Everything’s Coming Up Dahlias!

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Summer is in full swing here in the garden, dear readers! Since this is the first year living in the schoolhouse it has been exciting to see what new things pop up in the garden and, so far this summer has been no disappointment. Apart from the seedlings that Ms. Jeannie has planted she has been pleasantly surprised to see beds full of iris, roses, tulips and lilies, all in an array of different colors and varieties. The latest to present her pretty face…

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the dahlia – of a most elegant height (almost 5’feet!) and a most robust disposition.  Dahlias have been around since the 1600’s thanks to their “official” discovery in Mexico by these guys…

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the Spanish Conquistadors, but it was the Aztec Indians who actually first utilized the flowers as a water source integrated within their hunting communities. Back then, the Aztecs knew the Tree Dahlia – a massive 20′ foot tall tree full of flowers (how pretty!)…

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but as the flower slowly became introduced into Europe and then England over the next century, smaller more-plant like types were cultivated and world-wide familiarity bloomed alongside a diverse amount of varieties.

Lady Elizabeth Webster Holland is credited with introducing the dahlia to England in the  early 1800's thus securing its survival in eastern Europe
Lady Elizabeth Webster Holland is credited with introducing the dahlia to England in the early 1800’s thus securing its survival in eastern Europe

In the 1950’s, the dahlia became a popular home garden flower and made its way center-stage to flower shows where it gained new found attention and supporters in the form of dahlia clubs all across the United States.  Marian Walker, a novelist and avid gardener herself devoted an entire book to them in 1953, which Ms. Jeannie just listed in her shop

Dahlias For Every Garden by Marian C. Walker - $8.00
Dahlias For Every Garden by Marian C. Walker – $8.00

Full of mid-century gardening advice on how to care, cultivate and enjoy these flashy flowers as well as the story of their natural history and evolution, it also contains information on how to professionally show them, dissecting what makes a prize-winner vs. what just makes a pretty garden. A special photograph section in both color and black and white emphasis the dramatic differences between the 20 individual types within the species …

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Thanks to avid enthusiasts there are now over 50,000 registered individual dahlia varieties throughout the world today. Imagine that, dear readers! It’s no wonder though really, with their cone shaped petals, flashy colors, and multi-stemmed flowers they produce some of the more dramatic statements in the garden landscape. And with their ability to reflect light in all sorts of dramatic ways, they make for especially stunning bouquets. Even after they are passed their prime, and have technically expired, some varieties like this all-white version from Ms. Jeannie’s garden, still looks pretty as it dries to a crinkly brown…

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In a nod to bringing the outdoors in and to incorporating these pretty flowers into living spaces year-round, Ms. Jeannie is now offering dahlia flower wreaths made out of vintage book papers in her shop

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Handmade Vintage Paper Wreath – $38.00

Just like the real flowers, these paper versions take on different personalities depending on the changing light within a room from morning to night…

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Above are photographs of the same wreath taken at different times throughout the day! Because this wreath itself is made out of three different shades of aged paper from three different books – all romance themed fiction novels that date to the 1930’s and 1940’s – it takes on an ombre style color pattern graduating from light to dark. And at 23″ inches in diameter, it makes for an eye-catching wall display that’s ever-changing throughout the day.

Carrying themes of love, adventure, mystery and drama within each book page, these nature-inspired beauties not only make for dramatic wall decor, but also for fun gifts or decorations for weddings, showers and parties. Since no two are alike they appeal to Ms. Jeannie’s sense of decorating outside of the ordinary!

photo via pinterest
photo via pinterest

Whether you are planting them in your garden, collecting them in your bookshelf or hanging them on your wall, dahlias (in all shapes, sizes and forms!) can add a bit of pretty personality to your life.

Cheers to their strength, adaptability and individuality!

Stayed tuned to Ms. Jeannie’s shop for new dahlia wreath additions each week!

 

 

 

Lady Nature and the Summer Magic

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Dear readers! This morning Ms. Jeannie went grocery shopping in her backyard for the very first time! In just two months, with the help of her greenhouse and a certain sensational lady, Ms. Jeannie’s garden project went from this…

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to this…

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Isn’t lady nature just marvelous?! With time being so scarce for Ms. Jeannie these past few months, lady nature  truly proved to be the greatest of friends. “Don’t worry about your garden Ms. Jeannie – I’ll take care of it!”

And take care, she did! Boy that lady  – there’s no stopping her abilities!

