Upright Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum 'Northwind')

How to grow and hardiness: Full sun, also drought tolerant. Hardy to Zone 4. Grows five feet tall.
This impressive switch grass cultivar hails from Northwind Perennial Farm in Wisconsin.
'North Wind' has wide, green foliage and a strongly upright growth habit similar to that of 'Karl Foerster' feather reed grass (Calamagrostis x acutiflora, 'Karl Foerster'), but it blooms later.
In September, the plant sports attractive narrow flower plumes held erect atop the foliage. Foliage and flowers become tawny gold in fall and this color persists through the winter.
This plant is my favorite switch grass cultivar - its strong vertical habit and vigorous growth makes this one of the handsomest of the switch grasses

Growing switch grasses in the garden

Panicum virgatum is a long-lived, warm-season grass.
Typically, it starts to grow in late spring, thriving in the heat of summer and flowering profusely in July or August. When the airy flowers open they are often attractively tinged with pink.
Switch grass cultivars are drought-tolerant once established, and they also tolerate soggy soils, which means they grow well in spots that are wet in early spring.
In his book, The Color Encyclopedia of Ornamental Grasses, Rick Darke, notes that self-sowing is usually minimal, but that it can be prolific on open moist soil. "This," he says, "can be valuable for naturalizing, but can be a problem when attempting to maintain uniform sweeps of clonal cultivars, since seedlings often differ noticeably from parents."

Ornamental grasses: maintenance

Established grasses are the ultimate low maintenance plants. Once a year all you need to do is give then an annual haircut early in spring.
Cut them back to within six to 10 inches of the ground. Use hedge shears and wear gloves - some species have very sharp edges.
Try to cut down the previous year's growth of cool season grasses as soon as the snow melts because that's when they start to grow. If you leave this job too long you could chop off the tips of the leaves.
When cutting these grasses down, leave about one-third of previous year's growth in place. The new growth will quickly hide the old plant material.
You can cut warm-season grasses right down to the ground if you like, but if you are doing the job late, be sure not to cut into the new growing tips. I like to cut these grasses down a little later because I find that the previous season's buff-colored foliage looks good in with the spring-flowering bulbs.
We have found the most efficient way to cut back the grasses in our large beds is to use a gas-powered hedge trimmer, which we rent for the job.
In some beds, we cut the grasses down in layers. This ensures that the dead plant material is nicely chopped up into mulch that can be left on the beds. In other beds, where the mass of dead material is just too much, we cut at the base and take the dead plant material away.

Blue Switch grass (Panicum virgatum 'Dallas Blues'):

How to grow and hardiness: Full sun, hardy to Zone 5. Grows 60 inches tall.
This stunning Panicum virgatum selection was originally found in Dallas, Texas, which inspired its name.
Although from a warm part of the country, 'Dallas Blues' grows equally well in colder regions. I've grown it in my zone 5 garden for five years now and it winters very well.
'Dallas Blues' grows into an upright clump of fountain-like, with foliage that's powdery blue. In early fall, each clump is topped with stunning reddish purple flower plumes. The leaves turn a copper color in fall that persists well through the winter.
Rick Darke notes that 'Dallas Blues' has a higher than average drought tolerance. I have it growing on a sandy-loam hillside that can get very dry, and it has survived severe drought with occasional watering.

Planting tips - when to plant, spacing

Ornamental grasses can be grouped into cool- or warm-season types, depending on when they do most of their growing.
Cool-season grasses: Like cool season lawn grasses, these ornamental grasses do most of their growing in spring when temperatures are cool and moisture is plentiful.
Cool season ornamental grasses such as blue fescue (Festuca species and cultivars) and feather reed grass (Calamagrostis species and cultivars), grow best at temperatures from above freezing to 75°F (24°C).
They start into new growth earlier in spring and tend to flower early, stop growth in the heat of summer, and resume when temperatures cool in early fall.
Warm season grasses: Warm-season grasses like maiden grass Miscanthus species and fountain grass (Pennisetum species and cultivars) require patience. They're slow to get growing, but thrive in temperatures from 75° to 85°F (24 to 30C°). Most come into flower in late summer or early fall.
The best way to deal with their spring tardiness is to surround them with tulips or daffodils for spring color before they get growing. Then as the grasses start to grow, they do a nice job of camouflaging the bulb foliage as it dies back.

