Plant Now: Astrantias


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Astrantia major is a clump-forming perennial with pincushion-type flowers in summer. The flowers may be pink, white, or greeny-white, with stems reaching 60cm high. They make excellent cut flowers, lasting for some time in the vase.

Astrantias prefer areas where the nights are cool, so they may not grow so well in warmer spots. You don’t usually find seeds either, because they are difficult to start. Buy plants from your local garden centre or online nurseries and plant in a partially shaded spot. Soil should be reasonably moist (not wet) with plenty of humus. Dig in a good helping of compost before planting.

Flowering will be better in its second year.

Top image from Lucy Says I Do

Plant Now: Dianthus


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If you like your dianthus, now’s a good time to plant one. Head to your local garden centre, because there are a couple of new kids on the block.

Pictured above (middle image) is Dianthus ‘Romance’, with its pretty salmon-coloured blooms that are slightly darker in the centre. The double flowers have a gorgeous spicy scent, something akin to the perfume Opium – one of my favourites!

Or you could try Dianthus ‘Bright Eyes’ (bottom image), which has white blooms and a burgundy centre – and an equally delicious scent.

The top image, from Peony White, shows just how gorgeous dianthus are in bouquets.

Read more about growing dianthus here.

Bulbs in bloom


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Spring blooms. How lovely. Not much more to say, really. They’re divine.

Image via Tumblr

Plant Now: Hyacinth bean


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Hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) produces bright lavender sweet-pea like flowers from midsummer followed by waxy, burgundy-red pods. The pods are great for picking, lasting some time in the vase.

This plant is an annual vine; grow as you would for sweet peas, in full sun with ample moisture. Seeds are available from Kings Seeds.

In the top image, you can see both the flowers and the pods, in amongst dahlias.

Images via En en jardin

Plant Now: Hellebores


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Hellebores are in flower now so it’s a great time to pick out a variety you like. These are hardy perennials, able to subsist through cool, frost-laden winters and harsh environments. The flowers appear between July and October in the southern hemisphere, and if you choose your plants carefully, you can have a whole carnival of colours. I like the deep purples, though the white ones are just as gorgeous. Just look at the close-up image, above.

Some hellebores have plain green leaves, some have blue-tinged ones, some have speckled or blotchy leaves. These make for a handsome planting in the garden too. The deeply divided leaves of Helleborus foetidus look spectacular mass-planted.

Plant your hellebores in partial shade in deep, fertile soil that has had plenty of organic matter dug in. Soil must be free-draining. Do not overwater them. Overly dry hellebores are likely to survive, overwatered ones will not.

Plants are available from garden centres.

Top photo (bouquet) is from Once Wed.

Weddings


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Getting married, or know someone who is? In the wedding business? Then follow me on Facebook.

I’ve started a new Facebook page: Sweet Living Magazine Weddings. I’m putting together a new online weddings magazine (in flipbook magazine style), which will be out late August. Please click through and ‘like’ me. :)

I’ll be adding lots of images regularly, plus offering giveaways. Plus, of course, there’s the magazine, out soon.

Plant Now: Hollyhocks


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Hollyhock (Althaea) seedlings can be planted now for a late spring to summer showing. At least, that’s for annuals. Perennial hollyhocks may not flower until the following year. Head to your local garden centre and pick out some potted seedlings. If you wait until summer, when they are fully grown, you’ll be paying a fortune. I guess someone’s got to make a living.

Position your seedlings 45cm apart in full sun in well-drained soil. They need a decent amount of space for air circulation as rust is a common disease among hollyhocks.

Top image via BHG

Bottom image by Connie

Come hear me talk about herbs


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Do you want to learn how to make your own herbal face creams and lotions, or perfumes? Do you want to make your own simple herbal remedies for health problems? Do you want recipes for using stevia, the sugar herb (use it in place of sugar)? Want to make your own natural cleaners?

Come listen to me speak! 

Learn how to grow herbs year round for culinarymedicinal and cosmetic purposes. Whether you have a large garden or a tiny potted one, find out how simple it is to grow herbs year round.

All attendants receive a FREE handout with food recipes, recipes for cleaning solutions, DIY perfumes, and herbal creams and lotions.

Click here for more information and to book your space

Herbs in bouquets


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Don’t you love herbs in bouquets? Aside from the pretty flowers and textured foliage, the scent they emit is scrumdiddlyumptious (now there’s a grand word). The wedding bouquet above features rosemary and sage leaves (yummy fragrance), hypericum berries (from the St John’s wort plant) and a white lily of sorts. I can imagine prancing down the aisle with this, leaving a delicious scent in my wake.

Then there’s lavender. What can you say about lavender? It’s divine. Plant it in the garden, pick it for the vase and use it in cooking. Try lavender scones. Then serve a fresh pot of mint tea to go with them.

More on how to grow lavender

 

Plant Now: Sweet mignonette


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Sweet or common mignonette (Reseda odorata) is an old-fashioned annual that’s ideal for fresh or dried flower arrangements. It has an intensely spicy scent – just delicious – with greenish-white flowers throughout summer and autumn.

Plants like a moist, rich soil and some afternoon shade in hot spots. Sow seeds in trays for transplanting later. In cooler areas, wait until late winter for sowing. Seeds are available from GardenPost.

The mignonette and carnations print is from the Boston Public Library.