61 Comments

  1. Becky
    April 30, 2013 @ 10:42 am

    We just got our fence all finished and I can’t wait to establish some flower beds. Thanks for the tips and inspiration!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 30, 2013 @ 11:54 am

      You’d love the zinnia… they can get pretty big, but would look nice in front of a fence!! I know you’re loving this weather!

      Reply

  2. Sarah
    April 30, 2013 @ 11:11 am

    I just planted some Zinnias as of yesterday! I hope they last. I have a “black” thumb, and our flower beds are not natural by any means, they go down about 2 feet, then hit concrete. Your garden looks fantastic!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 30, 2013 @ 11:55 am

      Well, I don’t want to doubt your ability to kill any plant you put your mind to… but I would definitely give the zinnia the benefit of the doubt (at least until they die). If you have full sun, they are really the easiest/most prolific flower!

      Reply

  3. Laurel
    April 30, 2013 @ 11:40 am

    I am SO in on this!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 30, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

      I assume you approve of not forcing ourselves to actually finish previous projects, but just move on to new ones.

      Reply

      • laurel
        April 30, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

        I don’t see why anyone would want to address their past failures when they can charge full-speed-ahead into another project that will get added to the “someday” pile several months down the road.

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          April 30, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

          So obvious… I have no idea why Paul is always suggesting I go out there and do something about it, when obviously it’s not hurting anyone, just sitting there collecting dust.

          Reply

  4. Laurel
    April 30, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    Oh, and I am addicted to dahlias. I have pretty much every color, they are SO rewarding… except when you plant them in the beds that nasturtiums keep reseeding in, and then you can’t cut any of the flowers from that bed because they’re coated in aphids.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 30, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

      Do you dig your tubers in fall? I had all intentions of doing it (or, making Paul do it…) but by the time fall got here, I no longer cared at all… I get total garden-burnout by the end of the season… Some of them are coming up, but I’d say 70% didn’t survive.

      I’d had the intention of ordering some SUPER giant dahlias… we went to the dahlia show at Longwood gardens last summer and they were CRAZY awesome… but I’m trying to not get carried away this season, and doing only basics.

      Reply

      • laurel
        April 30, 2013 @ 12:42 pm

        I have always thought what a good idea it would be to dig my tubers in fall. My stepmother does about 50% of the time with varying success. I have never dug mine. One year she lost about 70% of her tubers that were dug, and my un-dug tubers were all that was left of her once vast collection of different varieties. I gave most of them back to her, and now have nowhere to put any more new ones. Luckily I usually lose 1-2 plants each year, so I get to indulge in my compulsive online plant shopping habit every now and again.

        I have a couple favorites – a la mode is a solid performer and lasts beautifully as cut flowers. Emory Paul is high maintenance and tends to buckle with too heavy a rain, but the flower color, pattern, and size are so obscene that it makes it worth the drama each year.

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          April 30, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

          Um. Holy shit… googled Emory Paul. That’s a flower.
          I refrained from ordering any of the giant dahlias, precisely because I know the staking/drama/rainstorm/random act of god… that strikes them to the ground right when they are FINALLY paying off… and I try to avoid that kind of thing.

          Reply

          • Laurel
            April 30, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

            I’ve gotten frantic phone calls from my stepmother on vacation instructing me to drive to her house and cut as many dahlias as I can fit into my car as the forecast says there will be a rainstorm the next day. I like having something to obsess about every now and again, so it’s a good(ridiculous) outlet for my nervous energies.

            Reply

            • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
              April 30, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

              Feeling kind of sad I decided not to sign up for that… a nostalgia for plant-freaking-out.