Using grasses in the garden

Few plants are as versatile, carefree and dynamic as these grasses.
And yes, they do flower in subtle ways that grasses do - and they make wonderful companion plants for flowering perennials.
Grasses contribute a contemporary design edge that will jazz up almost any garden. They really deliver on low maintenance and high style.
The biggest misconception about grasses is that they are invasive and will take over your garden. In fact, most grasses sold for home garden and landscape purposes are well-behaved clumping types that won't misbehave.
Grasses are magical because they're never static. They emerge lush green early in the season, and by summer they've filled out and begin to plume or flower.
Through the season, they move with the slightest breeze and sound wonderful when the wind rustles through them.
In the fall, you get the later warm season grasses pluming and then changes of color to wheat, gold, flaming orange or copper.


To feed your naturalized bulbs, work a good organic compost or well-rotted cow manure into the soil when planting. Then add a 1-inch layer of compost as a mulch each fall.
Alternatively, apply a slow-release bulb food, such 9-9-6, when planting, and again each fall (sprinkle fertilizer over the planting area at the rate recommended on the label).
To maintain your bulbs, avoid cutting back leaves before they have yellowed to allow bulbs to regenerate for next year's flowers. Allow the leaves to grow for at least six weeks after flowering.
Avoid working soil in early spring just as bulb foliage begins to grow and avoid any use of lawn herbicides while the bulb leaves are still green.


For a flowering lawn, use early, low-growing bulbs such as crocuses, mini-daffodil cultivars such as 'Jack Snipe', 'Tête à Tête' or 'Quail', snowdrops, glory-of-the-snow, scillas and windflowers.
These bulbs create a carpet of color and will tolerate cutting back by the time the grass needs mowing.
Naturalize larger, later-blooming daffodils in areas where mowing can be put off for six weeks after they bloom, for example, along a country lane or shrub border.
A sprinkling of small early-flowering bulbs, such as windflower, crocus, scilla, snowdrop, glory-of-the snow or grape hyacinth, looks wonderful under deciduous shrubs and trees such as ash, birch, cherry, Japanese cherry, oak, fruit trees and profusely flowering crabapples.
Before leafing out, these deciduous trees and shrubs allow for plenty of sunlight early in the season when the bulbs need it.

Bulbs that multiply

The flower bulbs that spread well on their own tend to be the smaller ones.
They include windflowers (Anemone blanda), crocus, guinea-hen flower (Fritillaria meleagris), winter aconite (Eranthis), snowdrop, glory-of-the snow (Chionodoxa).
Also lovely are grape hyacinth (Muscari), daffodils and Siberian squills (Scilla siberica).
Many hybrid tulips, however, can't be counted on to spread: they look spectacular in the first year, but in the following years, their flowers often get smaller and sparser, or the plants disappear altogether, at which point, it's advisable to replace them.
For naturalizing, choose the smaller species tulips, which grow only 6 to 12 inches tall. Try the starry flowered white and gold 'Tarda', the cream and yellow turkestanica varieties, or the lovely canary yellow Tulipa batalinii 'Bright Gem'. They look wonderful at the edge of flower beds, in rockeries and in small gardens.

Designing a country garden

Attractive ways with natural materials:
Use local stone and wood. You might be able to reuse old wood or stone in your project. Natural stone is a perfect choice for patios, paths and walls.
Use what's on site if possible. If you've removed trees to build a house, the wood can make split rail fencing or a rustic arbor.
Incorporate found rocks or collect from surrounding properties. (Do this with permission only: sometimes farmers will often let you have rocks inexpensively or for free.) Rocks can line beds, outline paths or be used for retaining walls.
Use fencing to divide spaces into outdoor rooms. Open fences, such as wire, split rail or picket styles are appealing. (Board fences are too expensive and too closed in and suburban looking.)
If you need to keep wildlife out, use wire fencing set on round cedar posts. (To keep out deer, fences need to be at least 8 feet (2.5 meters) tall. Use vines to soften fences, e.g. hops, climbing roses, honeysuckle, grapes or clematis.

