Back to Back Issues Page
Favorite Flowers and Bargain Shopping
August 09, 2010

That sound you hear is me crying.

The sun now sets before 9:00 PM in SW. Michigan as the daylight hours continue to shrink.

(Sunset at bottom of letter).

Hummingbirds are busy with natural food sources.

More than they are at my feeders as the picture indicates.

Still, it is a joy to watch these diminutive birds maneuver within the flowers.

No sign of hummer fledglings, soon however.

Other feeder action has slowed down some, but I have had a few special visitors.

Scattered throughout the letter are pictures of some recent feeder guests, though the ducks are regulars.

Mother deer kept her offspring away this day.

The few days that Karen and I were gone was so relaxing for me.

There is something special about a large body of water and sunsets.

The chance to get a glimpse of wildlife goes without saying.

It could be a green frog hiding in the duckweed or maybe some Sandhill cranes in a distant field (below).

Nothing beats God's natural wonders.

Every time we return from the north country, I find myself a bit depressed for several days.

I have a new appreciation for central air.

For two of the hottest, most humid days of the season, the beast stopped working.

Thankfully a technician could squeeze us in and it was only a busted thermostat.

Probably from Karen and me constantly doing battle over the temperature, I want it cooler and she wants it warmer.

We need rain.

With all the rain we have had this year, we need some bad right now (dispersion).

Last week brought the first BLT sandwich of the season.

Nothing beats a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich when you pick the lettuce and tomato from your own garden.

Before we get to the content of this letter, here are a few more of your favorite flowers.

If you want to participate,

Reply back to this letter with you favorite flowers and why.

Also your:

First name (last is optional)

City or location.

State or province.

Thank you in advance.

Sue from Tilton, IL.

I love geraniums because they are the only ones that can handle the treatment they get from me and survive! I Start mine from seed and plant lots of them together so that they are full, when they're all in bloom they are gorgeous. They can go longer without water and won't die if you're gone for a week!

Sue, Karen enjoys geraniums and thankfully so as she can neglect pots from time to time.

Geraniums are also a great insect deterrent and according to Michigan State University, White geraniums deter Japanese Beetles and are a good partner in your gardens.

Thank you for sharing Sue.

Judi Mandl from Harwinton, CT

My favorite flowers are columbines. They don't grow that well in my yard, I don' t have enough continuous moisture, but the flowers are like fairies and each one seems unique. I love the delicate lace foliage, as well. The spent flower and seed heads are interesting.

I also like astilbe, especially the dark red variety and white fluffy ones. I love the scent of my yard in late May when it is filled with the blossoms of Lily of the Valley.

Dicentra is another favorite, I have a variety of white bleeding hearts that I look forward to its blooms every year.

Foxgloves that self sow all over the place

I love white coneflower but it doesn't seem to come back, not like the mauve pink ones that takes over every square inch of garden.

I have several baby Japanese maple trees that are lovely. They are several years old and about 2 feet tall. The lovely maroon leaves are a treat in the garden.

Mondarda is wonderful, the bees, birds, hummers, butterflies, moths, all the flying things that hover and look for the sweet nectar !

There aren't too many flowers I don't like , but in general I admire the tenacity of perennials that sleep through the harsh winter months and come back every year.

Judi, you are much like me.

I have a difficult time choosing a favorite and is often the ones in bloom right now.

Thank you for sharing.

Sue in Montgomery, MI

Right now the butterfly bush is my favorite. Why?? because it's blooming and it smells so good. When the lilies are blooming they are by far my favorite, some of the colors are so deep and rich, they look like you could fall into them. In the spring, all the spring bloomers are my favorite. How can they not be??

All that wonderful color and fragrance after a drab winter. Lilacs, wow, ambrosia, and there's nothing like seeing a field of daffodils waving in a spring breeze. My least favorite flower would be, let's see, ummm, ahh, I guess there just isn't a least favorite flower in the bunch.

Sue, there it is again...................................whatever is blooming right now is a favorite.

