One of the showiest blooms in a Southern garden makes its appearance in late February when everything else is still asleep. It’s the Camellia japonica, cousin to the autumn flowering Camellia sasanqua. While sasanquas tend to be delicate, Camellia japonica is a bold, fleshy flower that screams, “Look at me!”
With their dark, evergreen leaves Camellias make beautiful hedges and the blooms create a seasonal focal point.
Today, May 31st is World No Tobacco Day so in honor of that celebration I’d like to tell you about a few Flowering Tobaccos!
Smoking tobacco, Nicotiana tabacum came from the New World and circled out to cultures around the globe. Flowering Tobacco, the cousin of leaf tobacco, is a charming heirloom flower experiencing a Renaissance with gardeners lately. The best part about this ornamental is that it fills the summer garden with large, brightly colored trumpets of star-shaped flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Many hybrids offer smaller, more compact plants with abundant flowers that bloom throughout the summer.
I also grow Nicotiana sylvestris for its statuesque presence and sweet aroma. It makes a bold statement in my flower borders and frequently comes back as a volunteer. The plant is very fragrant with tubular-shaped, white flowers that dance on 30″ – 36″ tall branched stems during the summer.
Another one to try is Nicotiana langsdorfii because it too grows to an impressive height and I love the waxy, lime green blooms. A third species that I just discovered is Nicotiana x hybrida ‘Tinkerbell’. It is similar in appearance to N. langsdorfii but produces lime green and rose flowers with amazing azure blue pollen.
Try Planting an Evening Garden
I enjoy Nicotiana alata for its strong, jasmine like fragrance at night. Introduced into garden cultivation in the United States and England in the early 1800’s Nicotiana alata was prized for its white, highly scented night-blooming flowers. In Victorian times, Nicotiana sylvestris was intentionally planted along walkways and paths so that those strolling by could enjoy the sweet fragrance of the flowers.
A noted garden writer of the early 20th century Louise Beebe Wilder describes Nicotiana alata as a “poor figure by day … but with the coming of the night the long creamy tubes freshen and expand and give forth their rich perfume and we are then glad we have so much of it…”
I have to agree, I’m a huge fan of all of the Flowering Tobaccos!
Did you receive roses for Valentine’s Day? Lucky you! Prolong the love with these three ideas.
When Your Roses Arrive
If your roses came prearranged, simply place the vase in a spot out of direct sun and away from heat sources.
For unarranged roses fill a vase with lukewarm water and add a floral preservative along with one teaspoon of bleach to keep the water clean. Remove any leaves from the stems below water line. Under running water, re-cut the ends of the stems at a slight angle. Place the flowers immediately into the vase.
Every few days replace with water and recut the ends of the stems.
Giving Your Roses a Second Life
Pull the freshest flowers from the bouquet and reuse them in a new arrangement. Buy flowers from a local florist or market to complement the colors of your roses. For red roses try purple, orange, and golden yellow flowers. If you receive salmon roses, add chartreuse, blue, and cream. Pink roses look great with burgundy, lavender, and cream blooms.
Cut the rose and flower stems to about 8 inches long. Grab the entire bouquet as close to the base of the blooms as possible. Wrap a rubber band around the stems to hold the arrangement together tightly. Place the bouquet in a low vase filled with fresh water, floral preservative and a few drops of bleach.
Preserve your Memory
As your roses fade, remove the petals and place them in an open weave basket to dry. Purchase other ingredients from hobby or craft stores to create your own personalized potpourri. I start with a base of pre-packaged dried flowers or potpourri to create a colorful mixture. With an eyedropper add some rose oil to the potpourri and toss gently to refresh the fragrance of the flowers. Place the mixture a bowl or basket where the aroma can be enjoyed.
Can it really be summer already? It seems just yesterday I was gazing out of the window at my ice-encrusted garden, wondering if I would ever see my plants stand tall and wear green again.
During those dimly lit winter days it felt as though time was moving as slow as cold molasses. With the arrival of spring the clock seemed to speed up, and now, on the summer solstice, time is racing by like a runaway horse with me in hot pursuit yelling, “Wait! Not so fast!”
The summer solstice is my cue to make sure my garden is ready for the next season with plants that are autumn showstoppers. Here are 10 of my favorites.
Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
‘Prince’ Fountain Grass (Pennisetum)
Luscious® Citrus Blend™ Lantana
The Knock Out® Family of Roses
Blueberries (Vaccinium sp.)
Japanese Anemone (Anemone x hybrida)
ColorBlaze® Dipt in Wine Coleus
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana)