bee balm &...

Each time I work in the garden these days, something new has popped up.  We're in the thick of the summer now!  My favorite surprise this week has been the Bee Balm (Monarda), grown from starts given to me by Lennie back in early Spring.  It is so pretty.  A real doctor Suess flower if you will.

Monarda (Bee Balm) is the Purple multitiered flower in the middle.

Monarda (Bee Balm) is the Purple multitiered flower in the middle.

In the raised bed that we planted out in early June we've already got some bloomers.  A sweet pale pink variety of Dianthus (a carnation) is giving its first show.  Everything seems to be doing well there, so I'm happy.  We staked one of the tall Dianthus plants with a 2 feet piece of bamboo and twine yesterday.  Susan looped the twine in a figure 8 formation - one loop around the stem and one loop around the stake to support the plant without putting too much tension on any one spot.  We did this at about 8 " up from the base and then again at another 6" up.  In a Fall blog post about growing Lisianthus by Jennie Love (I'll be ordering my plugs in November!), a compelling case is made for foregoing using netting to support tall flowering plants.  It's expensive and it sounds as though it can be troublesome come harvest time.  My friend Susan echoed this sentiment, expressing that A) netting is expensive and B) If you stake individual stems it is much easier to remove and pull out plants that don't fare so well.  If they are netted, you wouldn't really be able to get to them.  What I have seen and what I think I'll do when I really have a nice full row of tall plants is put stakes around the permiter of the bed and use twine to hold them in.  That way you're kind of using the plants to support each other and the twine/stakes are holding them all in like a gentle girdle...or Spanx!

Last night Susan and I spent an hour going over bouquet making.  It is a tricky thing to teach because in order to achieve an elongated, loose, rambling shape, you really have to lighten your grip on the stems.  I grew up taking ballet and violin lessons and when I look at my hand while holding a bouquet in progress, my fingers are curved in a graceful, gentle arc that reminds me of both of those things.  Sure, things may slide a bit from your grasp at first, but once you've tucked enough stems in using a crisscrossing formation, they are pretty secure.  The ingredients we worked with last night all came from Susan's garden, making her final product SO special because it was all grown by her.  

Included in all of the flowers she brought over were stems of furry, tan whiskers.  Look at the picture below.  Guess what they're called?....EYEBROW GRASS!  I love them so much.

With two back-to-back shoots, we've got a busy two weeks up ahead again.  Can't wait to tell you more about them!  Until next week...