Hello, again!

When I plant flowers in my landscape, I tend to go with some sort of a color scheme. Always the brighter the better. I’ve done yellow and red combinations in the past, as well as orange. One thing I also like to do is plant a large var iety of plants.
Annuals are great. For the most part, they are plants that bloom soon after planting until our killing frost around the first part of November. Perennials have a place in my garden as well. My hostas have been great performers in the shade part of the back yard year after year. The occasional hail can mess with them, but they come out of it pretty well.

We are seeing a resurgence in the planting of var ious types of gardens. It's like going back to WWI and WWII with Victory Gardens where citizens were using every available space they could to grow food. At that time, there was a need to supplement the national food supply as well as build morale. People today are not only planting to grow their own vegetables, but also to help increase pollinators, which play a vital part in our ecosystem and are necessary for the pollination of fruits and vegetables.

There are a few other things I think about when deciding what to plant. Since it's not only for a succession of blooms throughout the growing season, I try to select a diverse range of flower shapes, sizes and colors to attract a wide range of pollinators - bees or butterflies. I like to plant in masses. Even 3-5 square feet works to attract pollinators. Once I've picked these out, I add native plants to the mix.  
You know my love for the Flint Hills. I call it the most scenic spot on earth. Not only are the geological formations amazing in the area, but the plants are the real attraction for me. Our Kansas natives are tough plants. They thrive on drought, so don’t over water them. They also play an important role as a food source for beneficial insect larvae. My favorite of the bunch is Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Milkweed. See this excerpt from The Pocket Guide to the Flint Hills:
'Butterflies of all kinds perch on the flowers to sip nectar. The milkweed flower is highly specialized and unique. A vertical slit in the flower allows an insect’s foot to slip inside. When the insect pulls its foot loose, it dislodges a saddlebag-like structure with two pollen sacs attached. The pollen, still attached to the insect’s leg, is carried to the next plant and deposited when one of the pollen sacs slips inside the flower crevice.' 
The butterfly milkweed grows 18-24” tall with yellow, orange or red-orange flowers in clustered showy heads. If I'm the one to help you in the perennial department at the store, I will insist on you taking one home.  
Another favorite native is Oenothera macrocarpa or Missouri evening-primrose. This low growing perennial blooms yellow flowers which open in the evening and wither by noon of the following day. The flowers are pollinated at night by sphinx moths. Missouri evening-primrose is found on shallow, rocky soil on prairies and bare roadside cuts - the toughest spot in the Flint Hills!
There are so many options for planting a Pollinator Victory Garden 2.0. Many of our plants are labeled with desired location and what pollinators they will attract.
 
I’m excited to see many new people planting gardens. My wish is that they see how easy it is to grow some of their own food, in the ground or in containers on their patio. It also makes me happy to see kids getting involved in gardening with their families. It's a joy to see the smiles on their faces when they see the plants grow and produce something to eat. 
 
One of our packaged seed suppliers, Botanical Interests, is allowing us to donate last year's seeds for worthy causes. We see no better group to give flower, vegetable or pollinator seeds to than kids who come into our stores. If you bring the kids in, we'll let them pick out what seeds they would like to plant.
And if you're so inclined, post a photo of them in the garden on Instagram and tag your photo with #everykidinagarden. We'd love to see what they're planting!


Your friend in the garden,
Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center