Designing a country garden - guidelines

Proportion and scale: Design scale is always bigger in the country. Plant trees and shrubs in groups or lines. Avoid making landscape features such as patios, pergolas or decks too small.
Don't forget shelter from the elements: If you need to create a shelterbelt or windbreak with trees, don't crowd them at the house. Windbreaks provide best protection when planted to the north and west about 20 to 30 yards (20 to 30 metres) from buildings.
Be creative with your space: If you have lots of privacy, the "backyard" doesn't have to be the outdoor living area if the front is more congenial because it's sunnier or better protected from prevailing winds.
A patio on the east side, for example, might be an inviting spot for morning coffee, while a west facing courtyard allows you to enjoy evening entertaining and catch the sunset. If you can manage it, why not include both?
Create intimacy close to the house: Wide-open spaces are all well and good, but you want areas near the house to be inviting.
A courtyard, deck or patio, and pergola-covered spaces can all be used for outdoor living.
To soften and enclose these built areas, plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Avoid putting hard material (say a stone patio) up against another hard material (the house wall); try to have a planted bed in between.
Blend your landscape with natural surroundings: Beds, plantings and structures close to house can have a more cultivated or formal feeling, but as you get further from the house, allow the landscape to be looser and more naturalized.
Research which plants are native to your region, and plant as many native trees and perennials as you can. A wild flower meadow is ideal for an open, sunny spot.

Early spring garden jobs: In the flower garden

Don't be in a rush to remove winter mulch or to cut back evergreen plants such as lavender until temperatures are reliably warm.
Freeze and thaw cycles over the winter may given some of your plants the heave-ho. Replant any perennials that the frost has heaved out of the ground as soon as you can.
Cut back the previous season's dead plant material. Clean up old perennial foliage from last season (trimmings can go into the compost). Cut back ornamental grasses. (More details on this job and care of grasses.)
Remove winter protection of mounded earth from roses. Prune rose bushes before they start to leaf out. (More information on rose care.)
Resist the urge to start digging in your flower beds too early. You can damage the soil's structure. If you pick up a handful of soil, it should fall apart, not stick together like glue. When it's dry enough, you can start to dig beds and add compost or manure in preparation for planting. (How to get your soil ready for planting.)
Getting on top of the weeding now means a lot less work later. Weeds start growing vigorously early, so when you spot them, go to it because they are easier to pull out while their roots are still shallow in early spring.
Maintain edges. Grass growth is vigorous in the early spring garden, so edge your flower beds with a sharp trench between them and the grass to keep it in bounds. Repeat this job a couple of times through the season or installing permanent edging goes a long way towards having a lower maintenance flower garden.

Early spring garden guide: Around the yard

Start winter cleanup of the lawn when the grass is no longer sopping wet and planting beds stop being a sea of mud. Rake your lawn to get rid of dead growth, stray leaves, twigs and winter debris and let light and air to the soil level, encouraging the grass to grow.
Re-seed bare or damaged patches of lawn. Scratch up the soil with a rake first. Mix a shovel of soil with a couple of scoops of grass seed and spread in the patch you're fixing. Rake level and keep well-watered until seeds germinate and the new grass establishes.
Remove tree guards or burlap winter protection from any young trees or shrubs. Try not to leave tree guards in place over the summer. They keep rabbits and mice from nibbling on tender bark over the winter, but trees don't need them in summer. They don't allow enough air movement around the base of the trunk and that can promote rot of the bark.
Transplant any existing shrubs you want to move before they begin to leaf out.
Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees, magnolias, crabapples and shrubs such as euonymus to control scale insects and other overwintering pests. Use this organic pest control method when the buds are swelling but the leaves haven't opened yet. Apply when temperatures are between 40 and 70 degrees F (4-21 degrees C).
Get your lawn mower checked and blades sharpened if you didn't get the job done in late winter. Sharp blades cut better and leave your lawn grass healthier.