  5. Garden, Home and Party
    April 30, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    Victoria,
    First of all, thank you! I know everyone says this, but seriously, I NEVER WIN ANYTHING. In addition, I’m a enthusiastic gardener so the shiny trowel will get lots of use. I’d rather dig in the dirt than clean and dust any day. I’ll be taking extra special care of this tool since I’m sure you’ll be checking up on it from time to time. 😀

    Your picture of your “old house” garden is amazing. Even if it only looked like that for 3 days out of 365 I’d be happy. Gardens are like people, they’re vulnerable to bad hair days [figuratively speaking], outside influences affecting the way they look (read: feel). and seasonal moods. I’ve been taking a gazillion pictures of my back yard this week since it probably looks better than it has in years…why? Because I know come the warmer days, coupled with the natural life cycle of most plants, it will look like crap in a few weeks…then I’ll have to listen to Mr. B. ask innocently, what happened to your garden? Even though he watched me slave away for hours on the weekend, turning the soil, deadheading, fertilizing.
    I will be trying your shade loving plant list, but you’ll have to post lots of pictures of your beautiful and colorful zinnias so I can live vicariously.
    xo,
    Karen
    I have tried and the weather in my yard is too damp for zinnias and dahlias. I don’t have enough sun and we enjoy mother nature’s air conditioner, the coastal influence of fog that burns off early but leaves the air slightly cooler and more moisture laden.

    Reply

    • Garden, Home and Party
      April 30, 2013 @ 11:45 am

      Oops, I don’t know how that paragraph dropped below my signature, but you can get the jest of what I was rambling on about.

      Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 30, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

      Comments have rearranged themselves a few times on my last few posts… once, a top comment dropped to the bottom… for no reason I can understand!

      In all seriousness… that may be the only nice photo I have of the roses! I mean, I didn’t photograph everything obsessively, but STILL! It only looked like that two weeks out of the whole summer… I actually wonder if our summers were too humid… I would read garden chatboards where people said how easy their roses were, and I was like, EHHH? Maybe I need to live in Arizona.

      Reply

    • Laurel
      May 1, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

      You still have time! Dahlias don’t usually even get planted around here til the beginning of May.

      Reply

  6. Susan Hauser
    April 30, 2013 @ 12:31 pm

    I’ve been gardening for years but somehow missed out on zinnias (always been somewhat of a ‘perennial girl’). I’ve got lots of the Benary Giant seeds, among others, and will direct sow them this week. I’m so excited! So much bang for so little buck. And no waiting for the sleep/creep/leap payoff of perennials. I also planted some dahlia tubers by the pool gate. It’s my first try at sunflowers as well. I’m hoping for a lush, colorful garden (like yours!) with as little effort as possible this year. Fingers crossed!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 30, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

      I was a perennial girl too… or, tried to be. To theoretically enjoy the garden while doing LESS gardening… but the pictures are so pretty on the seed sites, that I always end up with stuff I didn’t mean to buy.

      However, you cannot beat the ease of something like sunflowers. I mean, that’s practically not even gardening, right? And the payoff of dahlia/zinnia blooms is way more than the effort.

      Reply

  7. laurel
    April 30, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

    I also ended up drinking a few glasses of wine and ordering “field grade gladiolus” at 75% off on a gardening website, then while reviewing my order later, finding that the $2.50 that I spent will get me 50 bulbs. I’m at least a little panicked trying to figure out where to put that many bulbs where the dogs won’t destroy them.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      April 30, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

      Oh, I LOVE shopping for seeds… it’s so EASY. Then they come, and I’m like? WHY would I buy all of this? Now I have to grow it… plus, I’ll buy stuff I don’t even particularly want. Like Thyme. Which I never cook with. Ever. Not once. And yet every year I grow it. Why? Because I like the idea of an herb garden?

      Reply

      • Laurel
        May 1, 2013 @ 5:11 pm

        Thyme is killer with mushrooms. I use it all the time, and usually grow it out of the side holes in a strawberry pot. Until we have a particularly hot and dry summer and in protest I decide to stop watering. I only killed thyme and some 40 year old azaleas.

        Reply

      • A City Girl
        May 10, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

        LOL I am also planting herbs this year but will I use them? Are you kidding me? All I can think about is all the pee Bear has been depositing in my garden. Uuugh.

        I tried planting some seeds this year but it did not work out for me. In fact so far the only seeds that have grown was some lemon seeds, that I got free from a lemon I sliced for the tea I was sipping while reading on Pinterest how you should plant lemon seeds in your kitchen window (so I did).

