I started out intending to just put an Instagram post up with a list of what we are planning to grow this year, and where we source seeds, tubers, rose plants, ect. But then I realized it would be a long list and it might be better to write a blog post!
We've been into gardening for years, but owning our own place has really changed the game for us as there have been many things over the years we've avoided investing in (roses for example) since we were leasing our home/farm. Even though we weren't very organized last spring we were so excited to get our hands in the soil and were inspired to try many new things. It was our first try at growing dahlias, and our first serious investment in roses, and I absolutely fell in love with both! This year we will be seriously expanding our flower gardening especially-- though I expect we will have a fairly large vegetable garden as well.
Even though we are not experts by any means, I do get a lot of questions on social media about our gardens and I know that so many people are getting into gardening for the first time this year... so for those of you who may find it helpful or interesting, I'm going to give a run down of what we grew last year, what we're adding this year, and where we source each item. Here goes!
Last year we grew dahlias for the first time and apart from needing copious amounts of water they were SO easy to grow and were major showstoppers in the garden and in arrangements in the house. We will never not grow dahlias again. Dahlias are generally grown from tubers, and we bought a few different types of tubers from the garden center at a local home improvement store (probably Home Depot) and then I bought some trendier varieties online from Longfield Gardens, which I highly recommend for great prices and gorgeous varieties. I started the tubers in pots well before our last frost date, and simply moved the pots into our basement if there was risk of frost. I was getting blooms well before many of the gardeners that I follow on Instagram with this method. I planted them in the ground once all danger of frost had passed. The varieties we grew last year are as follows:
Cafe Au Lait - I highly recommend. Extremely prolific, gorgeous blooms.
Fairway Spur - Very impressive, enormous and beautiful flowers though not nearly as many as some other varieties.
HS Date - A delightful smaller dahlia that bloomed constantly.
Arabian Night - A super dark red dahlia, almost black sometimes. Tons of blooms.
Orange Impact - Not a fan. Very few blooms, not the prettiest flower. I didn't bother saving tubers from this one.
My Love - Not a fan of this one either. Lots of white flowers, but I don't care for the shape and the insects munched on them constantly.
Kelsey Annie Joy - I think I received the wrong tuber variety and it wasn't really a Kelsie Annie Joy. It was the color of neon yellow highlighter and I despised it.
Dahlia tubers cannot survive being frozen, so if you live where the ground freezes you have to dig tubers and store them over the winter if you want to have them the following year. I decided to take a risk on some of my less favored varieties because it's a lot of work digging, dividing and storing them... but I did pull my Cafe Au Lait, Fairway Spur and HS Date tubers. Soon I'll take them out of storage and hopefully they will start sprouting. This year I will be adding several new varieties:
Creme de Cognac
Wow, that was more than I remembered lol. But there they are, all listed on my order confirmations ;) I will warn you that if you get into dahlias you will fall into a deep hole and will be unable to get out, and more and more dahlia tubers will show up in little boxes at your house despite your best efforts to resist them. This year I purchased my new varieties from Halden Garden. They haven't arrived yet so I can't tell you whether I recommend them or not, but I will keep you updated. Halden also has seeds in really pretty packages. So tempting!
We brought a few rose shrubs with us when we moved here, but we have no idea what varieties they are except one is a Knock-Out Rose. I'm not a huge fan of the roses that are available at most garden centers (like Knock-Outs), but when I was introduced to the world of English Garden roses, I fell absolutely in love. There are SO many magical shapes and sizes and colors to choose from. Also, they are an investment for sure (though not outrageous at all), but a rose plant can last almost indefinitely and can bloom almost constantly from spring to fall every single year with proper care, and they are not complicated to care for.
I am a huge fan of David Austin roses and originally thought I was going to be a bit of a David Austin purist (meaning that I only wanted to grow David Austin varieties), but the world of roses is enormous and you can get lost in it (kind of like the world of dahlias). There are so many amazingly gorgeous rose varieties and they aren't all David Austin varieties, though many of them are. Last year we planted several different David Austin roses:
Now, we didn't get a lot of blooms last year because the roses were trying to get established and we were learning (meaning we made some mistakes). But we got a sizeable amount of blooms from the Lady of Shalott (my favorite so far), the Alnwick and The Mill on the Floss. Some of the plants we didn't get any blooms from and I am so SO excited to see what they do this year because they should explode with buds this spring.
So far this year I've ordered a Jude the Obscure , Carding Mill, Jubilee Celebration (all stunning David Austin varieties) and a Koko Loko (not a David Austin but extremely popular right now for its unusual smoky rose color) from Heirloom Roses. I also snagged a rare (in the USA) Honey Dijon bare root rose plant from Menagerie Flower, which I am SO excited about! The new roses will arrive this spring sometime in mid April.
We bought a lot of perennial plants last year from local businesses and Lowes and I'm really curious to see what comes back this spring because I have this feeling that we lost most of the plants we put in-- but it was a learning experience and motivated me to try my hand at starting way more of our plants from seed this year! I'll be documenting our hopeful success with that process.
We usually always grow some wildflowers from seed, like zinnias, cosmos, nasturtium and sunflowers. Last year we had quite a bit of success growing some new favorites from seed. Here's a small list of what we successfully grew from seed last year:
Blue Forget Me Not
Brown Eyed Susan Vine
And this is just flowers we grew from seed-- we grew a sizeable vegetable garden last year too, but the cows got out and destroyed it before we got much of a harvest. That's unfortunately part of having livestock.
This year we will plant another large vegetable garden up on the farm but I also plan to incorporate a lot more veggies into my flower beds down at the house, as well as herbs. For instance, in sunny areas around Flock Cottage I plan to put in winter squash and decorative pumpkins, artichoke, oregano, thyme, onions, cabbages and more all interspersed in the flowers. I think it'll be lovely! It will also provide some fresh green feed for the chickens and ducks, which they cannot forage for because they are in an enclosed run. I will throw cuttings and any veggies to them that we will not use ourselves. Here's a list of plants I intend to grow from seed this year (I won't relist what we grew last year but we'll definitely be doing all of those again):
Pink Forget Me Not
Herbs of all sorts
Pumpkins and Squash of all sorts
Hollyhocks of various sorts
... and we will probably add more to this list.
Like I said, we had limited success with buying already started plants last year, but they are sort of irresistible so I'm sure we will try more this year. I think it's worth noting that I bought six plants online from a company called Bluestone Perennials, and I still have six healthy plants. I will definitely be purchasing from them again. They are a little bit expensive but I was extremely happy with their plants. I plan to get oriental poppies from them, verbascum, and a few other things. We also had great success with some little Purple Coneflower starts we got from the Bonnies display at Lowes. There were other plants that survived but nothing notable or exciting enough to list here, except maybe the Regal Elegance Geranium that I grew in a pot. It was gorgeous and I definitely plan to try to find more of them this year!
Well, I think that is enough for one blog post. I cannot wait to document our progress this year as we put our plans into action. What are you planning to grow this year? If you have any questions about this post, drop a comment and ask away :)