Acouple questions (I'm a newbie!)

nicucoll(z6PA)June 23, 2005

Hi all, I've just stopped by acouple days ago...usually i'm on the cottage garden forum...this is a wonderful forum also...i'm addicted to this now..although i'm basically new to gardening..i'm so eager to learn and want to plant everything i see...i have acouple questions if anyone can help me out...thanks and i just love seeing pics of your gardens/flowers...

1)Just wondering where are some good websites/catalogs to order from....around here there isn't a big selection of plants...

2)I have mostly full sun and my front garden daytime shade..what are some good plants to try growing?

3)Do you all use plant food,etc on your plants..(like I said really new to gardening that is probably a silly question though)

4) Any good websites/books that might show some floral arrangements,etc...for some ispiration...thanks a garden bunch!!!

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DapperDahlia(z6 Pa)

I'll go through as many questions as i can ;o)
1) Michigan Bulb (google these because i cant remeber the acuall web pages) has a large selection of plants and they ship at planting time. Swan Island has a large selection of dahlias, those would be good since you said your yard gets full sun. I'm sure you'd be able to find many other places if you went to and knew what you were looking for. Or you could find a place on google just look around.
2)Like i said dahlias, sunflowers, hydrangea, mexican shell flowers, there are MANY options but it may be to late for many of them.
3)My mom and I fertilize our flower/gourd/veggie patches but because my dad is a fertilizer salesman that part isnt very hard for me.
4)There are a lot of pictures of boquets in this forum if you look through all the pages. One lady in particular shows her a lot of her boquets and they are GORGEOUS!
Have fun!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 1:24PM
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susiq(NW AR 6B)

Welcome, nicucoll. Glad you're here. You've got a wonderful new "passion" to pursue, and lots of dirt to get on your knees and under your nails!

By the way, my usual LONG response is ahead!

Michigan Bulb is an IFFFFFFY company. I've rarely heard anything good about them! They supposedly sell poor quality plants to eager, uninformed beginners, who then wonder why their gardens aren't gorgeous. Of course, everyone's experiences are different, but forewarned is forearmed.

Better seed companies are Johnnie's, Select Seeds, Germania, and Stokes. Germania is strictly commercial, Johnnies & Stokes have home gardener catalogs and commercial catalogs, and Select Seeds is strictly home gardener. There are tons of other seed companies, too, but those are the ones most mentioned here. Wildseed Farms in Fredricksburg, TX has a great wildflower catalog. A forum member grows his own wildflower seeds, but I don't know if he sells to the public.

There are about as many rose, dahlia, iris, hosta, tree, shrub, etc vendors out there in the real world and internet land as there are people in the world! Visit related forums on gardenweb & read their posts. They'll tell you who the best vendors are for price & service.

Read all the old threads on this forum, too. That'll help you a LOT! Buy or get from the library the various Cut flower books we mention & read them.

Best of all, get out there and plant something! If it lives, you "win"! and learn something. If it dies, you also learn something. Remember, cut flower beds at their optimum are NOT pretty! The pretty flowers are there to be CUT!, leaving headless sunflower stems, de-flowered zinnias, dahlias, roses, whatever. If you want your flowers "on display" like in a cottage garden, AND you want a cut flower garden, the cut flower garden will ideally need to be where it's NOT on display to neighbors and passersby.

You also have to force yourself outside in 95 degree temps, or 40 degree temps in winter, or whatever inbetween, and do at least SOME chores in those awful temps, because not all can be done (in summer) between 6-8pm when it's cool!

Your question # 2 is confusing: "2)I have mostly full sun and my front garden daytime shade..what are some good plants to try growing? "

Do you have shade or sun? Decide, and then plant accordingly. I don't mean to be flippant, but only you can tell what your yard has, and you'll have to do some experimenting to see what works.

Find out when your average first frost in the fall is if you don't know. Then count backwards into the summer months 12-18 weeks. Twelve weeks is about the shortest it takes to grow a sunflower or zinnia, and you probably have time to start some of those. Some of those can be grown in as few as 9-10 weeks, but you'll have to read the descriptions. You could start a bunch of perennial seeds now, and they'll be ready to plant out into your garden(s) sometime next spring, or maybe this fall, if you can do fall plantings where you are. If you don't want to do seeds yet, then your local nurseries or Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot will have SOME plants to experiment with. Buy some of those, plant them, see how they do & how you like them, and what you have to do to keep them alive over winter. (obviously, annuals won't live over winter, but various perennials, shrubs, roses, and trees should.)