        I really wanted some giant Zinnias and they emerged from the soil and then they wilted and died. I gave them plenty of water I don’t know what happened. I have NEVER had any luck with seeds. NEVER. :-(

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          May 11, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

          Lol… Bear. I have no idea why your seeds died… sad face.

          But on the bright side, sounds like you’re on your way to a lemon tree!! (In what, 10 years?) :)

          Reply

  8. Sarah Wolpert
    April 30, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

    How do you plant your zinnias? Do you plant them in seed packs first and then plant out, plant in nice neat rows or just sprinkle and go? I’ve tried sprinkle and go and I only got 1 plant. Granted, it was huge and gorgeous but still, >1 would be great. I also put some in a plastic nursery pack and got much better success rates but it is a bit of work. What’s your secret?

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 1, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

      I start them inside because I like to give them a head start, and get flowers a few weeks sooner. But I’m surprised you didn’t have better luck… since my understanding is that you should definitely be able to sow and grow.

      I’ve considered that, thinking I was doing more work than necessary… I’ll try planting some out and see how it goes… is it possible it was too cold for them to germinate?

      Reply

  9. Jessica@CapeofDreams
    April 30, 2013 @ 3:04 pm

    How easily I fall for suggestions. Now, I am thinking about zinnias. I need zinnias. Add that to the hellebores you mentioned last week. I spent all of last weekend in the garden, but I guess that I should get back out there.

    Now, I also need to make something with love. You are giving me so much work!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 1, 2013 @ 12:07 pm

      Well… the love part is optional. How about that? It’s just half the work, now…

      If you do the zinnia (and have full sun,) you will thank me. I promise. Unless you get mildew… then you might hate me.

      Reply

  10. maude
    April 30, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

    I know that many people prefer to garden organically, but for roses I would recommend using Bayer Advanced disease control. I spray it every 2 weeks on my hybrid teas and no longer have any blackspot or mildew. I’m not crazy about chemicals but it really does work, especially if your growing them for cutting:)
    Maude

    Reply

    • Barbara
      April 30, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

      Maude, I understand how you feel but there are better ways to prevent black spot that don’t harm the environment. Have you tried a mixture of baking soda and botanical oil? Also if you buy roses that have glossy dark green leaves, they are far more resistant to black spot and mildew. Bayer is an evil corporation. They, as well as Monsanto, manufacture the neonicotinoids that are killing the bees. I would never support them by buying their products.

      Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 2, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

      I do try to avoid chemicals… but I also found that the most fragrant, beautiful roses were also the ones most prone to disease, and if I were to grow them again, I would probably be forced into spraying… it was too disheartening to have the plants fall apart mid-summer.

      I did try the dark-glossy leaf recommendation, and it was certainly true, but I also found the flowers were far less scented.

      Reply

      • A City Girl
        May 10, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

        I purchased some roses last year that were on sale at Big Lots….. Almost all of them grew but they were not what the package said they were. This year I decided to get first pick and buy early so I purchased 5 bushes. 3 of them have died already. the others are green, no blooms yet. My criteria was that they have a strong scent. Didn’t know they were prone to diseases. GREAT. I don’t understand… my sister got 2 of the rose bushes from Big Lots about 5 years ago and they grew beautifully and smelled glorious. In fact she had people coming over stealing her roses (made her so mad). She never sprayed or did anything to them. atleast she said she didn’t do anything to them…

        Reply

        • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
          May 11, 2013 @ 1:40 pm

          Sounds like your sister is one of the lucky ones… I’ve met some people who say they have NO issues w/ roses… there must be some combination of perfect conditions where she has them.

          As for yours? I TOTALLY feel your pain.

          Reply

  11. Alex
    April 30, 2013 @ 6:48 pm

    “Choose flowers that will withstand the natural occurrence of water falling from the sky”. HAHAHAHAHA! OMG dying. I managed to kill all of the perennials in our front garden the first year. The ones that are supposed to come back. Oh no, I found a way to remove them and it wasn’t even intentional. Very beautiful flowers!