Garden calendar

The best way to use the seasonal lists below is to consult and print them at the beginning of each season as a reminder of the jobs you should ideally do at that time of year.
With some garden tasks, timing is vital: transplanting and pruning. Leaving either of those tasks too late can create problems. If you prune a lilac too late in the season, for instance, you will cut off the buds that produce next year's flowers.
Likewise, you don't want to move shrubs or divide perennials in the heat of midsummer because the stress of the heat, dryness and the loss of roots will set the plants back too much.
Garden calendar season by season
Early spring - Cleaning-up after the winter
Mid-spring - What to do in the garden as everything starts to grow
Early summer - Jobs to do while your garden is still growing vigorously
Mid-summer - Gardening during high summer
Early fall - What to do as the season begins to wind down
Late fall - How to get your yard and garden ready for winter
Fall tree and shrub care - Important tips to help your garden trees and shrubs weather the winter

Daylilies - versatile and easy garden perennials

Daylilies are colorful, easy to grow and will shine in many flower garden conditions. In Greek Hemerocallis, their botanical name, means "beauty for a day" because each individual flower lasts only a day, hence daylily.
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So why grow a plant with flowers that last only a day?
Well, for one thing, an established daylily grows many scapes (flower stems) that produce a profusion of buds that keep the plants in bloom for weeks.
There has been a revolution in daylily breeding over the past few years, resulting in new colors and forms.
The plants are stronger with lots more flowers over a longer period of bloom. There are more than 50,000 registered cultivars.
Gardeners love them for their rainbow of colors (they flower in every shade except blue) and many shapes and sizes.
They make versatile garden plants too: you can have daylilies in bloom from late spring until autumn. A well-established clump produces many buds and new flowers daily for a month or more.
The plants are clump forming, herbaceous perennials with fibrous or somewhat tuberous roots. Grow them in well-drained soil, amended with manure or compost.
For best performance give them full sun, at least six hours of sun a day. If you plant them in too much shade, you'll get more leafy growth with fewer flowers.

Perennial geraniums – planting and care

Many perennial geraniums will grow in zones 4 to 8, and do well in full sun to part shade. When planting, give them enough room for the foliage to spread a distance at least equal to the mature height.
There are no special soil requirements, but drainage must be good. Moist, well-drained soil is ideal, but they will tolerate some drought. Easy to maintain, geraniums are rarely bothered by pest or diseases.
Depending on species and cultivar, plant sizes vary from a few inches to 3 feet tall and come in all shapes – mounds, mats, spreading masses and bushy clumps. Some, like 'Ann Folkard' will even climb and scramble within shrubs or large perennials.

Easy-care plants for your garden

There are plenty of great, easy-care perennials that can be star performers in your garden.
Larry Hodgson, a prolific gardener and author of the best-selling Perennials for Every Purpose has put together a good list of qualities easy-care perennials should have:
Longevity (90 percent alive and thriving five years after planting)
Resistance to disease and insects, so you don't have spray them
Don't need to be divided more often than every four or five years
Tolerance of a wide range of growing conditions
Cold hardy – no winter protection needed
Good tolerance of summer heat
Long blooming period, or foliage that's attractive all season
Won't take over your garden
Don't need to be staked.
That's a lot to ask of a plant. "In fact, it's surprising, says Larry, "how few perennials meet all the easy-care characteristics. Phlox, for example, meets almost all of them except for disease and insect resistance: keeping them mildew-free can be a summer-long nightmare."
He points out that some easy-care perennials like peonies need staking. Many otherwise ideal plants are either invasive – goutweed is a prime example – or tend to disappear after several years – such as lupines and shasta daisies

Flowering:June - July
Height:Up to 8' (2.5 m)

Escallonia is a native of South America. The leaves are deep, glossy green and the variety we have in the garden is evergreen.
The flowers are tubular with five rounded lobes. They come in a variety of shades of pink and red.
We have found that this shrub thrives in the garden although in more northerly locations it should be planted in a sheltered spot. It is a good hedging plant as it is fast-growing, evergreen and grows well in any well-drained soil.

