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As a horticulturist, it is not too surprising that I love flowers. I almost always have something blooming inside and out, and right now there is a sea of blooms, and I couldn't be happier. I did get a beautiful bouquet of tulips for Easter,

and then a bright spring bouquet for my birthday.

Both are still going strong. Did you know that tulips are one of a few cut flowers that continue to grow after they are cut? If you want a tidy bouquet, you need to keep cutting them, or just let them grow and have a bit of an avant garde arrangement at the end.

It is interesting to see which variety is holding up the longest. The deep purple went first but these yellows are still pretty amazing. The first picture I showed was three days after I received them, and this latest picture is the 6th day. All I do is change the water.

With the mixed spring bouquet, I love the use of all the bright colors and variety of blooms,

from roses to gerber daisies, heath, carnations and lilies. More lily blooms open daily. As they open, I try to remove the pollen from the stamens.

While the deep color can add contrast to the blooms, if you get it on your clothing, it can stain. Any open blooms were pre-stripped before they were delivered, but I strip them myself as they open, using a tissue. Receiving flowers is a welcome gift that brings cheer inside for days.

But flowers aren't just showing off inside. I have plenty of blooms in the garden, and I am buying more. Even though I know they won't last long, I adore fuchsias and buy one or two each year.

They are gaudy as can be, but so intricate and textured. They are a showstopper in the garden. I put them on the deck in bright indirect light and enjoy them until the heat causes their demise. Last year one lingered or should I say malingered until mid August.

Azaleas have never been prettier and they have lasted longer than normal. I teach people to plant one or two harmonious color for the biggest impact, and in my own garden I have a rainbow of blooms. This light lavender one was actually a florist azalea I got when my Mother died (over 10 years ago).

They are typically not reliably winter hardy, but as you can see, this one not only survived the winters but has thrived. It will be getting a little haircut when it is done blooming. They are all growing in leaps and bounds.

I also have 4 or 5 varieties of Encore azaleas, the reblooming azaleas. My favorite is this variegated one Autumn Sunburst.

It is not as vigorous as the others, so I should have planted it closer to the front, but I do adore it. There are now 31 varieties of Encore azaleas. Winter hardiness does vary, but we can grow all of them from mid-Arkansas southward. In the northern tier 20 are recommended. Autumns: Amethyst, Fire, Royalty and Ruby are quite popular. Encore azaleas do need a bit more sun than spring only bloomers. I still try to give them morning sun or filtered sun, as full afternoon sun can be an issue with water needs and winter protection, but too much shade will lead to few blooms.

My roses are kicking into bloom, and there are loads of blooms on my red buckeye and Summer Snowflake viburnum.

I trim the buckeye back every year after bloom, leaving a few stalks to make seeds, but I like it to be full and bushy. It was a volunteer, and I don't need a tree next to the viburnum. It actually gives me more blooms every spring.

One of my favorite shade perennials is shining right now too. The cranesbill or hardy geranium is covered in blooms.

They come in shades of pink, purple and white, with some bicolors as well. Mine gets better each year and blooms even longer. People are surprised it is a geranium since it looks nothing like the annual flowering geranium many folks grow.

I am not a huge fan of the annual geranium, since I think they get weaker as the temperatures increase in the summer, but I do love the perennial ones. Not only are my perennials, trees and shrubs blooming, but even the fruits and vegetables are getting into the show. I have blooms on onions

and sage,

and the blackberry blooms are large and showy.

I am actually adding some onion and sage blooms into a salad I am taking to a dinner party tonight. Not only will they make the salad prettier, but add a subtle taste of onion and sage to the salad. I could add pansies and violas since they are in their glory right now, but even though they are considered edible, I personally don't think they have much taste.

I have so many more buds about to burst on roses, itea, calycanthus and more. Each day is like Christmas morning, seeing what new gift awaits. Walk your garden and see what gifts you have. And if you don't have any (or not enough--and is there really ever enough?) then go shopping, thousands of blooms await.

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