We have another Mouse and Trowel Award winning blogger today for our guest post! Kylee Baumle gardens in zone 5b in Northwest Ohio and online at Our Little Acre, her award-winning blog. She also does gardening book reviews at Gardening by the Book and is one of The Soil Sisters. When she isn’t gardening or writing about gardening, she works as a dental hygienist in dental research. She and her husband of 35 years also care for eight cats, seven of which were rescues.
Has gardening become the “thing to do” or is it just me? No doubt because I’m totally immersed in the world of gardening, both here at Our Little Acre and online, my radar is set to all things that grow, but it seems to me that there are more people out there than ever, taking up gardening as a hobby.
Many have done it as a way to save food money, by growing their own vegetables. Long before I became a serious gardener, we grew sweet corn, green beans, and carrots. Now that I’m trying to grow 75% of what’s available – just kidding, sort of – my focus has changed a bit, but I still get great satisfaction out of being able to go to my garden and gather food for the table.
But what makes me really happy is to see all the lovely and varied flowers blooming. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Earth laughs in flowers,” and as I walk through my gardens this time of year, the laughter is contagious.
Often I’m asked for advice about what to grow where and while design is not my forte, I have some favorite flowers that are sure things in the garden. If you’re a beginner, let me share a few of those plants that I consider to be no fuss, no muss growers.
- Gaillardia – You may know it as Blanket Flower. It’s a daisy-looking native that doesn’t need much to thrive. Some of the hybrids are quite lovely (‘Oranges and Lemons’, ‘Tokajer’, ‘Golden Goblin’, to name a few), but the basic original is beautiful enough on its own, with its yellow and red petals. It’s easily grown from seed, but you can find it in your garden center in plant form as well. It likes full sun and won’t wilt during the hottest part of summer. It’s not picky about soil either. It’s hardy in zones 3-10.
- Daylily (Hemerocallis) – First, let me say that daylilies aren’t true lilies. They have roots, while lilies come from bulbs. That being said, I don’t know if there can be a flower easier to grow. As a daylily breeder once told me, “Just dig a hole, throw it in, and cover it with dirt.” It’s just about that simple! Even though each flower only blooms for a day, the plant has many flowers, so it will be in bloom for quite awhile and some of them rebloom. The variety of daylilies numbers in the thousands, so you’re sure to find one that you like. They’re hardy in zones 3-8.
- Hosta – Need a plant for a shady area? You can’t beat hostas. They provide color by way of their variegated leaves. Oh, they bloom, too, but the lavender spikes aren’t usually that exciting and once they’ve bloomed, they won’t bloom again until next year. But that foliage! There are hundreds and hundreds of hostas in all kinds of variations of variegation and sizes ranging for very large to very tiny. Most are suitable for zones 3-9.
- Coneflower (Echinacea) – This is another native for which there is a large assortment of hybrids. Growing well in a variety of soils and conditions, coneflowers like full sun, and butterflies like coneflowers! They have a daisy look to them and their short-spiked centers feel like plastic! They grow well in zones 2-10, with some hybrids less cold-hardy. Check their tags.
- Coreopsis – Also known as tickseed, this perennial has varied foliage forms, from threadlike (‘Moonbeam’) to the more traditional, narrow leaves. There are some interesting petal forms on coreopsis, too. ‘Jethro Tull’ has tubular gold petals, as does ‘Zamphir.’ Coreopsis can be grown in zones 4-9.
While these are some of the easiest perennials to grow, don’t be afraid to try others, even if you feel like it takes a bit more gardening experience to grow them. I’ve learned far more from my failures than my successes. I learn what doesn’t work and many times I also learn why, which helps me in my future plant choices.
Can’t get enough? Check out our post on Kylee’s Our Little Acre Blog!