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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The 2015 harvest season begins!

This year’s harvest season started a little late, thanks to the mild spring extending into a cooler-than-normal summer. Along with the regular rainfall, this led to abundant flowers that resulted in what is looking like a bumper crop for many of our fruits. Above, my first strawberry harvest from the first weekend of July. These strawberries are typically ready by mid-June. However, once they started, I was pretty much out in that strawberry field every few days keeping those plants picked clean. Half of them went into the freezer for later use (mostly the ugly ones, which are better for incorporating …

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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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Daphne, the furry weed whacker.

Every summer, the weeds start to overtake the paving stones that form a path down the side of our house between the outer wall and a row of hostas. Here, you see how far gone it has gotten as of last week, with still a couple of months worth of growing season to go. Then it occurred to me that we have a very eco-friendly, low-effort/high-reward solution. Her name is Daphne. Not only do my angoras provide substantial wool harvests, they are also voracious lawnmowers. Over the course of last week, I advanced her down the path, starting from the …

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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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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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“HEY! My horrible stinging plants are ready! COME HERE AND EAT THEM.”

It’s nettle season! I was out picking nettles in the garden the other day and remembered that some friends had expressed interest in them — so I invited them to come over and help themselves to my ample crop rather than forage around town and country for them as they were. Another friend jokingly summed up that whole exchange with this post’s title 🙂 Silly as it sounds, though, stinging nettles are the best sort of vegetable: tasty, nutritious and free! Although it grows in a few other places on our grounds, I make it a point to leave one portion of …

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