Gardening Tales

Workhorse Plants For Your Garden

June 09, 2017
I am a gardener and creator at heart and it seems that I have been this way since childhood.
Thoughts of gardening are frequently on my mind and I am already planning for the next season. Some of my best inspiration for decorating, crafting as well as creating develop when I am in the gardens. It seems to me the wide variety of natural colors, variation of textures, the pungent earthy scent of Mother Nature ignite a creative passion within me. I will always believe in my heart that this gift of creativity came from growing up on our farm in Idaho, it appears that I was the female version of Tom Sawyer.
Making mud pies, scampering along the river banks and watching my Mother and Father create were some of my favorite pastimes.

I urge you too, to spend some time with Nature it is truly good for the soul.

I am often times asked what to plant in a garden that will grow, that really is the key isn't it!
So, for today let us concentrate on some easy, reliable workhorse plants for your garden.

I have always enjoyed having fresh flowers in our home year around and there is just not any greater joy for a gardener than to be able to cut their own fresh flowers from their garden.
Today I have chosen two dependable, fast growing, productive, easy to harvest and relatively low maintenance flowers to share with you.
Who can resist the charm and cheery presence of the dependable Sunflower.
For many gardeners this was their first love and took them from a novice gardener to pro in just a few years.
Let us begin with the single stem sunflower.
Attributes of  Single Stem Sunflower

TIP: Plant sunflower seeds in 2-3 week intervals for continued blooms all Summer.

  • Quality 
  • Reliable
  • Sturdy
  • Single large Bloom
  • Cut flower lasts 7-10 Days
  • Attributes of Branching Stem Sunflower
  • Multiple Blooms per plant
  • Diversity of shape, color and size of bloom

Oh the ambitious heart of the zinnia, always eager to share it's showy blossoms and steadily unyielding in most climates.
Simply grown from seeds with the ability to reseed year after year is a joy to behold in the garden. Powdery mildew and Alternaria  is their worst enemy.
Follow this link above for tips on how to control these problems.

Attributes of The Zinnia

  • Fabulous and Brilliant Color
  • Size and Shape 
  • Bloom Time Early Summer to Fall
  • Cut Flowers last 7-10 days
My girls frequently ask me what to plant in their vegetable gardens.
So I thought I would share some easy vegetable garden favorites, these choices will uplift the novice and thrill the pro.
With just a couple of squash and tomato plants along with some onions you are well on your way to a variety of recipes, or as I call them one pot wonders! 
Our diet is definitely veggie infused. SMILES!

The Vegetable Garden and one of my favorite all time quotes from the enlightened Voltaire.

"We must cultivate our own garden. When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest."
~ Voltaire


Growing A Gorgeous Tomato:

  • 6-8 hours of sunshine to enhance their flavor.
  • In hot climates afternoon shade is welcomed.
  • Stake, trellis or cage to keep them off the ground and implement before they get too big.
  • Water well during growing season.
  • Perfect time to pick tomato is when it is still firm, and red.


Growing Squash:

  • Squash is seasonal.
  • Susceptible to heat and frost.
  • There are many  varieties of squash (this is Crookneck Squash.)
  • Easy to grow.
  • Fast to mature.
  • Delicious steamed or sauteed.
  • Watch out for Squash Vine Borer.

Growing Onions:

  • Onion Varieties depending on your location.
  • Yellow-Sweet Spanish in the North.
  •  Stuttgarter best in the South.
  • One inch of water a week, more water the sweeter the onion.
  • Well drained soil.
  • Fertilize every few weeks to get big bulbs.
  • Harvest time when tops turn brown and fall over.
  • Let them cure on dry ground for a few days before storing.

Thank you for joining me today and I'd love to hear from you on your favorite garden choices.
See you back tomorrow for 10 on the Tenth where I will be sharing a nifty way to use fabric!

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  1. I'm not sure I have any favorites but I would have to say my herbs are number one over growing any vegetable or flower. This is probably because they add so much texture and amazing shades of green that I can also bring into the home and kitchen. Great ideas and your harvest looks wonderful.

    Hope you have a great weekend,

    1. Carole,
      I agree, Herbs are amazing and all of the attributes that you just mentioned are so true. I am actually becoming quite obsessed with adding them to so many of our dinner dishes and of course they add such a nice garnish too!

  2. Such beautiful and inspiring garden photos. Your gardens are stunning!!

    1. Good Morning Stacey,
      I am looking out my window right now at your new home, future yard and gardens. You are going to create such a beautiful addition to our neighborhood. Yes, I am wild over gardening, creating and being surrounded by the beauty of nature!

