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If garden beginners knew in advance all the troubles in their way, they might never begin...

~Celia Thaxter~

Old but not forgotten

January for gardeners is the month of looking through catalogs that promise color and beauty for the coming season. It's the month for making lists of seeds to order, plants to buy and projects to tackle for 2009.

The list of new plants for 2009 is long. There's the first ever-blooming lacecap hydrangea 'Twist-n-Shout' and all the new perennials, from tomato red echinacea to lemon yellow gaillardia and lime green heuchera. No matter if your gardening in shade or sun, Seattle or Miami, there's something new for everyone's garden!

With so much emphasis and advertising concentrated on new, I am going to focus this month newsletter on old plant varieties.


Cleome or nigella, that's a tough decision. Both are generally left out in seed catalogs and no matter how hard you look in the box store selections, they can't be found. Maybe it's because both of these are such prolific self-seeders and refuse to stay in neat rows. Nigella delights in early summer while cleome is the star of late summer and early fall.
If you like to garden outside the lines, then consider one or both of these, I promise, you can't go wrong!

Edible Biannual

Black Salsify, what more can I say? You probably have never heard of it, much less eaten this root vegetable. Popular in Europe, no home vegetable garden in Germany is without it and it's available in any grocery store in the fall. Consider giving this plant a spot in your garden, the yellow flowers are quite attractive in the summer and the roots are very tasty when steamed with a nutty flavor and firm texture. Young leaves and flowers can also be added to salads.
If you have a little spot available, I can highly recommend trying this vegetable. No matter where we take cooked salsify, they are the first item gone from the buffet and even fussy eaters come back for seconds!


This was an easy one: English wallflower. Why they have fallen from favor is a mystery to me, maybe because there's nothing shy about them?
Evergreen, compact and loaded with fragrant blooms in all colors of the rainbow in early spring, what more can one ask for?

Happy 2009, may the new year bring you health and happiness and may you enjoy a carpet of blooms this season.


January in the Garden:

Love-in-a-Mist Seeds
Salsify Seeds;
Wallflower Seeds