Maltese Cross

Maltese Cross (Lychnis chalcedonica) is another one of the cottage garden perennials that came with our property. Every year it sets out the brightest red bunches of flowers out of any plant in the garden. They contrast beautifully with the blue iris they are planted next to and are fairly long-lasting in floral arrangements. They were the perfect “red” for my July 4th themed bouquet this year and I will be using it much more liberally next year, now that I know how well it performs. For more practical uses, the roots contain enough saponins to create a washing liquid …

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Roses are red.

Not always, but the ones I planted this year are. The house I grew up in had lots of rose bushes. We could have cut flowers for most of the year because they didn’t really go dormant or need to be cut down for winter. They would just keep getting bigger and bigger — I remember six-foot hybrid teas with fragrant blooms that put florist roses to shame. My attempts at growing container roses in Finland, on the other hand, have not gone very well so far. I am giving it another try, though. This time, I’ve allocated a sunny, sheltered spot …

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Foxglove success!

One of my favorite flowers, common garden foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), is native to most of temperate Europe and a classic cottage garden plant, so I was rather surprised to not find it already established when we moved in. I set myself to fixing that oversight as soon as I could. It took a few years more than I’d originally planned, but we finally had an awesome show of blooms from them this year! Planted in spring of 2013, from a packet of bargain bin seeds bought at the local supermarket. This is one of the reasons I like to post in-process …

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July Garden Bouquets

I thought the peony and lilac bouquets from last month were fragrant, but this burnet rose and honeysuckle combination from earlier in the month nearly blew our noses off. Felt like walking into a florists’ fridge when we came in the front door 🙂 Pity that the flowering season for these is so short — I will have to be more indulgent with my cutting next year! A cheery entryway combo for Independence Day weekend: white oxeye daisy, blue dutch iris, and red Maltese Cross. Long-lasting, too! Another entryway bouquet of mixed old-fashioned blooms collected during a morning stroll. Purple Loosestrife, yellow …

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Rugosa Rose

The Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa) is another one of those somewhat invasive species that you can’t help but still be fond of. It helps that there are only a couple of these in our yard, which were planted intentionally. They are low maintenance, with lots of glossy foliage and large, bright flowers. You also see these planted along road shoulders a lot because they are very hardy and stand up well to the wear and tear of being around vehicles all day. That sort of low-maintenance robustness makes them great for otherwise neglected areas, but also means that they can …

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Heath Spotted Orchid

A good friend and fellow plant enthusiast took us orchid hunting yesterday in some nearby woods. There are a few species that grow wild in our area and she knew how much I love wildflowers — the notion of seeing an orchid in situ was very exciting! Southern Finland doesn’t have as many as the northern parts of the country, due to human development of the land, but older patches of woods still are host to plenty of interesting plants. Growing up, there aren’t very many naturally-occurring orchids in Southern California because of the arid climate, so the idea of just going out …

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Tufted Vetch

For the past five years, I have been trying to grow sweet peas with only the slightest success. For some reason, they just really hate me. So when I noticed some sweet pea-like growth under one of the containers that I had previously planted with the seeds, I dared to hope that they might have fallen out of the basket and sprouted after being left to its own devices. While that wasn’t the case, that plant turned out to be a cousin that was far more suited to our garden conditions — tufted vetch (Vicia cracca). The flowers are rather …

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Oxeye Daisy

Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is a common wildflower here in Finland, popping up in fields and gardens at random. Like many other wildflowers, Finns will walk on them or whack them down nonchalantly while tidying their gardens without a second thought. When I was gardening back in SoCal, I used to have the most difficult time getting lots of flowers, including these, to grow because of our dry desert climate. Seeing them thriving all on their own is still a treat for me. We have a few clumps of these cheerful daisies mixed in with our perennial borders, and they are most …

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Juhannusruusu, the Finnish midsummer rose

Our midsummer roses are finally opening! A little late this year, but it’s been a very long and cool spring. That same spring gave our large plant plenty of time to grow buds and it is currently giving us a showstopping display now that the weather is warming. There are blooms dripping off that bush like a floral waterfall! The beautiful scent wafts in through the kitchen windows on every breeze — if there weren’t so many pollinating insects buzzing around it, I’d just set up a chair next to it and wallow in that perfume. These are Rosa pimpinellifolia ‘Plena’, …

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7 Days of Blue/Purple Flowers

I just finished up a 7 day photography challenge over on Facebook — the husband tagged me to do 7 nature pictures and I ended up narrowing it down further for myself by deciding to do only flowers in the blue-purple spectrum that arrived on our property without my aid. I had so much fun finding and identifying them all that I might just extend this indefinitely! It gives me the kick in the butt I need to get outside and get to know all those forgotten corners as well, while the weather is nice. #1 – Spreading Bellflower (Campanula …

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