Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to hit the seed catalogs. Our days are getting a little longer, which makes me feel more ready to think about spring and all the flowers I need each year for the B&B’s gardens and baskets. While I am still technically open in the late winter months and enjoy a lot of guests coming for the Iditarod at the end of February/early March, my mind starts to shift over to the upcoming summer season. It starts to feel exciting, the dawn of a new visitor season. It’s fun to sit down with the seed catalogs and plan out hanging basket schemes and colorful annuals to accent the perennials in the garden beds and rock gardens.
This year I think I’m in the mood for colors that zing. A lot of our native Alaska flowers and those that do well here are cool blues and violets–delphiniums, blue bells, blue poppies, iris, lupine, lobelia…My rugosa roses are mainly pale pinks and rubine/fuscia tones. Last year I could not find any sunflower plants for sale. I take that back–I found a few and paid $5 per plant for 10 one-foot-tall sunflowers which I put on the backside of a fence, to come up behind the roses. They had a complete failure to thrive and stayed one foot tall. I took those darned things right back to Wal-Mart, I was so mad. This year I’ll grow them myself.
Let me tell you, I make the rounds each spring to every local grower, greenhouse, landscape company, and then also our new big box stores, Lowes and Home Depot, and also Wal-Mart. Sad to say, I’ve had about equal success, or lack thereof at each place. I think my success rate for getting perennials through a winter and coming up the next spring is about 60%. And they are expensive here! Ouch!
Three years ago, I started my own seedlings and used those. I guess I’ve been gone the past two springs for several weeks so didn’t undertake that task. I’m looking forward to doing it again this year, starting all the flats, feeding them, turning them in the big windows, and growing them through May when it’ll be time to make up the 30 or so baskets that go around the house and on the decks, and then once we get into June and past the last freeze, it’ll be time to add more perennials to the beds.