Category: 2015

Late Fall Blooms


Skipping to the good stuff here — skipping spring poppies, summer sweet peas and getting straight into the high summer/autumn beauties!

My BESTIE is getting married October 8th this year so I need to focus. She’s enlisted me to do her flowers and I couldn’t be more excited!

Autumn is when the bounty rolls in. Last year October was the month I felt like I hit my stride. The dahlias, zinnias and foliage were amazing!


The dahlias!


I love the idea of breaking floral elements into three categories – the brides, bridesmaids and “uglies”.


The bride is that cafe au lait dahlia – demanding attention. The most perfect element.


The bridesmaids could be the bolder dahlias above. Their color brings contrast that helps the bride pop. Her beauty and form still hold the spotlight.

Or they can be as simple and unassuming as the neutral zinnias below. Echoing the subtle color of the bride while still allowing her to shine


The “uglies” are the foliage. To me they are lush, verdant and help everyone else pop. On their own they’re not much to look at. They have a vital role as filler, it’d take a LOT more flowers without them!




They’re the official flower of the great city of Chicago! They’re also amazingly long lasting cut flowers, easy to propagate and come in all kinds of beautiful =D


I really enjoyed growing them last season. I ordered mine from Minnesota. Most flower farmers rave about Kings Mums but I don’t have experience with them. My understanding is those require careful overwintering and I’m not into that.


Let’s start with what these are not.  These are not “exhibition” type mums. They’re not the Seaton’s J’dore variety you see all over Instagram.


These “Mums from Minnesota” at are bred for brutal winters. Not exactly what I’m into but it’s what I’m stuck with. I’ll be sure to report on their hardiness as soon as the ground isn’t frozen solid =P



A novelty quill flowered variety



These mums are beautiful!!! There are all different types available. My absolute favorite variety is above and below, name is “Homecoming”. I was expecting “Pat Lehman” to be my favorite from the photos online but “Homecoming” was a pleasant surprise.



Hold up — Is that a dead ringer for Pantone’s “Rose Quartz”??!?!



So if you’re convinced and have to grow some mums now, here was my process

  1. The first year, I bought whatever looked promising in the catalog and just planted one. I know, JUST ONE?! How are you going to plant just one of anything?! I don’t know, good luck. I did plant 2 of one variety.
  2. The second year, cross your fingers that your faves survived winter. Then propagate like crazy. Mums root readily from cuttings so that part should be easy. If you don’t know what I’m talking about just google it. If you still can’t figure it out request a tutorial in the comments. Stop rooting by July 1st. Harvest all your other beautiful flowers all season and watch the mums grow lush, green and beautiful with a little water and weeding. By late September be pleasantly surprised with a new and inspirational harvest! Let’s be honest, we’re all a little bored with Dahlias come October. Mums are the perfect distraction
  3. Enjoy and share with your flowery friends =D



A New Year, A New Challenge

Fragrance is my primary goal in the garden this year. Last year I’d show someone a flower and they would always try to smell it. With zinnias and dahlias, there is no scent. Unfortunately scent has been bred out of many flowers over the years. Plant breeders have decided the ability to ship long distances and last weeks in a vase are more important than scent.  I disagree. Local, slow flowers allow for fragrance AND freshness. Not being shipped long distances mean we’ll still get a decent vase life.

My goal this year is to have at least one type of flower with noticeable scent blooming throughout the season.


  • Tulips and Daffodils: I spent a good deal of time seeking out varieties that mentioned fragrance in their description. A few pots are in windows in my living room. This morning I saw two buds! I started them in the pots around Halloween and kept them in our attic which has been between 40-50F. Many many others are outside buried under 3-4″ of snow at the moment. Source:, Big Box Stores on Sale
  • Dianthus ‘Inchmery’: Usually called carnations at the florist, also known as pinks with gardeners. I have a rare one ordered that says it is their most fragrant antique pink. Blooms into summer. Source:
  • Mignonette ‘Machet’: Flowers don’t look gorgeous but are supposed to smell amazing. Good thing I’m selecting for scent. I know I will be able to mix them with other flowers that won’t have a scent to make a perfect arrangement. Blooms into summer. Source:
  • Icelandic Poppy ‘Champagne bubbles’: Bought a start last year from a local nursery and it was beautiful — don’t recall a scent. Going to try again. Source:
  • Sweet Pea ‘Mollie Rilestone’ and ‘Spring Sunshine’: Attempted this last year but started them too late. Going to give it one last shot. The few that bloomed last year smelled fantastic. Blooms into summer. Source:


  • Heliotrope ‘Sweet Heaven’: I’m not sure how this will hold up in our hot Chicago summers. Selected this variety because of the comment on that it held up well over a hot summer. Source:
  • Nasturtium ‘Golden Gleam’: Hope to use this as a foliage more than a cut flower. This variety said it had a pleasant scent.
  • Red Swallowwort: One word – vanilla. If this one smells like vanilla then the room it takes in the garden will be well worth it. Supposed to be a big plant at 4′ height x 3′ width. Great for butterflies! Source:
  • Tobacco ‘Cranberry Isles’: This one says it is scented at night. If I cut it at night will it retain its fragrance? Not sure but willing to find out. Source:

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