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Did you know that certain flowers are edible?


It’s true.


Last week, I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was “channeling my inner Martha Stewart”, preparing for a future diy blog post.


Here are the ingredients I used…



Distilled water, ice-cube trays and edible flowers such as violas.  

Here is what I ended up with…


Wouldn’t these look great on your Easter table?

It was very easy to do, but there are some tricks to doing it just right.
*Not all flowers are edible and you must be sure to use flowers that have not been treated with chemicals or pesticides.

I wrote about how to make your own floral ice cubes along with a list of edible flowers, in my latest blog post for Birds & Blooms, which you can access here.

In the past, I have shown parts of my garden, but never a comprehensive look.  So, I thought I would share with you a more comprehensive look at my garden.


First, I’d like to show you my newest part of my garden, which is located on the side of my house – just outside of my kitchen window.  


This part of the garden is looking remarkably good considering that it is still winter.  For those of us who are fortunate to live in the Southwest, we didn’t really experience much of a winter this year.
In fact, I recall only 1 week of freezing temps and that happened back in December.




This is the largest of my three vegetable gardens.  It is hard to believe that it didn’t exist 2 years ago.

I had always dreamed of having a nice side garden and because ours is rather large, there were many possibilities.  So, we decided to create an edible garden in this area.
You can read our planting journey, here. 

This year, I planted Swiss chard for the first time and don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner – I love this plant!

Well, I don’t really like it cooked (but I’m weird that way).  I do like to use it in salads along with leaf lettuce.  My kids even eat it!

I think it also looks really pretty too with its brightly-colored stems.

In the corner, is my single artichoke plant.


It was about 6 inches high when I planted it last fall.  Needless to say, it has grown so fast.  I can’t wait to see the artichoke buds (the part you eat) begin to form.

I will harvest some of the artichokes, but also plan to allow some to turn into flowers, which are beautiful and fragrant.

I like the idea of using artichokes as ornamental plants as well as for eating.


In the center of this vegetable garden sits a stump from a eucalyptus tree that we had to cut down to make space for this particular garden.

An old watering can sits onto of the stump and I fill it with cool-season annuals.  This year it is purple violas and alyssum.

In summer, the watering can sits empty, because it is too hot for plants to grow in it.  Roots will literally ‘cook’ in small containers during the summer.  I think it looks just fine without plants for part of the year.


The second crop of radishes of the season are just beginning to come up.  There is still time to plant radishes before it gets too hot.


Behind the vegetable garden are two apple trees.  They are growing so well during their first year.  I will have to wait a couple more years before I get any apples, so I’m trying to be patient.

I planted garlic around the base, in order to help keep borers away.

Not shown – behind the apple trees are blackberry bushes.  I had a great crop of last spring.  I plan on making blackberry jam this year!


Along the garden wall is one of my favorite shrubs called ‘Pink Beauty’ (Eremophila laanii), which is evergreen in my zone 9a garden and has pink flowers in winter and spring.  

It rarely needs pruning as long as it has enough room to grow – mine stands at 9 feet tall.

Next to is Pink Trumpet Vine and Yellow Bells shrubs, which serve two purposes.  The first, is that the cover up an ugly, bare wall.  Second, they help to cool the garden down because the shrubs keep the wall from re-radiating heat that it absorbs in the day.


The buds on my peach tree have not begun to swell yet, but it is just a matter of time.


My other peach tree is covered in blossoms.  Planted just last winter, it produced 19 peaches for me last year.


My herb container sits in front of the vegetable garden and is filled with lovely, purple petunias.  I like to add flowers to my herb pots for an extra splash of color.


I hope you enjoyed the tour of my side garden.

Next time, I will show you the main part of my backyard and maybe a peek at the ‘other’ side yard, which I never show anyone.

What is growing in your garden this February?  
I’d love to hear about it.
Isn’t this flower beautiful?

You may be surprised that a vegetable produced this flower.
This is the flower from a onion plant.

You would expect that the onion plant that produced this flower would be equally impressive, like the one in the picture above.

But sadly, the onion that created the flower in the top photo looked more like this when I pulled it out…


Kind of disappointing, isn’t it?

