I’ll admit it, flowers are an afterthought around our house. Not quite as much of an afterthought as our hardly-ever-get-pruned shrubs, but an afterthought, nonetheless. I guess it’s because the vegetables we grow feed us year round. So they get first dibs on the greenhouse space in the spring, and veggie seedlings end up taking over every available surface. The vegetable seeds and transplants also get all our attention and energy until all 30+ rows are planted. It’s only then that we look around and decide that our green and brown gardens need a shot of color, and we make our annual flower pilgrimage to our local garden center.

Every year find myself completely overwhelmed by the selection, because I know so little about flowers and never take the time to do research in advance. What grows tall? What spreads really wide? What blooms when? And with a husband and two kids in tow, who has time to read all those little plant labels for half the morning? It doesn’t help that we’re usually there on a Saturday when the staff is overwhelmed with gardeners asking for advice. It doesn’t seem right to me to monopolize their time when I couldn’t even be bothered to run a basic Google search before my shopping trip.

So in the end, we buy a few tried & true, cost-effective blooms to bring home. We pick some petunias and grab some geraniums and snap up a couple snapdragons, and call it a day. The girls are in charge of repotting them in our half-dozen big outdoor planters. Once the hanging baskets go on sale, we’ll pick up a couple of those for the front porch, too. If I’m being honest, I’m overly-thrifty when it comes to aesthetic vs. edible plants. I always gripe “flowers are so expensive, we should have started some from seeds,” but until this year, I never got my act in order in time.

This spring the girls and I collected interesting-looking flower seeds as we saw them. Once the vegetable seeds were planted, we brought a couple extra shelves into the greenhouse to make space to start flowers, too. Marigolds to bring the good bugs to the garden, violets to remind me of Ohio, Alyssum to try in our hanging baskets. And Teddy Bear sunflowers. Someone gave my parents a bag of seed, and they had so many complements on these big, fluffy sunflowers that they saved seed to send to me, too.