Archive for the ‘Flowers’ Category

One of the many joys of gar­den­ing is that you get to exper­i­ment, explore and take risks. Often the cost is no more than a cou­ple of dollars—the price of a pack­age of seeds. This is the fru­gal side of gar­den­ing. (I can also show you the excep­tion­ally non-frugal side of gar­den­ing, but that, my friends, is a story for another blog post.) One of this year’s exper­i­ments in my gar­den was the cup and saucer vine (Cobea scan­dens).

cup and saucer vine Cobea scandens 2

The flow­ers on the cup and saucer vine begin as pale green lanterns and open to ivory or deep pur­ple flowers.

I don’t recall if this is one of the seed pack­ages I pur­chased or if it was included in a free­bie pack­age from Botan­i­cal Inter­ests, one of my favorite seed com­pa­nies. It seems like some­thing I would order because the descrip­tion promised this vine would 1) be a quick grow­ing, 2) grow up to 25 feet in a sin­gle sea­son 3) have flow­ers that open pale green and mature to ivory or deep pur­ple and 4) have a sweet scent.

Appar­ently the only thing this vine doesn’t do is grow hun­dred dol­lar bills on every other vine.

cup and saucer vine Cobea scandens

Before the flow­ers open they resem­ble small, green lanterns.

I like the idea of a quick-growing, dec­o­ra­tive vine as part of cre­at­ing sum­mer shade over the chicken run. The chick­ens have a cov­ered porch that allows them to get out of the rain or to shel­ter from the blaz­ing sun. But in the sum­mer some dap­pled shade over the rest of the run would improve the com­fort fac­tor in the rest of the run as well as shade their water cooler.

So how did the cup and saucer vine perform?

I’m think­ing of start­ing my own rat­ing sys­tem. For now, let’s base the rat­ing sys­tem on stars. I’ll fancy up the idea later.

What should my per­sonal rat­ing sys­tem include? An over­all rat­ing, cer­tainly. Beauty? Yes, I do think beauty is impor­tant. Pest/disease resis­tance in my gar­den? Yes indeed, that seems like a good idea too. I am over hav­ing pow­dery mildew on lilacs and Japan­ese bee­tles on pole beans. Toxicity/safety? This might not be impor­tant to some gar­den­ers, but it is impor­tant to me if I’m going to grow it over the chicken coop. I found a handy list of toxic/non-toxic plants assem­bled by the Cal­i­for­nia Poi­son Con­trol Sys­tem. The cup and saucer vine is, appar­ently, non-toxic—at least to humans. I didn’t find it listed as toxic to chick­ens any­where else on the Inter­net. And in my bold exper­i­ment here it is, appar­ently, non-toxic since the chick­ens have kept the lower parts of the vines pecked clean of leaves and flowers.

What else? Scent? Use­ful­ness? Edi­bil­ity? Okay, we’ll go with that for now.

Chicken coop with cup and saucer vine

The cup and saucer vine cov­ers the left side of the out­door run. The vine on the right climb­ing over the coop roof is a sweet autumn clema­tis, which will be cov­ered in tiny white flow­ers in the fall.

So, here is my rat­ing for the cup and saucer plant on a four-star (for now) rat­ing system.

***    Beauty — The flow­ers cer­tainly are beau­ti­ful, although they are some­what sub­tle. This is not a vine that will draw your eye from a dis­tance as some clema­tis do, for exam­ple.
**** Pest/disease resis­tance — No com­plaints here. The Japan­ese bee­tles are com­pletely unin­ter­ested. The vine doesn’t show any signs of dis­ease or other prob­lems this year.
**** Safety/non-toxicity — Cour­tesy of the Cal­i­for­nia Poi­son Con­trol Sys­tem and my own bold exper­i­ment.
**      Scent — The flow­ers do have a mildly sweet scent, but you need to stick your nose right into it to smell it.
**** Use­ful­ness — This is a work horse-type vine because it grows so quickly, pro­vid­ing a nice screen where needed in the sum­mer heat.
*        Edi­bil­ity — You can’t eat it (I don’t think). Well, you can’t have every­thing.
**** Over­all — A grand four-star rating.

The big­ger ques­tion might be, would I grow the cup and saucer vine again? Yes! And I would also rec­om­mend it to other gar­den­ers. It’s an easy, robust and pleas­ing vine. All for the cost of a pack­age of seeds.

 

Robin

Later on this evening we’re hav­ing a big birth­day cel­e­bra­tion Chez Bum­ble­bee. It’s my husband’s mmmmm birth­day cel­e­bra­tion and I want to do it up right. His favorite meal. Favorite wine. Favorite cake. Can­dles. Flow­ers. Oh, and those flow­ers? We have some mums!

This year I have seen some stun­ning arrange­ments of mums. So I decided to pull together a mum-featured arrange­ment for the birth­day boy using plants that I could later plant out into the gar­den. It just so hap­pens that the Lowe’s Cre­ative Ideas  peo­ple offered us a mum chal­lenge this month too—with a $50 Lowe’s gift card give­away. (That’s right. Pay atten­tion, peo­ple, because there could be some­thing in all this for you.)

I went to Lowe’s search­ing for a nice com­bi­na­tion of plants that would work both in the arrange­ment for the table and that I could also reuse in the gar­den. Here’s what went into this arrange­ment and the costs:

Two Pur­ple Mums (Chrysan­the­mum x mori­folium) — $13.96

Two Lacey Blue Russ­ian Sage (Per­ovskia atrip­li­ci­fo­lia ‘Lisslitt’) — $15.96

One Big Twister Rush (Jun­cus effusus ‘Big Twister’) — $6.98

Three Dianthus – $8.94

Con­tainer — Mine

SUBTOTAL — $45.84

Lowe’s 10% Mil­i­tary Dis­count — $4.58

TOTAL — $41.26

Besides a very nice table arrange­ment that we can enjoy at the party and for the next few days, I also have sev­eral plants that will work right into my gar­den. Win-win!

Now you can win too. As part of the Lowe’s Cre­ative Ideas pro­gram, I can give away a $50 Lowe’s gift cer­tifi­cate to one reader. So, leave a com­ment on this post by Wednes­day, Octo­ber 17, and you might be the one. You can make your own mum arrange­ment or pick up sup­plies for your own next DIY project.

Happy birth­day, Harry! I love you.

Robin

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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