  3. Ok, so how did I not know you and Stacey were going to be neighbors?! Shut the front door!! How cool is that? I really need to get out of this shell I've apparently been living in lately :/.

    I've tried to grow sunflowers but failed. They're so pretty and I would love to have some because they just make me smile :). See? ;)

    Send some sun our way Jemma!


    1. Good Morning Doreen!
      Happy gardening to you no matter where you will be living! Sunshine and sunflowers are on their way:)!!

  4. What a great post, Jemma. I grow tons of herbs, tomatoes, lettuce and this year pumpkins and brussels sprouts. Rick has spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, peppers and b-sprouts. It makes for great salads, to be sure! My flowers? Mostly in pots (bad dirt) but oh, how I love them.

    Thanks for the tips and links. I have zinnias in ground this year and someone likes eating them. Bunny, probably, who knows. I'd love it if they reseeded!

    1. Oh Jeanie, what a fabulous selection of gardening goodies. There is not one thing better in this world than to dine on fresh pickings from the garden! Enjoy each and every morsel!

  5. Yay, I was so glad to see a post today .😊 Love your gardening tips dear Jemma . We are enjoying some squash and they have been plentiful for us this season . One of my favorite flowers to grow is sunflowers too I usually grow from seeds and get them going so I can enjoy in early fall . They remind me of my sweet motherinlove who went to be with the Lord a few years ago . I hope you have s great day dear friend . Hugs and blessings. Cindy

    1. Oh you are so kind! Thank you:) Well it surely sounds like your garden is off and running too. Those squash are something else aren't they? Such a prolific vegetable ( I am putting them in everything!) What sweet memories you have too of days gone by and missing those that we love so much!

  6. Oh how this post makes my heart so happy! ❤I could think about flowers & plants of all types all day & be content! After relandscaping our new to us home this spring, I am happy with the new look but it's still a work in progress, for sure! For color I chose geraniums, potato vines, periwinkles, hibiscus, daylillies & some herbs! All showy & hardy in the summer sun ( with watering). Most are planted in pots to escape the bunnies! I have 1 tomato plant in a pot but it's not very happy. I atleast have to have one for when my nieces come. They like picking things & expect me to have a garden! Maybe next year I'll get more in for summer. Happy Gardening!

    1. Happy Gardening to you to my friend! Gardens make us happy don't they? I suppose that is one reason why we love the Dallas Arboretum so much. I just know how pretty your yard is becoming, you have always had a green thumb and you are a Master Gardener too! Oh your little nieces will love plucking those tomatoes. Once we get more sunshine and drier weather I am sure she will shape up and start producing in full force.

  7. Believe it or not, Jemma, I have never planted zinnias! I have had volunteer sunflowers, much to my delight. I don't do vegetables, but your trio would feed me well if I did! Have a great weekend.

    1. Hi Rita,
      Well I have been sort of forced into it because they actually thrive in our Texas landscape. It takes a hardy flower to blossom with zest and zeal in 100 degree temps!

  8. Great post! I wish I had a spot with full sun that I could grow a lot of sunflowers! Zinnias are great because you can save the seed and grow more! I had a vegetable garden a long time ago but I had a big spread with lots of sun. There is nothing like pulling out carrots that you've grown or have fresh green beans!

    1. Hi Liz,
      Well we really get way too much sun, so I am learning to deal with that and it hasn't been easy. Our Texas sun blazes from daylight to dark and my garden spot receives it all. In fact I am just about to be done with vegetable gardening as the heat will take it all out.

      I agree a vegetable garden is pure pleasure!

  9. Hi Jemma, I love your pretty garden and all of your tips. I love your tomatoes and the sunflowers. I am so late this year as it's been cold here. I hope to have some tomatoes by August.
    Have a nice weekend.

    1. Hi Julie,
      Thanks so much! It is shining right now and I am holding onto each moment. Once July and August arrive it pretty much gets tired and quits!

  10. Love this post. You are probably like me and love going through your gardening books and magazines and just dream of adding more and more plants and beauty to your landscape. We have such a short growing season here though...Three maybe part of a fourth month if we are lucky.

    I hope you have a wonderful weekend-xo Diana

  11. I LOVED seeing all the beautiful photos of the "fruits" of your labors! It is always such a joy to come here and visit with you...I always leave encouraged. Sending love and gratitude to you, sweet friend. :)

  12. You started this great post with two of my favorites....sunflowers and zinnia's. I was planning on putting the two together in one garden but ended up just planting zinnia's. I will have to plant the sunflowers next year. Lots of great ideas for planting here...thank you!

  13. Sunflowers and zinnias! Love their cheerful blooms! And squash and garden tomatoes - yum! Nothing better! Can't wait until I can have a big garden!


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