The Biggest and Most Beautiful Petunias, Fluffy Ruffles, That I Grow (and Sell in the Spring)

CA-Giant-3Also known as Superbissima Grandiflora. In fact that is the only name I had for them for the longest time. After doing some research, I found out they used to be called California Giants and are an heirloom petunia from way back. They are no longer commercially grown, at least I’ve never seen them at the big box stores or local nurseries.

They are huge, sometimes reaching 5″ across! In colors of dark purple and lighter pink, they have fantastic, contrasting veining in their centers.

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Fluffy Ruffles

Fluffy Ruffles has, well, a lot of ruffling! Double Fluffy Ruffles has even more.

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Double Fluffy Ruffles

Dark green foliage, rounded leaves and thick stems compete the plant. Usually when a plant is not carried commercially in the petunia world, it’s because it doesn’t live up to the weather or produce reliably. I have not found this with this petunia. It hangs from a basket nicely, is a pleasure to deadhead, lasat for a long time and produces lots of blooms. I use it with other flowers to fill a pot. Because it is so stocky it holds up well to the weather in my garden.

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This is my favorite petunia! If you would like to come by and see it in my garden and the different ways I use it give me a call. I’ve had people come by and are stunned and perplexed when they see it. They don’t know what it is! You can buy them from me next spring as I will always grow it.

Planting Flower Seeds in the Snow

I started 36 kinds of flowers today, impatiens, petunias, pansies, lobelia, snapdragons, canterbury bells, stock and schizanthus. Was thinking I’d only need 12 seed flats for the pansies, then got to thinking about how much I’d like the other flowers to be blooming if possible and they take a long time from seed to flowering. This year I am starting them a little over 2 weeks earlier. Hard to believe I am in the greenhouse with no coat enjoying the sunshine before the incoming snowstorm…in December no less.

I wanted to start a petunia called petunia grandiflora superbissima  and couldn’t find any seed in the states. Thompson and Morgan used to have some retail outlets here and then for some reason stopped a couple of years ago. Made me sad, they had some really cool varieties. After doing an internet search for the seed, I found them available from three different seed houses in the UK. Two have agreed to sell them to me, I just hope shipping isn’t horrendous. Here is a picture of this flower. Beautiful. 4 to 5″ blooms, frilly with gorgeous and unusual veining in the throat. They are pinks and purples. They also have white but I haven’t had any that I remember. They come as a mixed color. One of my favorites.

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Sunflower Jelly – The Nerdy Farm Wife

And you thought there was nothing new under the sun! I might try this. If you do, let me know.

 

I first got the idea for making sunflower jelly whilst I was pondering the happy row of flowers in my garden and wondering what other uses I could extract from them besides the seed. I remembered reading that the petals were edible and could be sprinkled in salads. During further research, I read that Native Americans used a decoction from the head for respiratory ailments. Whether this is completely true or not, I have no

Source: Sunflower Jelly – The Nerdy Farm Wife

Cabin Fever Blues: Longing for Warmer Weather

Am spending the day ordering tomato and pepper seeds. I look outside and it is gray and dreary and cold. Doing this tasks makes me long for warmer temps, green grass, the warmth of the sun on my face.

Who knew? Every year I get tired of gardening and watering and thinking up ways to use my produce and start thinking about calling in an asphalt company. Then, long about Christmas, the seed catalogs start arriving and I start dreaming.

There is a new (to me) kind of nasturtium out, called Phoenix.51477-PK-P1

It’s petals have raggedy edges. The seed came a couple of days age. Looking forward to trying it. The first time I grew them, they were a major aphid magnet. Yuck. I tried again and haven’t had any problems since and they are on my list of favorite flowers now. I also love the variegated Alsaka

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Onions are up and Hot Peppers planted

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Onions are up! Impatiens are up! Snapdragons and lobelia too! It’s nice to see signs of spring, even if it’s only under lights in the house.  Oh, and I have Yugoslavian Buttercrunch coming up too.

I tried something different with my onions, I planted them individually in plug trays since they don’t seem to like being transplanted at a young age.

Yesterday I planted hot peppers, Hot peppers are notoriously slow to germinate and then sometimes they are spotty. Depends on the freshness of the seed and the variety. First I soaked them in weak tea. Pain in the butt to separate them, stuck to my fingers. Here is the list: Arbol, Bhut Jolokia (yes, the infamous ghost), Cayenne, Early Jalapeno, Habanero, Hungarian Yellow Wax, Maules Red Hot, Pasilla, Pepperoncini, Serrano, Tabasco, Anaheim, Shishitso

I don’t like hot peppers although I have been know to use a smidgen of jalapeno in my salsa.

We’ve had snow and cold weather until the pineapple express rolled in last night. Now it’s 45 degrees. Melting all our snow.