Today, the garden was offering a sale on cucumbers…

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Ms. Jeannie picked six today, and as you can see there are what seems like a million in all stages still growing growing, growing. Ms. Jeannie could actually hear the cucumber plant say thank you as she plucked the ripe ones.  Baby cucumbers moved right into the empty spots. Productive little creatures:)

The cantaloupe melons are in a race with the cucumbers. Who can outgrow their metal frames first?

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Everyone is hedging their bets in the garden. The beets are betting on the melons.

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The okra is betting on the cucumbers.

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And the peas…

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well, they are just betting on themselves and their ability to outwit the mammoth sunflowers. They’ve already outgrown their trellis and moved on to the sunflower stalks – so really at this point – the sky is the limit for them! Take that, cucumber melon competition!

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Do you remember Ms. Jeannie’s grand plan for her re-purposed gift from the ground? A home for zinnias, ha!  Four weeks into that growing project … they looked like gawky teenagers in ill-fitting clothing…

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They immediately were sent to summer camp in the herb garden where they could spread out and be as wild and wooly as they wanted…

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This suits them just fine!

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Speaking of herbs, Ms. Jeannie just recently gave her chives a major haircut for a simple new recipe, which solved two problems at once – what to make for dinner and how to keep these fast growing onions from taking over! She’ll share that culinary feat in her next post – so stay tuned.

In the meantime, Boyo sends his best from the porch…

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As you can see he is working just as hard as the ladies:)

A Birthday Bouquet!

Oh my dears, Ms. Jeannie was giddy all weekend in anticipation of this very blog post! She is happy to announce that on Saturday morning, her birthday, she was able to walk out into her garden and clip her very own birthday bouquet. Just as she had hoped for all those cool, dreary months ago, when she was  planting seeds in the soil and dreaming of a lush summer garden.

The first bouquet of the season! Moulin Rouge and Drop Dead Red varieties.

Since Saturday, flowers have been opening up, by what seems like, the minute. Every time Ms. Jeannie steps out she sees something new in bloom! If you recall Ms. Jeannie planted a bevy of sunflowers, in a range of colors. Here’s what blooming today…

A multitude of sunflowers! Clockwise (left to right): Autumn Beauty, Girasol and Del Sol Hybrid.
Moulin Rouge Sunflower – not quite sure what those whitish splatters are!
Autumn Beauty Sunflower
Del Sol Sunflowers. They all contain clusters of blooms! The more the merrier Ms. Jeannie says!

These particular Gold Honey Bear sunflowers (below) definitely remind Ms. Jeannie of the Vincent Van Gogh paintings she blogged about in March…

Goldy Honey Bear Sunflower

And what’s fun about the Moulin Rouge variety…

Moulin Rouge Sunflower

is that some of the backsides of them are just as interesting as the front! Some contain stripes of golden yellow on the backsides…

Colorful reverse!

while others are as black in color as a flower can possibly be. Darker then espresso, even. Ms. Jeannie took these photographs so you could see the color difference yourself…

From black to red – sunflowers are quite diverse!

And a close up of the black one. It’s very striking!

Drop Dead Red Variety

These two on the vine are forming a lover’s knot!

Sunflower love!
Sunflowers are peeking out everywhere!
And they wave happy in the wind!

Ms. Jeannie even has a fellow appreciator of the garden, who as recently taken up residence above the Mexican Sunflowers (those flower pictures coming soon).

Mockingbird in the garden.

Here, he is perched on a bird feeder up above the vegetable garden. Ms. Jeannie saw him pull a fat tomato horn worm off her tomato plant the other day. Thank you Mr. Mockingbird:)

It’s so rewarding to be a grower;)

Fruits & Flowers – Garden Update: Day 68

Here it is, my dears, just over 2 months from original plant date and we some fruit from all of our labor!

The jalapenos are almost ready for picking!

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The cherry tomatoes were a surprise!  The seedlings were given to Ms. Jeannie as a gift by a farmer at the farmers market, who had under-estimated his seedling growing abilities.   Ms. Jeannie, at the time, didn’t think to ask him what kinds of tomato plants they were, assuming, most likely,  they were some sort of traditional red summer tomato. But to her surprise, one plant turned out to be yellow cherry tomatoes! Always such a pretty choice in summer dishes! The other plant is growing much bigger tomatoes so we’ll just have to wait and see what those develop into! Since she was so forunate with the yellows – Ms. Jeannie is secretly hoping the others are a purple heirloom variety!

Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

Bell peppers are growing bigger every day!  Ms. Jeannie is holding out for red ones so she has to fight the urge to pick them early!

