Middle South

June, 2003
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Bachelor Buttons
Some folks call these hardy annuals cornflowers, and they're also known as blue-bottles. The botanical name, Centaurea cyanus, translates as "blue centaur," and once upon a time all bachelor buttons were blue. But now you can grow them in lavender, pink, white, maroon, and several interesting bicolors, which often turn up when you allow plants to reseed in your garden.

Bachelor buttons have no pest problems, and I've seen seedlings survive winter nights that dropped to –15 degrees F. As an added bonus, goldfinches love to help harvest bachelor button seeds, which they often drop in hospitable places. Enjoy blooming bachelor buttons now, but wait until October to start a new planting.

Books

Flower Gardener's Bible
A flower gardener's education lasts a lifetime, so naturally you need a good book to help with your studies. I think The Flower Gardener's Bible, by Lewis and Nancy Hill (Storey Books, 2003, $27.50) is the best one to come along in years. Over 400 plants are profiled, and the suggestions for garden companions are always right on. This book also is heavy on how-to. It truly has it all!

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