First Seeds of the Year

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I planted Candy onions in plug trays and Walla Walla Sweets in a broadcast method, the way I have always done them. We will see which does better when it comes to transplanting.

I also seeded some Lisanthus, Lobelia, Crytal Palace and Blue Wings,  pink Brugmansia, snapdragons and several varieties of Impatiens, including the uber expensive rosebud type.

Red Tomatoes and Crazy Weather in my Garden

I rec’d an interesting question from one of my customers. He asked me how my garden was growing and what was my favorite red variety. Every year I grow different tomato varieties, not all of them red. This year, I am loving the Marbella, Red Pear, Willamette and Giant Tree Tomato, all of which are red and very prolific. I won a grand prize at the fair for my Willamettes, an aspiring early heirloom from Oregon.

As for how my garden is doing, I’ve had the worst season ever. Every slug, every flea beetle, aphid and spider mite for miles afround has attacked my vegetable and flower garden. Powdery mildew, early blight, physiological damage (ie curly leaves) from the hot/cold/wet/dry weather we’ve had this summer, has blessed my plants too. Aaaagh!

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The Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina

This was an all day event for us. After entering the gate, you follow a lush, green winding road through the forest. I tried to imagine how it must have felt dressed in my finery, sitting in a horse drawn carriage, no, riding side saddle on a fine Tennessee Walker, trotting through the glade. It must have been such an honor to receive an invitation to stay with the Vanderbilts at their new country house. I’m sure it was the talk of the town.

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The Vanderbilt’s money came from steam ships among other things. They were one of the, if not the richest, families in the country. When the “house” first came into view, I was stunned with it’s majesty. It seemed so grand. I was unable to imagine that this was a home at one time. Where children grew up and played in the yard. And yet, having been into genteel society, they probably never ever considered that they were living in the lap of luxury. Such things just came naturally. The servants, the ponies, the fishing pond, the reflecting pools. Not a life I can conceive of ever living.

 This house is so large that I could imagine my seeing my husband in the drawing room and greeting him, welcoming him back from his trip only to find out that he’d been home for three weeks already! It is that big. I can’t imagine cleaning the bathrooms.

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If you go, wear good walking shoes. The inside tour takes several hours and I highly recommend taking advantage of the audio tour. You will get a lot more out of it than just walking around. The narration is well done. I especially loved the  winter garden, an inside courtyard filled with plants. High ceilings don’t even begin to convey how large the first hall is. It soars above your head. The grand staircase is off to the left and it is lined with windows and narrow doors that let the servants step out to clean them. 

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A lot of the walls were papered with velvets, fabrics, linens, tapestries and hand tooled leather. We got to tour the upstairs bedrooms and the guest’s living room, the billiard room, dining room (three fireplaces), the kitchen (there was a rotisserie kitchen, a pastry kitchen and the main kitchen.) There was an incredible indoor swimming pool, (you gotta see that one)and a bowling alley. The amenities they had in those days were astonishing.

The bad thing was that you weren’t allowed to take pictures inside the house. I think they want you to buy the postcards or the books. 

 Next on our list to do was the gardens. It is a walled garden filled with perennial and annual beds and rose gardens of which I took many pictures. The scents were incredible, the colors were vibrant. I can’t imagine how many people it takes to keep those gardens tidy. 

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Annual gardens just starting to fill in for summer.

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One of my faves, these look like Globemaster alliums with orange poppies.Image

Into the walled garden.Image

Pink roses with a center spot. None of the roses had names on the tags, just numbers. Maybe they are test roses or there is a brochure with the name sot match the numbers. Anybody know?

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Burgundy and chartreuse coleus in the pattern of diamonds. I was surprised to see them in the full sun.

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Red single roses with a yellow center. Very striking.

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A shot of the walled garden from another angle.

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The rose garden.

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This looks to be a coleus trained as a standard which I have never seen.Image

This is an attractive use of swiss chard in an ornamental basket with flowers.Image

A view of roses through a lattice keyhole.

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A wisteria covered walkway. Nice and cool on that hot day.Image

 

these are some kind of succulent hung in an old frame on the wall. Love it!

Just when we thought we were done (our feet were killing us and my knee was giving me considerable grief, all those stairs inside and out) we looked down onto a building filled with exotic tropicals and orchids. I picked up some design ideas and interesting color combinations.

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The conservatory

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Orchids and other tropicals.

Finally, our legs could do no more and we walked back up to the top to wait for the shuttle. I would have loved to have had a shuttle from the bottom of the gardens! 

 I would suggest that you take two days for the grounds and inside tour. As it were, we missed the azalea gardens, the italian garden, the reflecting pools, and the bass pond. There is only so much that a body could do.