Published: Anything But Ordinary—Inspiring and Unique Flowers

23 11 2011

As a gardener and as an artist and photographer, I have long been attracted to more unusual plants—those that are showy, quirky, alien-like, and over-the-top—anything but ordinary. Any plant or flower that makes me ask,“what in the world is that?” has a place in my garden! Many of these flowers can also be used in bouquets, adding a touch of the exotic and unusual to any arrangement.

In the link below, you can read my latest column for the Bloomin’ Blog, a monthly newsletter published by the flowershopnetwork.com.

http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/unique-flowers-photos/

You can see my previous columns in the links below:

http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/got-the-blues/

http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/passion-purple-flowers/

http://www.flowershopnetwork.com/blog/fall-garden-flowers/





Carpenter bee on Turtlehead bloom

28 09 2011

The Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua) is a hardy herbaceous perennial wildflower in the Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae). The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by bees and I can attest to that because this bank of blooms was swarming with very busy bees. The plant is aptly named because the flowers resemble the head of a turtle. In fact, the botanical name Chelone (rhymes with baloney, Dad) means “tortoise” in Greek. Photographed in the children’s garden at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, VA

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bell Agapanthus

13 07 2011

Native to South Africa, the Bell Agapanthus (Agapanthus campanulatus) is commonly known as Lily of the Nile, although it is not a lily. This herbaceous perennial blooms in summer and is hardy from zones 8 to 10. Several cultivars and hybrids are winter hardy to zone 7. I photographed this emerging bloom yesterday at Green Spring Gardens.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bumblebee on Bee Balm

4 06 2011

Bee Balm (Monarda), also called wild bergamot, Oswego tea and horsemint, is an herbaceous perennial that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and other nectar-seeking creatures. Bee Balm flower colors include red, pink, white and lavender. Blooming early to late summer in full sun, Bee Balm grows two to four feet tall, multiplies readily and is easy to care for.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Love-in-a-Mist

19 05 2011

Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena) is a beautiful Victorian garden annual blooming in soft shades of blue, pink, white, and lavender. Because its fern-like leaves look similar to fennel, it has also been called fennel flower. This annual herbaceous plant is in the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae), readily self-seeds, and is common in old-fashioned cottage gardens. It grows in full sun to partial shade and blooms from late spring through fall. Nigella is short-lived, so for continuous bloom, repeat sowing every four weeks. You can cut and deadhead this plant to keep it flowering longer.

Photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Foxglove (Digitalis)

19 05 2011

As a biennial, Foxglove plants will only flower every other year. Biennials need more than one season to complete their growing and seed-producing cycle.

This plant is as poisonous as it is beautiful. The entire plant is toxic (roots, sap, flowers, seeds and leaves). The leaves of the upper stem are particularly potent—just a nibble is enough to cause death. I read that some people have been poisoned simply from inhaling the spores exuded by the seed pods that form in the fall. As much as I love the stately blooms, I wouldn’t plant it in my garden. It’s highly toxic to people and pets—and just brushing up against it can cause hives. Yes, many plants have some level of toxicity—but this is one that you really need to learn more about. I’m happy to just photograph it in public gardens (and keep my distance)!

Learn more about this plant, including details on its toxicity, here. Photographed at Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria, Virginia

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Oriental Poppy ‘Prince of Orange’

15 05 2011

Oriental Poppy (Papaver orientale) is a hardy perennial that grows in zones 4-9; not frost tender; herbaceous foliage; flowers late spring to early summer (some gardeners have reported reblooming in the fall); 18-24″ height with 8-10″ spread; partial shade to full sun and average to rich, well-drained soil; all parts are poisonous. The flowers are hermaphrodite (having both male and female organs) and are self-pollinated as well as pollinated by bees.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.