I Love Zinnias

| 9/30/2010 4:37:23 PM

Tags: Zinnias, Flowers in the Garden, Carolyn Binder,

A photo of Carolyn BinderSince moving to Cowlick Cottage Farm almost five years ago, I have moved from a mild interest in  manicured hedges and annual plantings of flower beds to a general obsession with growing fruits and vegetables that are not only great to look at, but also productive and edible. Once I saw the absolute beauty of a squash blossom that grew into a butternut squash that was transformed into a beautiful soup that fed my family and friends, there was no going back to impatiens and petunias. However, there is definitely a place for flowers on the farm.

Zinnias are beautifulThey attract beneficial insects, they smell wonderful, and they add their own beauty and charm to the garden. But flowers are not going to be pampered and spoiled at this farm! They need to be tough, resistant to pests, able to withstand heat, drought and heavy rains. And I am definitely not going to spend a lot of money on them. Knockout roses, daylilies, sages, and salvias add beauty and exuberance to my garden. But I think my favorites are the zinnias.

We have a 5 X 30 foot border garden that my husband tilled and I sowed with a few dollars worth of a blend of zinnia seeds this past spring.   The reward?  For the cost of a grocery store bouquet, we have enjoyed hundreds of zinnia blossoms all summer long.  Other than regular watering until the seedlings were a few inches tall, the only attention I give to them is to point my camera lens at their pretty faces and cut them to grace the kitchen counter or my desk at work.  Aren’t they pretty?

Pink zinnia 

Zinnias don’t need special care.

Orange zinnia 

carolyn binder
10/11/2010 12:36:12 PM

Hi zinnia lovers! Thanks for all your interesting comments. Whitehair - I am going to try saving some of my zinnia seeds this year. This is my second season saving vegetable seeds, and it's so satisfying to grow from your own. Sylvia - I love nasturtiums, too. I mix them amongst my veggies, and they scamper around and pop up whereever they feel like it. For my friends that struggle a bit with flower gardening, I encourage you to buy a couple of inexpensive packets of zinnia and nasturtium seeds in the springtime and give them a try. They really are easy to grow, and they add so much to the garden. Thanks, everyone! Carolyn www.cowlickcottagefarm.com

10/11/2010 9:03:28 AM

Nebraska Dave - I hear you!! Not so much the hardship of overcoming the farmers habit of straight rows, but the confusion of some shade, partial shade, filtered sun . . . . I see these beautiful garden pictures, dream of them for myself, and totally clueless on how to get there!!! So many of "plans" I find have all of these beautiful EXPENSIVE planting combinations! Oh well, practice makes a pretty garden right? Eventually? Happy Gardening!!

10/9/2010 7:22:45 AM

I also love zinnias. Have been planting a 60' row every year for approximately the past 10 years. All from the original two packets of seeds. I save dried flowers every fall. I separate the flower heads and store in a airtight jar for the winter. In spring I just plant, dried flower petals and seeds right from the jar. Water the seeds and thin as needed and - tada - beautiful flowers until a hard frost does them it.

sylvia w
10/8/2010 8:10:01 AM

Zinnias are one of my two favorite flowers - the other being nasturtiums - and for much the same reasons! Both are supremely easy to grow, requiring very little tending, and put out a buoyant gypsy-exuberant display of color, attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds! If I grow nothing else in my flower garden (like those years when health issues mean taking it easy) I will always pick these free and easy charmers ;-)

rebecca twomley
10/8/2010 7:14:53 AM

I also love zinnias. Every summer I plant both the giant ones and the little miniature ones - called "lilliput". The colors are so rich and varied and they last well in a bouquet. I make bouquets for friends and loved ones all summer and keep a vase of them in my house also. With all the troubles in the world - we need lovliness in our lives and Zinnias are one way to have that.

cindy murphy
10/3/2010 1:09:17 PM

I love zinnias too, Carolyn! So many annuals to choose from, hundreds of new ones each year, and it's those old no-fuss-no-muss garden stalwarts I always turn back to - zinnias, marigolds, and begonias. Ya gotta love something that's so beautiful despite taking all the neglect you can throw at it in stride.

nebraska dave
10/1/2010 12:11:58 PM

@Carolyn, flowers have been my thorn in the flesh. There are so many different varieties. Each has it’s own set of parameters to deal with. Row crops I understand because of the farming experience, but flowers now that’s a whole different story. For good displays, flowers aren’t even planted in rows. They are in groups or displays. It goes totally against my ingrained but feeling about planting. I started on my flower journey two years ago and am still trying to overcome the row crop mentality. Maybe in a few more years I’ll be past the bondage of row crop farming. I have tried to grow coneflowers and gladiolas but the strong winds of Nebraska always seem to knock them down into a tangled mess. Spring flowers have been a great success for me but don’t last long enough. I have amazing tulips, daffodils, crocus, and iris but as I say that don’t last much longer than the end of May. Gardening I’m a little better at then flower growing. There’s only one place for gardens and that’s full sun. There’s no guessing what partial sun could mean. It’s a great place to hang out and actually feel accomplishment when the harvest starts coming. I’ve always liked gardening but didn’t have the time until a couple years ago. This is my second year of intensive vertical gardening. The last garden was over 25 years ago. I find that the skills I learned back then are still good to use in gardens of today. Have a great Zinnia flower garden day.

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