Cherry Laurel

Height:Up to 20' (6 m)
The Cherry Laurel is an evergreen shrub with shiny and leathery green leaves.

It flowers in April, with white spiky florets growing along stems up to 10 cms long. These are followed by small black fruits.
This is a very useful shrub for hedging and screening since it is dense and fast-growing.
Cherry Laurel Water is made from crushed leaves and is used for medicinal purposes.

Callistemon - Crimson Bottlebrush

Height:Up to 6' (up to 2 m)

Callistemon is an evergreen shrub that was originally introduced from Australia but some species grow quite successfully in Britain.Callistemon citrinus will tolerate temperatures down to -5 degrees C so should be planted in a sheltered spot if there is a risk of temperatures lower than that. We occasionally experience lower temperatures here and those in our garden have survived. The leaves are long, narrow and leathery. The flowers are made up of brush-like crimson spikes (5 - 10 cms long, which as the name suggests, look just like a "bottle brush". A pretty shrub during the few weeks that it is flowering.


Colour:Mauve / blue
Flowering:July - September
Height:Up to 36" (100 cm)

Lavender is a pretty plant, often grown for its fragrant flowers which are dried for pot-pourris and scented sachets.The flowers are mauve/blue and grow on spikes, 4 - 6 cms long. The leaves are grey/green, long and narrow.Lavender is sometimes used for low hedging but does not last long and needs to be replaced after a few years. It likes a sunny spot but is tolerant of most types of well-drained soil.It is also used to treat ailments such as insomnia, anxiety and depression because it induces calming, sedative effects.If you are planning to pick lavender for drying, make sure to pick the flowers before they are fully open.

Some Thoughts On Planting Roses

Although all kinds of gardening is my passion in life, nothing but nothing gives me greater pleasure than my beautiful rose garden. They are just so stunning, and I do really love the colors and the amazing varieties which are available.
To get the best from your rose garden however there are quite a few important pointers to bear in mind, and I would like to share some of these with you.
When the spring comes and the ground is thawed it is time to start planting your rose garden. Roses have actually been a cherished aphrodisiac since biblical times, and have been around for over 3000 years. Despite this, they still hold a particular mystery and fascination, not to mention the fact that they look and smell fantastic.
One of the most important rules of growing roses is to plant the rose bush in an area that receives around 4 to 6 hours of sunlight every day. It is also advisable not to plant too many trees or other plants around the rose bush, because many of these are likely to either mix with the rose or stifle it's growth. If you are replacing an old rose bush, approximately 1-1/2 cubic feet of old soil should be removed, and fresh soil added to replace it. When positioning your rose in the garden or landscape, make sure that you consider the growth characteristics of the rose in question.
To give you an example, place climbers and ramblers along fences, trellises, or next to arches or pergolas. This location offers them unrestricted growth and greatly increases the potential for some superb looking blooms.
Roses also look really beautiful in island beds mixed in with perennials, and miniature roses make great edging plants in front of the taller varieties. If you plant them singly, shrub roses can make excellent specimen plants, or they can be clustered to make a flowering hedge. You can also use them to camouflage unsightly parts of your garden.
Dig a hole large enough for the root mass, and loosen the bottom of the hole. I suggest that you should also add some bone meal which is a slow acting source of phosphorus. This leads to healthy root growth in the rose plant.
The plant should then be placed in the hole very carefully and the hole refilled with soil, making sure that the roots are properly covered. Water the rose plant well, and let it absorb the water before applying the final covering of soil. When this has been completed, water the plant some more and create a mound of soil about 6 inches high. The dome will keep the stems from drying out until the plant is rooted. Gradually remove the excess soil as the leaves start to open.
Special care should be taken with the planting depth, which varies considerably according to the climate you live in.
If you live in a colder area, plant a bit deeper and consult with other people growing roses in your area. If you are buying potted roses, you should plant them about 1 inch deeper than their potted level. The best time to plant roses varies depending on the winter temperature.
Where temperatures don't drop below -10 degrees F in either fall or spring, planting is satisfactory. If you live in an area where winter temperatures drop below -10 degrees F, spring planting is preferable. Plants should be planted in a dormant condition if purchased bare root, but container grown plants may be planted throughout the growing season.
Spacing of the rose plant is highly influenced by the temperature. In regions where winters are severe, the rose plant does not grow so large as when in mild climates. Taking this into consideration, hybrid tea roses should be spaced 1-1/2 to 3 feet apart, but large vigorous growers such as hybrid perpetuals will need 3 to 5 feet of space, while the climbers need from 8 to 10 feet of space.
If the winter temperature is below 10 degrees F, roses can grow healthily if proper care is taken, so the gardener must be prepared to endure that cold and probably wet experience. In colder areas, roses enjoy their last fertilization of the season by August 15th or thereabouts

