May has arrived here in Eastern Iowa and this is my first experience planting a garden in Iowa. One of my greenhouses is finished and I have my roses from California growing in the enclosed room. I found that the Japanese beetle loves roses and so this will protect them from those pesky varmints!
In my sun room I am growing my orchids and plumeria from Hawaii. The orchids are thriving with the humidity in this room thanks to the indoor Koi pond. This is my favorite room in my house. I like to sit and listen to the waterfall while enjoying homemade ice tea.
To plant outdoors, I read several mid-western garden books. But I found that the best help was talking with the locals and looking to see what other people plant. Living in the forest, I have a lot of deer, racoons and birds. I am not sure how many berries from my berry garden I will actually enjoy, but if the deer and the birds eat all of the blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and blackberries, then I will plant some inside the greenhouse for myself.
The songbird garden has a variety of plants. I chose only those that can survive up to minus 30. I planted some apple trees and Norway spruce along with a beautiful red maple at the end of the garden. On the other side where the septic system is located, I planted wildflower seeds as I am trying to create a wildflower meadow. I have placed a variety of songbird houses throughout the garden and of course bird food containers. The finches have already found the thistle and like to hang from the netting.
My herb garden is in pots on the upper deck. I figure this way I might have better control with the racoons and also it is easy access to my kitchen. This year I planted orange mint. I have chocolate mint and I enjoy orange mint tea. I plan to dry the leaves and make my own tea.
Another great plant I have this year is the Stevie plant. As a diabetic, this will provide a natural sweetener for my cooking.
It will be interesting to see what survives and what is destroyed by the elements. Many of the plants here are foreign to me. In California I never heard of hostas, but here they are a staple in any garden. The Dubuque arboretum has a phenomenal hosta garden. I would encourage any gardener in the area who has not had the pleasure of touring the gardens of the arboretum to take the time to visit. It gave me many ideas and helped me learn the types of plants that work well in this climate and some of the challenges like working with the clay in the soil here.
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