By Helen Lang
Today I’d like to talk about a flower that was a favourite of my mother’s and now is one of mine — the zinnia.
It no longer seems to be popular and I can’t think why this should be so. Zinnias are dearly loved by both earwigs and slugs but that is a common enough problem that we have learned to deal with. It’s almost worth going to war with these pests because zinnias are so spectacular when in bloom.
Mother used to have a long bed, only about two feet wide, in full sun, which she used to plant with these beauties.
They were at the end of the garden and behind them there were evergreen trees so that they stood out like a members of a stage-show in Las Vegas. They come in brilliant colours: reds, yellows, oranges, purples, salmon and white. They stand up like soldiers on sturdy stems about 18 inches to two feet tall.
It is about time now to put in zinnia transplants as, they like a warm soil, and do nothing but sit and look into the distance if planted out too early. I think Mother grew ones called California Giants.
Always water them with the hose at ground level. They get mildew if their leaves stay wet for any length of time. Keep them well-watered and feed them with granular fertilizer with a high middle number (10-52-17 for example — the 52 encourages flowering.) They should contiue to bloom until late September or early October.
I have just had a phone call from Ann L. whom I haven’t seen since I had the garden shop in the parking lot of what is now Fairway Market.
She was one of my favorite customers and we became gardening friends. It was wonderful to talk to her again. She is still a mad-keen gardener so we had fun chatting. Also a call from Peter C. who had enjoyed last week’s column (nice to know that someone is still reading it). He was a good friend of my Jim (and mine, too, of course).
This column has been wonderful for me, thank you, my friends, for reading it.
Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 30 years.