Thank you so much.

Marti of Lake Milton, OH

I love all the varieties of flowers there are. My favorite annual has to be the Scaveola, or the fan flower. It is an amazing annual that has grown 6 times since I bought it. It is spectacular in a high container, so the plant can flow around and out. If ever you get one, make sure to water it every day-at least a half a gallon. You will be well rewarded.

My favorite perennial would be the Quick fire hydrangea I have. It has an airier looking flower than the other hydrangeas. It goes from a white color to almost a salmon, then a beautiful pink. I am very happy with it. I have a lot of perennials, but that one blooms the longest!

Marti, Scaveola is also a drought tolerant plant that bounce back nicely.

Your paniculata type hydrangea take well to pruning and can even be shaped into a tree hydrangea.

Thank you as always.

Ili from California

My favorite flower is usually also, what's blooming right now, from tiny to humongous. I admire Zinnias a lot, here is my buy at Lowes' sale rack..Profusion Zinnias,

Thank you so much Ili for sharing.

Sandy from Albion, NY

I don't think I have a favorite flower. In spring I would have to say the lilac they smell so good but are only here for a few short weeks. After that I just love all flowers love watching them grow and bloom and having color and fragrance where ever you look and what ever attracts birds and butterflies.

Yes, Sandy, there is something about the intoxicating aroma or the lilac that puts it on so many favorite lists.

Thank you so much.

There you have it.

Last week's theme seemed to be favorites that were passed down or had special meaning.

For some reason, this week they all had a theme of what is in bloom now.

No matter, we seem to need flowers as much as wildlife does, but for other reasons.

We need God's flowers to add beauty and to cheer us up.

Thanks for sharing gang and thank you for the kind words you send me.

I am finally starting to see a Monarch or two on a regular basis and that is a good thing.

You may recall that the Monarch population was devastated this past winter by severe weather.

This has happened before and the Butterflies will survive as long as it doesn't happen again anytime soon.

You can always help these regal guests to your gardens by planting any of the several species of Milkweed (Asclepias).

Butterfly flower or butterfly weed pictured (Asclepias tuberosa).

Milkweed is a very important host plant needed for the reproduction and continued success for this butterfly.

Continue to water and feed your heavy bloomers and crops that continue to produce crops.

This helps to insure more crops and flowers for you to enjoy and to share.

(Mother deer isn't to skittish as I was able to get pretty close to her and there is no doubt that she is nursing.)

For me, this is a time of year where there are some mixed emotions.

Like many of you, there is the bounty of the vegetable gardens.

The long wait is over, as we seem to swim in beans, summer squash, tomatoes and peppers.

Not to mention sweet corn, new potatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers and all of the other items we can squeeze in.

At the same time, our gardens begin to show a haggard look.

That warn out and beat up look.

Gone are the fresh looking rows and the high anticipation.

No longer do our flower beds and gardens grow with promising beauty.

For many of us, our flower gardens may have past their peak or peaking now , with so much growing season left.

Thankfully we have annuals that keep growing and blooming to fill in gaps and to make cut flowers arraignments with.

Still, with proper planning you can have fresh veggies and blooming flowers even past the first frosts.

August isn't a bad time to start thinking and planning for next year.

This time of year you can find some real prizes for your yard and gardens and get them at bargain prices.

Yes, plants look a bit rough around the edges at garden centers as well.

Box stores and nursery/garden centers are looking to reduce inventories.

For box stores, the faster the better.

If plants aren't marked down, ask when that will happen.

You may even get prices knocked down even more by asking.

This is a good ploy, if you are a regular shopper and the worker may know or recognize you.

Never demand, but work and ask nicely.

'Please', 'Thank you' and 'You're welcome' can go a long way for you.

And always remember your best smiles.

I am speaking as a consumer and as a person that has been on the other side of it as well.

I know how to work the deal and what it is like to be worked.

Sometimes it becomes a game, but I will tell you this.