This was the first time that I tried growing regular onions in the garden.  I have had a lot of success with green onions, but evidently, my white onions need some help.

While there are only about two onions worth eating, I can chop the greens of my ‘reject’ onions and use them in the same way one would use green onions (scallions).  They have a mild, oniony flavor.

Every time that I try some thing new in the garden, I learn something.

I have learned since then that many of my fellow area gardeners, have had similar disappointments when growing bulb onions.  

However, there is one variety that many have told me they have had some good results growing.  It is called ‘Texas Sweet’.

So, next fall, I will be growing ‘Texas Sweet’ onions.


In the meantime, I will keep my remaining onions in the ground and enjoy their beautiful flowers.


**Check back soon for a fabulous giveaway that I will be doing where you can win a great TroyBilt tool that has many uses.  I have been having so much fun with mine.  

*********************

I haven’t mentioned how my daughter, Rachele, has been doing while in basic training for the Navy.

It has been much harder than she expected.  She has had some injuries to deal with and a cold that has been present much of her time in basic training.

She has been homesick, but as her time in basic training has progressed, we sense her toughness and determination to get through.

On the home front, the first few weeks were very hard because we missed her so much.  But, as time passed, we have adjusted to her absence although we miss her terribly.

What has been so hard is the fact that our main way of communicating with her is by letter.  She only gets to send us one letter a week.

Phone calls are sporadic and you never know when they will come.  It has been 3 weeks since we last talked to her on the phone.

I cannot wait for her to graduate from basic training and will be flying out to Chicago soon to see her become a sailor.  We will have one day with her before she flies out to her ‘school’ where she will learn her specialty.  

Please keep her in your prayers as she is going through her last tests that she must pass.

Thank you!


With warming temperatures, many of us begin to think about changing out our cool-season annual flowers for plants that can take the heat of summer.


Last week, I gave a potting demonstration for attendees of a local home tour.  


The pots were then to be raffled off.

I planned on creating two succulent pots and one using a combination of perennials and annual flowers.


My daughter, Rachele, came with me to help carry the bags of soil, pots, plants, etc.

It was also an opportunity to spend time together before she left for the Navy.

There were to be two different potting demonstrations.  I created one succulent pot ahead of time…


This container has pink-flowering Crown of Thorns, tall Lady’s Slipper, Variegated Elephant’s Food and a gray-colored cactus.

I like to create container plantings with a tall plant for vertical interest.  The Crown of Thorns provides striking floral color.  The Elephant’s Food will trail over the edge of the pot as it grows, which adds texture and softens the container’s lines.  

Lastly, the gray-colored cactus (I admit that I don’t know what kind it is), adds great color contrast with its gray/blue color.

Soon, it was time for the first demonstration.  My daughter took photos of me talking.  The lighting is terrible because I was in the shade and behind me was the sun, but you can still see what I was doing.

Looking down at my notes.  Can you tell  I use my hands when I talk?

Planting the orange Calendula.
Adding Purple Verbena and filling the spaces with Celosia.
I just need a bit more Celosia in the front, don’t you think?

For this container, the tall vertical interest comes from Mexican Feather Grass.  The bright color is from the Calendula.  The trailing plant is Purple Verbena and gray Lavender provides the color contrast.

I used Celosia to fill in the empty spaces.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

When planning on what plant combinations will look good in a container, I simply arrange the plants, while they are still in their containers at the nursery.


Now it was time for planting the second succulent pot.

First, adding the Elephant’s Food.

Ever wonder how to plant a cactus without getting pricked?


An old towel, folded into quarters (4 layers thick) works great.  I covered the top of the Golden Barrel Cactus with the towel as I turned it over to plant.  The towel came off easily once I was finished.

Newspaper is also helpful in planting cactus.

Almost done…


Finished!

The Blue Elf Aloe provides the height for this planting combination.  Elephant’s Food will grow to trail over the side.  The Golden Barrel cactus adds color contrast with its round shape and yellow spines.  Ice plant with brightly-colored red flowers adds a needed splash of color.


The pots each went to good homes and raised money for future community projects.

Do you like growing plants in containers?  

Or maybe, you haven’t tried before.

Well, it’s not difficult.  Come back for a visit in a couple of days and I’ll share with you my container guidelines.