Balsam: Heirloom Annual Worth New Popularity

I haven’t planted balsam, the pretty Victorian-era annual, since 1970 or possibly 1971, but I can still visualize the tidy flowers shaped like little roses or camellias. I wasn’t alone in my admiration of balsam, botanically known as Impatiens balsamina, a relative of the more common impatiens. Thomas Jefferson was a huge fan, and planted…
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Old-Fashioned Sweet Peas Experience A Revival

The woven-wire fence surrounding our garden by the back alley of my boyhood home in Lisbon, N.D. always bloomed abundantly with sweet pea flowers. Have you smelled sweet peas? They’re one of life’s greatest simple pleasures, and a bouquet in a glass of water is simple beauty at its fragrant finest. Mom always planted sweet…
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Improved Zinnias Are Easy And Prolific

Ever notice how some flowers just seem happy? Zinnias are like that. If flowers could smile, zinnias would be grinning from ear to ear. Maybe it’s because they’ve been making gardeners happy since the days pioneers planted their first flowerbeds. Zinnias are fun and easy, and now they’re better than ever. Here’s the scoop: Zinnias…
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Unique Annual For Flowerbed Backdrops

It’s fun to grow things that cause passersby to stop and point. All flowers are nice, but some are unique and uncommon enough to stir curiosity. One such flower is cleome. (Usually pronounced klee-ohm, or less often klee-OH-mee.) Nicknames include spider flower and grandfather’s whiskers. It’s one of our long-time favorites, and great for flowerbed…
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Two-Hundred-Year-Old Marigold Making A Popular Comeback

Sometimes old flower varieties are best left in the past, because improved versions are, well, improvements. Newer types might have improved vigor with larger flowers, better disease resistance or longer blooming season, so planting the older versions can be disappointing. But there are a few very old flower varieties that need no improvement, yet they’ve…
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