The 40×40 Flower Project is my personal quest to grow 40 different varieties of flowers from seed or bulb by my 40th birthday. Inspired by a video I caught online a while ago, in which Chris Guillebeau was being interviewed about his book, The Happiness of Pursuit. His words made so much of an impact on me, that soon the concept for my personal quest was born.
Gardens are not created or made, they unfold, spiraling open
like the silk petals of an evening primrose flower to reveal the
ground plot of the mind and heart of the gardener
and the good earth.
– Wendy Johnson, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, 2000
40×40 Flower Project Updates
I believe life gets better with age. I’ll freely admit that I will be turning 40 in January of 2017. So, that means I aim to have grown 40 different flowers by that date! I started this project in 2014, and if you’ve been keeping up with me or read a little about my gardening journey, you’ll know that I’ve only been trying out my green thumb since 2013.
It’s been a humbling experience so far. I live in upstate New York, where the weather is often unpredictable… and that’s putting it nicely. 😉
The Spring of 2015 was challenging.
A late May frost (like, after Memorial Day weekend!) halted the growth of seeds I had sown mid-month, after I had waited the whole month of April to see temps rise enough to poke them into the soil. The setback was disappointing and the growing season seemed to get off to a slow start.
** I made a mental note to try my hand at sowing seeds indoors next year. **
Eventually, Spring perennials that I had planted as bulbs the previous Fall sprouted and bloomed in magnificent succession. Grape Hyacinths, Tahitian Daffodils and my favorite Spring flower to date; Queen of Night Tulips. (I nicknamed them My Goth Tulips.)
I replanted annual seeds for Summer in early to mid-June.
By the Summer Solstice, I had a few new beauties rising up from the soil, and blossoming in the sunlight. I selected a couple of quick growing veggie garden helpers; Borage and Peach Melba Nasturtium. They filled in my existing garden beds nicely. I planted so many of them that it became quite a learning experience. The borage I planted near the front of my small hummingbird garden space rapidly grew so tall that it was shading other plants behind it. And the nasturtium was growing wildly well with my lettuce and dill, but plaguing other areas of the garden with black aphids.
** I’ll need new strategies when planting those next year! **
In Midsummer, California Poppies are booming, but they are all yellow! The seed packet showed all kinds of colors, so I was expecting more than just one color, but that’s ok. They are still pretty little things!
Cactus Flowered Zinnias are beginning to bloom. I’ve got them flourishing with their unmistakable foliage in all of my flower beds.
The Purple Coneflower Echinacea that I planted from seed last year obviously needed a while to feel at home in the soil. I thought I had done something wrong when I saw only green leaves and no flowers last year, but little did I know, this is the way of perennial flowers. Fortunately, they are hardy and have really blossomed into tall, showy stalks that the butterflies are loving!
While they have yet to burst into bloom, the Moonflower and Scarlet O’Hara Morning Glory vines are climbing my lamp posts. I’m infatuated with the heart-shaped leaves and I’m anxiously awaiting this flowering pair!
I planted a few Summer blooming lily bulbs; Casa Blanca and Stargazer Lilies. Keeping the deer away from them has been trying, but I’ve finally got big tight buds on them. I’ve got the vase ready for when these babies bloom! They are my all-time favorite cut flowers!
** Stay tuned for more updates on my progress! **
Read more about my flower gardening journey & the 40×40 Flower Project: