Roses have always been the flower of love.  They were the first flowers planted around the White House after it was built.  They were mentioned in a Chinese garden writing over 5,000 years ago. Have you tried the new CARPET ROSES? The blooms are small but many. They don’t get over 2 feet tall and I have never sprayed them in 3 years with no signs of blackspot.  There are red and pink ones in the parkway by the mailbox.  Another no-care rose are the KNOCK OUTS. No spraying and the only pruning I have done is to keep the branches out of the path.  Now there are double ones, and pink ones.  Mine are in partial shade in the front yard behind vines and HIBISCUS but they don’t seem to mind.  The have never gotten over 3 feet tall with blooms a little bigger than the Carpets.

LOVE IN THE MIST (Nigella sp) is a short 12 to 18 inches annual with thread like foliage surrounding the petals which accounts for the “mist”. They come in a number of colors and reseed themselves.  You can get doubles, striped or marbled ones.  The seed pods are round, striped, and maroon to put in your winter bouquets. I also found them called “Love in a Puzzle”, or “Devil in a Bush”. They prefer full sun as most of the annuals.

Another sunny annual, that can almost be called weird, is “LOVE LIES BLEEDING”-an AMARANTH whose seeds are used as grain.  AMARANTHUS CANDATUS bleeds in long, roping, blood red spikes that grow 3 to 5 feet in poor soil and hot sun.  I like to have one or two plants in the background with AMARANTHUS BICOLOR called the “SUMMER POINSETTIA”, both of which use fair amounts of water for their large size.  However, they can also get root rot if watered too much. Sometimes LOVE LIES BEEDING survives winter here in Lincoln and both produce large amounts of seed.  EARLY SPLENDOR”, “FLAMING FOUNTAIN”, ILLUMINATION”, and “JOSEPH’S COAT” are special cultivars of tricolor seed that is easy to find in nurseries, and plant catalogs that can be started directly in the garden.  Occasionally nurseries will have started plants.

          Do you remember when everyone had shrubs of BRIDAL WREATH (Spirea Arguta)? A number of years ago they were the most common hedge about 8 feet high and wide covered completely with small intense white blooms.  It adapts to many places but likes full sun.  When it gets too large it can be cut back to the ground and will soon be white again. Or it can be shortened gradually by removing one-third of the biggest oldest stems clear to the ground each year.  I prefer doing either of these methods in the late fall so that new growth will not start until the next spring.  Hybridizers have been at work on the group and now we have spirea’s of colors mostly in pink shades although there are yellow ones such as “GOLDEN PRINCESS”, “GOLD FLAME”, and “GOLD MOUND” that have yellow leaves.   

          There are at least 3 genus of flowers called FORGET ME NOT.  Anchusa, Cynoglossum, and Myosotis all have this title.  The only one I have had is MYOSOTIS. This genus has an alpine, and an aquatic species and MYOSOTIS Sylvatica which is a short 3 to 4 inch plant with blue, white or pink tiny flowers. The name comes from a legend of a knight out walking with his lady. The knight bent over to pick her some small blue flowers but fell in the river and drowned from his armor weight. As he sunk he said “FORGET ME NOT”. It is a biennial that likes partial shade and damp soil blooming very early in the spring.  Some years it produces much seed, and in other years, I have to hunt for new plants.  The original plant was given to me on a tray as they had sold their home. 

          Did you know that JOHNNY JUMP UPS (Viola tricolor) has other names and includes HEARTEASE and LOVE IN IDLENESS? They are very short (3-5 inches) and bloom from early spring until it gets very hot. However, they do bloom much longer than pansies for me.  Some years I have had them get as tall as 18 inches before the summer was over.  They like full sun and produce a number of seeds.  The flowers are only about 1 inch across and occasionally some plants will overwinter as a perennial or biennial. PANSIES are the big flower members of the VIOLA family.  The Romans had them on their dinner table, and they were one of Napoleons favorite flower. Living in my pathways I have white, white and blue, and red violets. Most of their seeds are not formed from the flowers you see but underneath the leaves, next to the soil. You are probably aware that they like to grow in the lawn.

          Every spring I look for BLEEDING HEARTS (Dicentra spectabolis) to appear as they are not always reliable.  They like shade and moist feet.  Some people are allergic to the foliage.  There are about 20 species of DICENTRA but here in Nebraska we generally grow the pink or the white spectabolis with their arching stems from which the hearts hang. In a hot, dry summer they will disappear.  I find moving them to be a challenge as their stems and roots break very easily. DUTCHMANS BREECHES (Dicentra cucullaria) are fun as the pant legs are up and the waistline attached to the stem.

Copyright 2011