Renee Shepherd of Renee's Garden Seeds (yes, she's a real person) was in Seattle last weekend to give talks at Wells-Medina and Bellevue Nursery, and to visit her sister and webmaster, Sue Sheckett, who lives near the Arboretum. Renee and I met for coffee on Monday morning and had one of those wonderful state-of-horticulture conversations; I'm so lucky to have her company as a partner on Plant Talk....Here are a few highlights from our meandering, fruitful conversation:
-All those new coneflowers (Echinacea) that have been coming out the last few years in such tempting sunset colors have been improved, and are now truly perennial. If like me you succumbed, and planted some only to have them disappear, Renee advised that it might well be worth giving them another chance.
- Renee is putting together new mixes of variously colored nasturtiums, like the new-for-2012 "Cup of Sun" mix which includes nasturtiums in shades from white through cream, chamois, yellow, gold and pumpkin. I need to order these right away! Chamois-colored nasturtiums literally make my mouth water...
- Watch for some extravagant poppies in the future from Renee's Garden Seeds - she's trialing a bunch of peony-flowering (intensely ruffled and doubled) poppies, and will be selling them as soon as she's figured out which kinds do best.
-Renee says she's "determined to popularize" the modest little chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata) which has the strongest, most delicious chocolate scent of any flower. She says it's "not wimpy" like chocolate cosmos, which fade away even in
California. I thought they just couldn't take our wet winters. Chocolate flower is small and bright yellow, daisy-like with brown centers....it's an easy-to-grow wildlfower that draws pollinators, but really it's that rich, deep smell of chocolate that'll make Renee successful popularizing it...check out the 15% discount she offers to readers of Plant Talk (right).
- Renee is working on so many valuable projects and ideas - she's trialing various potting soils and developing more vegetables and flowers that thrive in containers. Sign up for her newsletter to keep up with what she's doing....and in the meantime, check out these useful, practical posts on organic gardening from Renee's blog.
-Renee suggests planting two rows of cilantro, and let one go to seed to attract beneficial insects. Speaking of beneficials, she advised me that old-fashioned, sweet alyssum is not only easy to grow from seed, blooms forever, re-seeds itself, and is fragrant, but attracts more beneficial insects than any other flower.
I'm convinced, and headed out to scatter seeds of 'Summer Peaches' alyssum to edge all my raised beds. This Dutch variety smells like honey and is quick to flower. Its warm shades of soft orange and peach will make both me and the bees and butterflies very happy....
Happy Mother's Day - wishing all you Moms plenty of sweet flowers in your garden and in your life....