The second a customer gets demanding or becomes a know it all, most sales clerk, Nurseryman or what have you, will go into a defensive mode and you more than likely will lose any leverage in making a deal.

(Opossum gleaning under feeders.)

For the experienced gardener, there are hidden treasures in many a beat up or sickly looking plant.

This holds true for the novice gardener and shopper as well.

Not only will you hunt the bargain bins, but look for plants and trees in the regular section that looks a bit tattered on top.

A plant that has already bloomed and past its prime, yet you know is perfectly healthy.

Many clerks are clueless as they may simply be a warm body and can be had.

What you need to do is look inside the pot.

Pull the plant out of the pot.

Are there healthy white roots growing (even if pot bound)?

Does the dirt smell like dirt or like something rotting?

You want the smell of dirt, not sewage.

Most garden centers will allow this and should assist you in the process.

Remember to always put the plant and tag back into the pot.

Even though the perennial may be dieing back or look sick, check to see if the crown looks healthy.

Remember, many of your perennials die back or look pretty sick after they bloom.

Mystery plants are always fun.

What about shrubs and trees?

Weakened branches and injured growth can be cut back almost to ground level and shrubs will come back as good as new as long as the root system is healthy.

For many of your shrubs, it is a good idea to prune them every few years as it is. (timing is important for bloomers).

(Turkeys, two moms and 11 poults stopped by last week).

Trees are a bit more difficult to bargain hunt.

Leaves can look discolored and show signs of stress and fungus.

Often this is from the growing conditions that nurseries/garden centers can or can't provide.

With all plants, shrubs and trees, do some research first.

Research really holds true with trees and here is why.

Trees are a much more expensive investment, even when they are on Clearance and many clearance items don't offer guarantees.

It may take a few years, or even several years for a currant problem to rear its ugly head.

Issues like a bad graft, scraped bark and scar that may weaken a tree if it is large.

Crotches that appear normal, are indeed a weak link in any tree.

Honest and knowledgeable workers are really important.

Come prepared and know the person you will be dealing with.

Ask for and get

planting instructions, especially for trees.

If you don't have a place prepared for your new findings, you can always heal them in, in a holding area.

Healing in allows for your plants to get some roots established and suck up what it needs.

Every gardener at one time or another buys a plant or has one follow him or her home without a place prepared or have a clue where it will be planted.

But you always can find a place to heal in.

This also gives you time to plan for later this year and into next spring on where you are going to plant all of your new finds.

Now when you are ready to plant, your plants will have a new, strong and growing root system.

One last thing...................................

Plant like needs with like needs.

Sun with sun, moist with moist and so on.

Just remember to water them well, no matter what as everything is considered a new planting for the first year.

You just might get that one new cultivar you were looking at, but didn't want to pay full price.

While looking ahead, you may also want to ask neighbors or fellow gardeners to share slips and seeds and be sure to share what you have as well.

This is an excellent way to get plants and not spend a penny.

True gardeners are always willing to share advice and plants.

It is one trait that makes gardeners, nature lovers and backyard birders special people.

Happy hunting.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is a special thought for the week.

"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door and the whole world will be clean."

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

I don't think the author of this quote was referring just to your front door.

Could he possibly be talking about other things?

Get your own life in order and not worry about others.

Possibly live and lead by example.

It is all to easy easy to worry about or even complain about the next guy (look in the mirror).

We complain and we don't know if there are circumstances that we aren't aware of.

If there are issues, how can you possibly help when your own front door or your own life needs some tidying up.

I've been there.

I know how easy it is.

I know how quick it is to point fingers and complain (I'm still working on this one).

Here's a thought.......................

Are others pointing an secretly complaining about you?

Yes, if we all kept our own door, our own life clean, then the whole world would be clean.

The whole world would smile.


Now there is something we can talk about and share.

Smiles are free and never hurt others.

Smiles are uplifting.

Make an effort to share your smiles and you sweep your door clean.

Until next time,

God Bless.

Matthew 7:3-5 (New International Version)

3. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4. How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

5. You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

Back to Back Issues Page