    Reply

  12. Barbara
    April 30, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

    Hey! Another thing we have in common. I am a cut flower grower and grow all of the flowers you mentioned (250 lisianthus plants each year) and a lot more. The orange binary zinnias are fabulous. There are variations in the shades of orange and some of them are a beautiful deeper orange. I also love stuff that reseeds itself like orlaya and cynaglossum (Chinese forget-me-nots). I call them volunteers and they are always welcome. I’d love to show you my garden but how would I upload a picture?

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 2, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

      I would LOVE to see your garden (although then I will be totally dissatisfied with mine!!!) if you have a photo online, grab the link out of the browser bar and stick it in a comment. I’ll re-write the code so it shows up as an image… if not, you can email me at: victoriabarnes (at sign) hotmail.com

      Lisianthus was my FAVORITE… until I grew the zinnia. I kind of feel like I sold out in favor of big and bright and easy… but having Lisianthus trays inside starting in February was such a hassle…

      Reply

  13. Gaenor
    May 1, 2013 @ 8:06 am

    We were really lucky with our garden when we moved in 3 years ago – the previous owner was a massively keen gardener, so we had so many plants in our garden that even I haven’t managed to kill them all yet. The flip side was his obsession with concrete, which apparently isn’t very kid friendly – it makes holes in them. This meant days of work for my dad and brother in law (not me!) who broke it all up and dumped it in a skip, then laid a lawn.
    And we have some beautiful plants, which keep coming back despite the climate – a lovely peony (with one bloom), a huge camellia tree, forsythia, a quince tree, and loads of stuff I just don’t know the names for.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 2, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

      Laughing at the concrete/holes in kids…

      An established garden is priceless! You’re so lucky!! I sometimes think that by the time I get everything arranged and it fills in years from now, we’ll probably be ready to move.

      Reply

  14. Heidi S.
    May 1, 2013 @ 9:38 am

    It has been on my list to pick up Zinnia seeds for a couple of weeks now. I have to say that they are the only annual from seed that I have had really reliable luck with. Have you put your seeds in yet? I usually put my annual seeds in around May 15-30th (in an ideal world where I get everything done on my to do list). I am hoping that HD or Target has some of benary’s giant zinnias. I also like Queen Red Lime, but I didn’t order from any seed catalogs this year, so who knows what I will end up with!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 2, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

      I start them inside… and I put out the first batch of seedlings last weekend. It’s early, yes… but I’m betting on ongoing mild weather. Plus, I was tired of them underfoot in the kitchen.

      One of the commenters above said that she did sow and grow, and was disappointed with her results… I was surprised. But maybe she got bad seed.

      Reply

  15. Mandy
    May 1, 2013 @ 9:00 pm

    Congrats to KLBunch! i hope the fairy dust doesn’t wear off anytime soon.
    Beautiful Flowers!! if i could grow flowers like that i’d open a florist. Just gorgeous!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 2, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

      I said that to Paul once—how I’d like to start a flower farm… he said it sounded like a lot of work—for him.

      Reply

  16. Danielle
    May 2, 2013 @ 1:14 am

    Oooh… Now I REALLY want to plant Dahlias. They are so pretty! So I’m curious… what are you favorite low maintenance, “full sun” plants? Even though we are in the rainy Pacific Northwest, we live on a hill side that gets tons of light. You are giving me hope that I might be able to keep something alive.

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 2, 2013 @ 1:23 pm

      Taller: Shasta daisy. Blackeyed Susan. Echinacea… plus, you can divide these after two years, you’ll have twice as many plants…

      Shorter: Lavender. Sage.
      There a million others… but those are pretty much guaranteed to be at any garden center.

      Sunflowers aren’t perennial, but are so easy, they practically count as one.

      Reply

      • Danielle
        May 2, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

        Great suggestions! We have the Shasta’s and they do abundantly well. We even had our neighbor half his and Tyson had them in the ground before I could say “No! We’ve got our own to half.” Oh well… I love it when they flower and need to add some Blackeyed Susans just to mix it up. Thanks!

