, frilly leaves of Powis Castle Artemisia and a couple of great big pink roses and the result is one great looking country style bouquet.

I rarely make a trip to the garden just to harvest flowers, but I love to take a last walk around after my garden chores and throw together a bouquet to accompany me inside for the evening.  Total picking and arranging time for the bouquet above was about 5 minutes. Call me crazy, but that is my kind of fun.

It is always fun, too, to watch for the stellar new spring combinations. This year I was graced with an awesome threesome that came about purely by accident. I would never have been clever enough to dream this combo up; and yet, because one of them was sown by the wind, I now have a group that will be repeated often throughout my garden. The magic happened in a small area under a tree--a problem area, really. Gophers decided this was a great place to dine and I had finally resorted to planting a single Bowle's Mauve Wallflower in a gopher cage at the base of the tree. I planted assorted other plants around the Wallflower but nothing really happened. You know how it is. You are planting with that eternal hope for the wow factor, but more often than not, it comes out more like the ow factor. So you try again and again until the magic happens. Over a couple of years the Wallflower grew to nice size and finally covered up its "very attractive" gopher cage. Last fall I rescued many little pots of Dianthus Nova from the compost crusher and planted them around the outside circumference of the Wallflower. I did have some reservations about how the bright magenta flowers of the clove pink Nova would blend with the vibrant purple of the Wallflower, but, what the heck, I was desperate; and when you are desperate, some major planting faux pax can occur. When this spring hit, I noticed some McKanna's Giant Columbines had taken up residence among the Dianthus. Chosen perennial of the year in 1955, McKanna's Giant Columbines are still one of the most beautifully delicate perennials available. As it turned out, its tall stature was just the perfect punctuation for my low growing Dianthus. As you can tell, I have a winner. I am thrilled with the marvel of spring that is my small half-circle under the tree.