Tips on dealing with the most common rose health problems

Black Spots On Leaves
This disease is commonly known as black spot. Black spots appear as circular with fringed edges on the leaves, and they cause them to yellow. The solution is to remove the infected foliage and pick up any fallen leaves around the rose. Artificial sprays can be used to prevent or treat this kind of rose disease.
Stunted Or Malformed Young Canes
Known as powdery mildew, this is a fungal disease that covers leaves stems and buds with wind spread white powder. It makes the leaves curl and turn purple. Spray with Funginex or Benomyl to treat this particular disease which could totally ruin your rose garden.
Blistered Underside Of Leaves
A disease of roses known as rust, it is characterized with orange-red blisters that turn black in fall. In spring it will attack the new sprouts, and this disease can even survive the winter. What you should do is to collect and discard leaves that are infected in fall, and also spraying Benomyl and Funginex every 7-10 days will help.
Malformed Or Stunted Leaves And Flowers
The one most likely cause of this is the presence of spider mites. These are tiny yellow red or green spiders which cling to the underside of the leaves. They will suck the juices from the leaves, but the application of Orthene or Isotox may help in treating this infestation.
Weak And Mottled Leaves Showing Tiny White Webs Underneath
This might be caused by aphids, which are small soft-bodied insects which are usually brown green or red. Often found clustered under leaves and flower buds, they suck plant juices from tender buds. However Malathion or Diazinon spray may help roses to survive these bugs.
Flowers That Do Not Open Or Are Deformed When They Do Open
Thrips could be the reason behind this deformation and unopened flowers, which is characterized with slender brown-yellow bugs with fringed wings thriving in the flower buds. They will also suck the juices from the flower buds, so therefore you should cut and discard all infested flowers. Using Orthene and Malathion will also treat this health problem with your roses.

Care of the Flower Garden

Knowing how to care for your flower garden can make a big difference in the look and over-all health of your plants. Here are some simple hints to make your garden bloom with health.
1. The essentials must always be given major consideration.
Your flower garden must have an adequate supply of water, sunlight, and fertile soil. Any lack of these basic necessities will greatly affect the health of plants. Water the flower garden more frequently during dry spells. When planting bulbs, make sure they go at the correct depth. When planting out shrubs and perennials, make sure that you don't heap soil or mulch up around the stem. If you do, water will drain off instead of sinking in, and the stem could develop rot through overheating.
2. Mix and match perennials with annuals.
Perennial flower bulbs need not to be replanted since they grow and bloom for several years while annuals grow and bloom for only one season. Mixing a few perennials with annuals ensures that you will always have blooms coming on.
3. Deadhead to encourage more blossoms.
Deadheading is simply snipping off the flower head after it wilts. This will make the plant produce more flowers. Just make sure that you don't discard the deadhead on the garden or mildew and other plant disease will attack your plants.
4. Know the good from the bad bugs.
Most garden insects do more good than harm. Butterflies, beetles and bees are known pollinators. They fertilize plants through unintentional transfer of pollen from one plant to another. 80% of flowering plants rely on insects for survival.
Sowbugs and dung beetles together with fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms are necessary to help in the decomposition of dead plant material, thus enriching the soil and making more nutrients available to growing plants.
Other insects like lacewings and dragonflies are natural predators of those insects that do the real damage, like aphids.
An occasional application of liquid fertilizer when plants are flowering will keep them blooming for longer.
Always prune any dead or damaged branches. Fuchsias are particularly prone to snapping when you brush against them. The broken branch can be potted up to give you a new plant, so it won't be wasted.