        Reply

    • Laurel
      May 2, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

      Danielle –
      I am in the same boat in my yard. Baking hot full sun all day in the summer, pouring rain in winter (in the Seattle area). Succulents actually do quite well here, lavender, salvia, wormwood, thyme, lupine, etc. Dahlias also do quite well in full-sun situations, but will need some supplemental watering.

      Reply

      • Danielle
        May 2, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

        Thanks, Laurel! I love succulents and need to add more of those too. I haven’t played with wormwood and lupine so I’ll definitely check them out.

        Reply

  17. lindsey
    May 3, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

    Do you recommend any particular seed companies? Also, just wondering how they may differ from just going to Lowe’s? I kill most plants. I am terrible. So bad I have even killed MINT!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 6, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

      Sorry for the delayed response! I was away and my email just piled up!!

      I’ve ordered from a few places… Johnny’s, Harris Seeds, Amazon…
      As long as you’re actually buying a packet that’s branded Benary’s Giant, you’re getting the “real” thing. You should be fine buying from HD or a garden supply place.

      p.s.—Johnny’s sells a house-brand called giant dahlia zinnia, that’s more or less identical.

      Reply

  18. e cascio
    May 3, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

    I read this after putting hoops around my peonies today. How have I not known about these Benery Giant Zinnias?? I am obsessed now and want them immediately, but will probably have to wait until Johnny’s ships them. Thank you for introducing us!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 6, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

      I always felt trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with my old peonies. I’m in a much better place with the zinnia… you will love them for their endless blooms.

      Reply

  19. Sara
    May 6, 2013 @ 2:20 pm

    Congratulations Blogger Friend! I enjoy your blog, so I have nominated you for the Best Moment Award! Please go here: http://sarajanelle.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/best-moment-award/ for further instructions! Enjoy!

    Reply

  20. Annet
    May 20, 2013 @ 10:16 pm

    I have spent far too much time reading back through your blog and loving it all – esp your way with describing it!
    We’ve recently purchased a 1927 small home that has some character and then some very bad things (popcorn ceiling anyone?), so I’m being inspired. Just wish I had a Paul that I could borrow for a while. My hubby is not so inclined to get shit done, nor to do any renos. I reno’d a lot of our house in Australia but I tend to take my time and he hates living in chaos…
    Bathroom is the first start, but have to have it completely planned before I start (including owning the tiles!) but excited to gather some more ideas. Found you on Houzz which led me to your toilet post and it got better from there :)
    And I know little to nothing about gardening, so looking forward to spring ever properly arriving here in order to get to work outside as well.
    Can’t wait to read more!

    Reply

    • Victoria Elizabeth Barnes
      May 21, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

      Whoever invented popcorn paint was a demented individual. We scraped it off some of the ceilings – fortunately there was wallpaper UNDER the popcorn… it was about as awesome as it sounds, but the wallpaper did at least provide a barrier.

      You are SO SO SO right to plan EVERYTHING first. I think I’ve only really learned that in the last year. After doing one too many projects where I’m still making decisions while Paul is trying to barrel ahead… not a good mix!!

      Nice to “meet” you! Good luck with your bath!

      Reply

  21. Our first garden: how to plant a cutting garden with your kids
    May 10, 2014 @ 5:49 pm

    […] people’s experiences with cutting gardens. Yet another reason I love blogs. I really liked this lady’s the best, I think she might be British which made her even cuter, she actually seems to live in PA about 6 […]

    Reply

  22. Ella
    April 17, 2016 @ 8:44 pm

    Hey Victoria!
    You only mentioned lisianthus in passing, but I was wondering if you grow yours from seed or buy them as plants. I saw a few bouquets with them online & I would love to grow them, but I’m reading they are difficult and best started in the winter! I’m afraid I’ve missed the boat.. Unless perhaps you know of venders in the Philly area that sell them as plants?

    Reply

  23. Sally
    May 1, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

    How do you grow all of those pretties in the ground without getting gopher problems? I am looking at building tons of boxes.

    Reply

    • Sally
      May 1, 2016 @ 1:15 pm

      I am new to growing flowers for cutting. I am in love with zinnias!

      Reply

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