Monday, March 8, 2010

Tea-themed plants & gardening

After buying three teacup African violets at the Southeastern Flower Show last month, I am pleased to report that two of them are still living. The pink and burgundy ones are still in full bloom, but the purple one, alas, has been called home to glory, so I am now going to try growing my own from seed after seeing this attractive listing in the new Park Seed catalog.

I was delighted to find the seeds in this catalog, since seeds cost much less than the $6 I have paid for each miniature violet so far this year. I did find a replacement teacup violet at Pike Nurseries in Peachtree City, a frilly white one that caught my fancy, but growing them myself seems like a fun challenge.

I'm really thinking it is going to be a good idea to learn to grow my own plants from seed. Local discount stores have these small "greenhouses" for sale rather inexpensively, and I think it will be time to start some seedlings in another week or two.

Herbs are also on my wish list of things to grow, and I was pleased to see Park Seed offers an Herbal Tea Collection of seed packets.

My wintertime reading has consisted largely of gardening books this year, including the wonderful "Onward and Upward in the Garden" by Katharine White, a New Yorker editor, amateur gardener, and the wife of author E.B. White. The book is a collection of her New Yorker gardening columns from the fifties and sixties. Her passion for gardening catalogs is contagious, and I found myself ordering quite a few of them. I requested some familiar ones -- David Austin Roses, Burpee, White Flower Farm, Jackson and Perkins (J&P hasn't arrived yet) -- as well as some new ones to me: Bluestone Perennials, Old House Gardens, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Seeds of Change, Harris Seeds, Klehm's Song Sparrow, and Annie's Annuals and Perennials, a delightful catalog recommended by a cyber friend in San Francisco. I'll try a few things in pots and a small flower garden this year, and my husband is going to plant a vegetable garden. (I have been asked to find a really good heirloom tomato variety. Any suggestions? The catalogs make them all sound good!)

Flowers, of course, excite me most! Here is the Tea Clipper rose in the new David Austin Roses book. I may request some of these for my May birthday this year.

White Flower Farm is one of several sources I've found for this "Sweet Tea" heucherella, a foliage plant. I love the color *and* the name!

Fellow flower lovers may also be interested in this Earl Grey Larkspur and the Teatime Four O'Clocks, both from Renee's Garden. I will also attempt to grow camellia sinensis again this year, since I think I know what I did wrong last time I tried. (My seeds weren't properly prepared.) Are any of you getting ready to garden this year? I'd love to know what you'll be planting in your neck of the woods, and I'd *really* love it if you'd send along the names of any more tea-themed plants I can add to my wish list!


  1. You ARE a woman after my own heart. You definately have the same ideas as I for this spring. I've been contemplating my own little garden this year with herbs & other eatables in a raised bed... maybe. I just have to find the time. Ha! I'll look forward o hearing more on yours.
    FYI- Did you know that we're hosting a Beth Moore event on April 24th at MCBC? Sign up ends this week.

  2. Ah 2 out of 3 isn't bad! Park seeds is a great catalog. We have several garden centers in the area, so I don't order so much from catalogs anymore. I enjoy going to the garden centers. I don't have luck starting things from seeds though.

  3. I enjoy getting free seed catalogs
    in the mail !

  4. Great post, Angela! Can't you just feel 'spring in the air?'
    Thanks for sharing, looking forward to your updates!
    Have a great day,

  5. "Sweet Tea" heucherella, oh that one is the one I want. We just planted two more tea plants, so I have a plantation now of four plants. I wonder what kind of harvest I will get.

    I always plant for herbal teas, lemon verbena. Then there are always eatable flowers for serving in salads and tea sandwiches, such as: nasturtiums, marigolds, eatable chrysanthemums, violets.

  6. I love gardening, and am looking forward to getting my garden ready for spring. Here in SoCal, it's been very cold (for us!) and rainy lately but when it warms up I'll add to my herb garden with plants of basil and dill to join the mint, rosemary and chives that are already there. I'll also put in some cherry tomato plants and an heirloom variety or two. That, along with tending my 60 roses, the succulent garden and our fruit trees will keep me busy!

  7. This is the second year we have ordered seeds from Baker Creek. We have been extremely happy with their customer service and the quality of their seeds. Their paper catalog is a work of art-beautiful photos. Enjoy.

  8. Interesting to see all the plants with tea theme names. That white teacup violet is so pretty. I also really like that Tea Clipper rose - gorgeous color.

    I'm not a gardener, but I would like to plant basil and cherry tomatoes in pots (or a raised bed). There's nothing like bruschetta or homemade pesto sauce.

  9. Good luck with your seeds. For some reason I never have good luck with seeds, I think I water them too much or something. I usually do fine with plants. Herbs are pretty easy to grow, you should have a great crop for tea drinking this summer.

  10. If you learn any essential tips in starting your own plants from seeds, I'd love to hear them! I've tried to grow herbs from seeds before (using one of those little greenhouse things, in fact), and only ended up with mold. Good luck!


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