Daylily planting and care tips

Planting: The best time to plant daylilies is in spring or autumn, but if you buy container-grown plants you can plant them out any time during the growing season. Just avoid periods of drought, unless you are prepared to water your new plants faithfully.
Improve your soil by working in some compost in before planting. Recommended planting distance is 18 to 24 inches apart. Your planting hole should be a little larger than the root mass.
The crown (band of white on the foliage) is the indicator for depth as this should be just below the surface. Set the plant so that the crown is no deeper than inch below the surface of the soil. Firm the soil after planting, using your hands (pressing or stomping with your feet can cause root damage).
Watering: Water plants thoroughly after planting, and continue to deep soak them at least weekly until established (about six to eight weeks). Although daylilies are drought-tolerant once established, consistent watering while they are budding and flowering will produce better-quality flowers.
Mulching and fertilizing: Mulch your daylily beds with compost in spring. Avoid giving daylilies high nitrogen fertilizers as this promotes more foliage growth at the expense of flowers. Fertilizers with 5-10-15 and 6-12-12 are low in nitrogen and provide good ratios of phosphorous and potash.
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Building the basic nosegay

Here are three basic ways to start a nosegay:

1. Start with a flower head that is already shaped in the basic nosegay form, such ashydrangea or Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.

2. Start with the type of flower you have the most of and form the blossoms into adome.

3. Start with one perfectly splendid flower, which you will keep at the apex of thedome while building the rest of the nosegay around it (as best you can).

Even before attempting any of these methods, because you are building this bouquetin your hand, you will want to have all of the stems—flowers, fillers, fruit, andfoliage—ready. The circle you make by touching thumb with forefinger is your imaginaryvase opening. As you build your nosegay, the stems will be below this circle andthe nosegay will rise above it. All the stems hanging below your thumb and forefingershould be clean—because any foliage left on the stems would be beneath the watersurface when the nosegay is placed in its vase.The nosegay is best built in one hand while being added to by the other. Whicheveris your less nimble or “off” hand becomes the “vase hand.” Its job is to createthe circle and hold the flowers, while your other hand adds elements. With one handholding your burgeoning bouquet, you should never stop in the middle of productionto do a task requiring both hands. Laying down a nosegay midway through is a bigrisk—you may not get the flowers back the way you had them. I always try to be sureeverything is in readiness, so that once I launch into making a nosegay, I can proceeduninterrupted to its completion.If you cook, think of this as making a stir-fry in a wok. There is a lot of cutting andchopping to do beforehand, and you do not put the heat on until all of the ingredientsare arranged around you. This is the most time-consuming part of the process. Onceyou start cooking, a stir-fry is prepared quickly. Nosegays are the same.The cooking analogy ends here. Although most floral instruction books speak ofrecipes for floral design, I take a more improvisational approach. You never knowexactly what your garden will present. If you go to gather flowers believing you musthave three of this and five of that, you may be disappointed. Instead, you may findit more helpful to think of color and/or shape elements rather than specific typesof flowers. For instance, rather than insisting on three stems of pink sweet william(Dianthus barbatus), you must be willing to assess your options in case you find onlyone of good quality. One pink rose, one sweet william, and one pink annual pincushionflower (Scabiosa atropurpurea) will give you three forms in pink, and perhaps amore interesting final result. Be open to making midharvest adjustments.No matter which of the three basic nosegay construction methods you chose, it allgoes together in roughly the same way:
first, big flowers
second, filler flowers and delicate, easily broken flowers
third, foliage collar