Bell Peppers

And a red sunflower nestled between stalks and leaves just opened up yesterday. He’s in a tricky little spot so it’s hard to get a good picture. Perhaps he’s a little shy!

Red Sunflower

Coming soon: English peas, Mexican sunflowers, snow peas, sweet potatoes, mystery tomatoes and many many many more sunflowers:)

The Start of the Sunflowers

Today Ms. Jeannie started planting her summer garden.

Bed of sunflower seeds all planted!

It’s been a very mild winter this year in the South, so she could have started much earlier, but every once in a while, a folklorish sounding thing called blackberry winter  hits our region, which sort of fools you into thinking that spring has sprung. But then a wicked Mr. Frost comes calling, and knocks out all the early garden preparations.   Usually this happens around Eastertime, if it occurs at all, but this year Ms. Jeannie is throwing caution to the wind and planting early. Hopefully it will all work out.

Ms. Jeannie likes to order seeds from her favorite company, Botantical Interests.  They have a lot of heirloom varieties,  organic mixtures and seeds that always sprout. Plus they have marvelous looking seed packets that contain all sorts of fun growing information. They contain drawings of what the seedlings should look like too, which is helpful if you have a weed prone garden or aren’t quite sure what is what!

Pretty packaging!
…and informative too!

This year Ms. Jeannie is keeping things simple by just planting sunflowers and herbs. She will leave her vegetable growing to the local farmers and just shop for them at market each week.

Ms. Jeannie always likes to be a little out of the ordinary, so she has ordered 4 different varieties of red sunflowers, two fuzzy yellow sunflowers and one white sunflower.  Ms. Jeannie finds red sunflowers to be most elegant in a bouquet and since many people aren’t familiar with them, she enjoys a bit of the surprise element!

Martha Stewart put together this beautiful bouquet.

Urn style planters serve as great vases for sunflowers. Their tall yet curvaceous lines balance the bold roundness of the sunflower face. Urns are usually heavier too, which is good, because some mammoth varieties can reach heights up to 9′ feet tall!

The botanical name for sunflower is Helianthus, which comes from the Greek word “helios” which means “sun” and “anthos” which means “flower.”  Although native to North America, sunflowers were first discovered by European explorers in South America, but Native American tribes had been growing, cultivating and defining them from the beginning.  Native American tribes used the flower petals for dye, the seeds for food, the oil for ceremonial body painting and the stalks for fiber.

Explorers brought seeds back to their native countries, so that by the late 1500’s sunflowers were a common site throughout Europe.

Sunflower Field – Bordeaux, France. Photo by robsound

By the 18th century though that Europeans began cooking with sunflower oil. If you have never cooked with sunflower oil, it is supposed to contain the highest levels of Vitamin E, of all the cooking oils. It is light in taste and color. and is low in saturated fat. Learn more here.

Sunflowers can even be used as birdfeeders! Thanks again crafty Martha for supplying us with this pretty feeder idea:

To make your own birdfeeder like this one click here.

Because of their warm, cheerful coloring and their dramatic size and shape, sunflowers have been a subject for artistic study for centuries. Probably, the most recognized paintings of sunflowers would be those of Vincent Van Gogh:

While Ms. Jeannie does love all these paintings, she does wish that Van Gogh had painted more red sunflowers! As a gift recently, she did receive the new Vincent Van Gogh biography by Steven Naifeh and Gregory Smith…

Book Cover

…perhaps she will learn more about the inspiration behind all those sunflower portraits! Maybe he’ll even address the red ones! If anyone has already read this book, please let Ms. Jeannie know what you thought of  it. She always enjoys a good book review.

On Etsy, there is a glorious amount of sunflower-related items, but red sunflower items are a little more niche. Ms. Jeannie was happy to come across these items:

1970’s Ceramic pitcher from Vintagality
Duralee Red Sunflower Pillow by PopOColor
Red Sunflower Card from Teroldegoandtomatoes
Large Decorative Clipboard from ConfettiStyleDesigns
The Kernal Kozi from HollyWorks
Glowing Golden Sunflower Pendant from Bella Grethel
Sunflower Bowl from betsybpottery

Ms. Jeannie couldn’t resist these yellow sunflower items either:

Sun King – 11×17 Fine Art Photography from sintwister
Sunflower Tote Bag from jjmillistration
Vintage 1960s Sunflower Tunic Dress from digVintageClothing
Reverse Me Dotty Apron in Sunflowers & Paisley from bdoodles

Ok, garden. Ms. Jeannie can’t wait to see your pretty faces. So start GROWING!

“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows follow behind you.”
~ Maori Proverb