Plant Now: Freesias

Bunch of spring flowers
Freesia Gabrielle
I get ridiculously excited when new cut flower varieties are released, like this gorgeous freesia called ‘Gabrielle’, from GardenPost (bottom image). Grown commercially for the cut flower market, its long stems (40cm high) and fragrant white flowers are ideal for picking.

Freesia corms can be planted now for late winter/spring blooms. Plant corms 5cm deep and 8-10cm apart in a well-drained spot in sun or light shade. Blooms typically appear 110-120 days after corms are planted. Stagger planting times for a longer flowering season, but don’t plant out too late – flowering during longer days reduces the number of flowers per raceme as well as the number of lateral flower stems. Optimum soil temperature for flower initiation is 12-15degC.

Plant Now: Anemones

Anemones are my all-time favourite spring bulbs – these and ranunculus which come a very close second. I have a whole lot of the divine Anemone ‘Bordeaux’ (top image) sitting in the fridge at the moment, ready for planting out. (‘Bordeaux’ is pretty much sold out in New Zealand. Though if you’re lucky you may still find a pack at your local garden centre. These came from GardenPost, also sold out.) Anemones can be planted from now until May (late autumn). An earlier planting will produce winter blooms, a later one will give you spring blooms.

To break dormancy and encourage germination and good flower production, place corms in the fridge prior to planting (six weeks for anemones, four weeks for ranunculus). Then soak for a few hours in tepid water before planting out in full sun. Plant corms with the pointy side down.

Anemones are gluttons for food. Feed with a general purpose fertiliser once a month and keep well watered.

Easy table flowers

Table flowers

I really love this look: a glass pedestal dish with a very simple but elegant floral arrangement. It’s really achievable for the novice floral designer too. It’s simply a matter of placing a piece of soaked floral foam on the glass dish and pushing the stems of flowers and foliage into it.

In this arrangement there is Queen Anne’s lace, double feverfew, white roses and ferns. Easy, quick and stunning.

Plant Now: Pasque flower

Pulsatilla and viola odorata
Purple pasque flowersPurple pasque flowersPulsatilla vulgaris
The exquisite pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris) has fairly short stems but they’re ideal for posies and small vases. The stems continue to grow during and after the flowers have finished, and fuzzy-wuzzy seed heads (seen above) form at the top. These can be picked for the vase too, both giving a gorgeous display.

Plants grow in sun or part shade in moist but well-drained, humus-rich soil. Available from Parva Plants and sometimes on Trade Me. A white version is available from Wake Robin Nursery. There are also pink and red varieties available that I’ve sometimes seen for sale on Trade Me.

Plant Now: Forget-me-not


forget-me-not flowersForget-me-not flowers

The alpine or woodland forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris) grows just about anywhere, and for that reason some folks class it as a weed. But I love it, both in the garden and the vase, where its pretty blue flowers last for an age. It grows very well in cooler areas, though it will also grow in warmer spots, in sun or shade. These plants self-sow readily (hence the tendency to call it a weed), though they’re easy to pull out as well.

Sow seeds now for a spring showing. Available from Kings Seeds.

Super duper succulents

succulents2succulent bowls
I adore succulents (we know that already) because these colourful plants are just so versatile. They look great in bouquets and vases and they make very cute table centrepieces. There’s not much work involved with them either. Just plant them in a sunny spot that’s free-draining, and that’s it. Although sometimes snails like to munch on the succulent leaves. Grrr. You might need to resort to putting down snail bait.

The bottom two images come from Stephenie Wong’s Pinterest page and the top one, which includes dahlias, roses, freesias and billy buttons (Craspedia globosa), is from Sugar Plum Invitations.

Simple table decorations

Gold yellow roses
HyacinthPetals for table decorationtea lights for table decoration
Really, all you need to spice up a dinner table is a smattering of petals around a tea light candle, a few flower heads floating in a shallow bowl of water, a single flower in full bloom, or a fine-looking vase with a single coloured rose.

These designs are all incredible easy, yet quite beautifying for the table.

Plant Now: Salpiglossis ‘Royale Chocolate’

Single SalpiglossisSalpiglossisPainted tongue (Salpiglossis sinuata) is an old-time cottage garden favourite, though ‘Royale Chocolate’ is a fairly new treat. Its chocolate-coloured blooms appear from early summer to first frosts on 60cm high bushes. Occasionally rain may mark the petals, but new flowers keep appearing to replace the old.

Each flower has distinctive dark veins, which is where the common name comes from. The folk who name these plants thought the veins looked as though they’d been painted on. The flowers are excellent for cutting, with a vase life of 5-7 days.

Plant in full sun and provide some wind protection. Soil must be free-draining or plants will rot. Dig in plenty of compost before planting. Seed can be sown directly or planted in trays for transplanting later. Remove spent flowers regularly for a long display.

Seeds are available from GardenPost.

Lovin’ those dahlias

I adore dahlias, and so does Studio Choo, who put together these gorgeous bouquets. The top image has dahlias, roses and hydrangeas, among other blooms; the middle one has dahlias and clematis. The bouquet in the bottom image is more about nigella (love-in-a-mist), peonies, passionfruit flowers and clematis foliage. Simply divine.

Plant Now: Salvia farinacea

Salvia farinacea

You’ll find loads of these salvias in the garden centres right now, usually in the potted colour section. It’s a great plant for summer and autumn colour, continuing to flower right up until first frosts. The blue to violet blooms are ideal for picking, the colours deepening as the cooler weather sets in. There are white forms too, which are equally attractive.

These are showy plants for both containers and garden beds. Plant in full sun in moist but well-drained soil. Feed and deadhead regularly for continuous blooms. Plants die down in winter but they’ll come back in spring.