Butterfly weed’s bright orange blossoms are so striking, though in our garden this flower seems to be more enticing to bees than butterflies.

honeybee on butterfly weed

Every year it starts forming seed pods before I think it should. The orange has been replaced by 35 seed pods (and counting).

six butterfly weed seed pods

But we got a surprise this week: a few new buds opened up alongside the seed pods.

butterfly weed in bud and in seed

Summer isn’t quite over yet.

My cousin gave away packets of wildflower seeds at her wedding reception a year ago.

two wildflower seed packets

I waited patiently all fall and winter to plant them this spring. Just one packet held what seemed like hundreds of seeds − probably too many for this flower box, but I spread them all in the dirt anyway.

a lot of seeds on top of dirt

It didn’t take long for the first shoots to poke out of the ground.

tiny flowers

I don’t know the names of most of these flowers, but I’m really enjoying them.

pink flowers

bright flowers

It’s been fun to see all the different varieties bloom and fade, only to be replaced by others.

blue bee


Just when I think there can’t be any more, two or three new ones emerge.

five flowers

dark pink flower

It’s interesting to note how certain flowers like the red poppies are mostly on the left side of the planter, while others like the blue flowers gravitated to the other end.

flower box

Love is blooming.

Not every flower in our garden is bigger than last year. While the snowdrop anemone, columbine, and iris quadrupled in size this spring, our candytuft is about half the size it was in 2013.

This one is my fault. At the very beginning of spring, I got a tad overzealous in trimming away the foliage that I thought was dead. When it was too late, I realized my mistake. See the difference from 2013 to 2014:

candytuft comparison: 2013 vs. 2014

It’s not easy for me to practice patience, but I’m learning.

Plant source: Gertens

Linder’s garden center closed this fall after more than 100 years in St. Paul.

Plants growing in a garden: coreopsis, maroon coral bells, candytuft, wild geranium.

I won’t pretend that this is the only place I shop. In the Twin Cities area we’re fortunate to also have Gertens, Bachman’s, new-to-me Prairie Restorations in Princeton, the annual Friends School Plant Sale, and many more that I have yet to explore.

But this was my year-round neighborhood nursery.

Flowers growing in a garden: indigo, a single yellow flower, New England aster, pink turtlehead.

We received Linder’s gift cards as wedding and Christmas presents, and spent quite a bit of our own money there too. I never could seem to remember to bring back the empty pots or the carry-out boxes.

Five cardboard trays and two stacks of empty plastic plant pots.

We mostly bought perennials, trending the last year toward all natives.

Flowers in a garden: anemone, prairie smoke, evening primrose.

Also a couple of annuals each spring.

A pot with pink, purple, and yellow flowers; red cardinal climber flower vining up a trellis; orange marigold.

Grapes we planted just this summer.

A small grape plant next to a trellis.

And tomatoes: the first year we were married, we bought two six-packs, not realizing just how many tomatoes that would produce!

Tomato plants, small tomato growing on the plant, a row of various shades of tomatoes on a windowsill.

Seeds to grow our own annuals and perennials.


Not to mention seed for our “birdfeeder.”

A chipmunk with stuffed cheeks, sitting on the edge of a birdfeeder.

We also took advantage of their classes. A year ago we attended a fall workshop to learn how to deal with Japanese beetles, and early this spring took a “From Seed to Planting” seminar. We participants got an impromptu tour of the greenhouses to see all the newborn seedlings. By the next day, I was already looking forward to taking that tour again next spring.

Trays and trays of seedlings in a greenhouse.

Goodbye to the 53 flower marts in grocery store and mall parking lots around the Twin Cities. Goodbye to fun fundraising opportunities for nonprofits, which received 15% of the pre-tax purchase amount their supporters spent on spring flowers. Goodbye to Lil Linder’s cheerful voice on the radio commercials, and the “Get growing now with Linder’s” jingle. Goodbye to dashing in for last-minute Christmas gifts. I already miss you.

The sign outside Linder's showing the messages 'Store Closed' and 'Thank you for the memories.'

Even as most of our flowers were winding down for the year, some took advantage of the early October rain and unseasonably warm weather to come back to life.

Like the geranium, which bloomed in spring and again in late summer…


The white coneflower, which was eaten by rabbits in the spring before it could bloom and finally decided to try again…

coneflower bud

The tomatoes, which did produce lots of fruit during the normal growing season and tried again anyway…

tomato flower

A sunflower that sprouted extra blooms after the main flower head had gone to seed…

sunflower buds growing at the base of each leaf

The broccoli, which didn’t make any progress until October…

broccoli plant

The dahlia that didn’t even send up leaves until late August…

dahlia buds

And the feverfew that has been blooming all season long.

feverfew flowers