#3, Plants, like people, need regular doses of food, so yes, you should fertilize a little when you plant, and maybe a little more fertilizer later on in the plant's life cycle. You'll have to read each individual plant's fertilizer needs and feed accordingly. If you haven't already done so, ask your county extension agent(s) how to go about getting a soil sample tested. The results of that test will tell you how much Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium (N, P, K) you have in your soil, and how much more of those major (and sometimes minor) minerals you need to add. It will also tell you whether your soil is acid or alkaline. You don't HAVE to have a soil test, but it can keep you from overdoing one or more of the elements if your soil is already high in that mineral. For example, lots of people recommend Epsom Salts for roses (and other plants), but if your soil is high in Magnesium, then you probably shouldn't add more, which is what Epsom Salts is. Clear as mud so far?

#4, Again, try your library or craft or regular book store for floral arrangement books. You could also go to, or any of the other zillion on-line floral delivery services, and study the bouquets they have for sale. All very traditional, but good learning tools. Count how many roses or sunflowers or "whatever" are in the "standard" $50-60 arrangement. Notice where in the bouquet they are placed, and how many "other" flowers are in that arrangement and where they are placed. Then practice on the flowers you have at home. If nothing is blooming right now, gather some sticks (literally!), and see what they feel like in your hand, how many of that size stick will go into a vase of what size, and experiment! By the time you have something blooming, you can judge stem size by those sticks you practiced with, and be more confident about putting so many stems of that size into your bouquet.

I'm such a newbie to some flowers myself: I've just been cutting my first sunflowers in years. NOTHING prepared me for how BIG and HEAVY those suns are! Nearly an inch wide stems, cut 3-4' long, are BIG! Even tulips and daffodils (in season) can be very long and heavy, and of course, you have to be careful w/ any flower's "bloom", not to damage it in the cutting/conditioning/ bouquet making process.

Good luck, have fun, don't forget sun screen, bug repellant, big hats, long sleeved shirts,(even/especially in 95 degree days!) good sturdy shoes/boots (you don't want to get ant-bit or trip in flip flops), your shovel, hand tools, portable radio or cd, water for you & the plants, seed packets/plants, soil ammendment bags, fertilizer bags, mulch bags, kneeling pad to protect your knees, cardboard/newspaper to lay down for pathways or weed control, and anything else you might need for 5 minutes to 5 hours of intensive gardening/farming! LOL!



Carrie, I envy you your ready supply of chicken poop (re your comment on another thread). Not the greatest smell, but I've heard it does wonders for soil ammending and fertilizing. As long as it's not fresh!, and even if well aged, that you don't use too much!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 3:49PM
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KrazyKim(z5 MI)

Chicken Poop? Huh? I must have missed that. I have chickens and conincidently, I have chicken poo.

Nicucoll, welcome :)

Here are the recent books I got at the library (had to put them on reserve)

The Flower Farmer: Byczynski
The Cutting Garden: Raven
The Complete Book of Plant Propogation: Clarke/TooGood
Trade Secrets: Madderlake's
Cutting Gardens: Halpin/Mackey
The Cutting Garden: Proctor
Heirloom Flowers: Martin

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 4:28PM
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jansblooms(z4 IA)

Welcome, Nicucoll,

Here's a site with floral designs. It's by the Ohio chapter of the National Garden Club. You can learn about color theory, elements of design, and traditional designs. The 'mass' designs are most like the bouquets you'll find photos of here. You'll also have a chance, by clicking on Photo Album on the left, to look at some other designs used mostly in flower show competition. I'm guessing that these nontraditonal styles are not what you're most interested in learning right now. In addition, try an Illinois Garden Club site for many designs, many kinds. It's Good luck as you grow (flowers and in knowledge)!

Here is a link that might be useful: Ohio Garden Clubs

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 5:53PM
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