Question: I sowed a wildflower mix I bought at a garden center. It has done well and has lots of things blooming now. Can you help me identify a flower in it? It has bright red or pink flowers with large, silky, delicate petals with white crosses at the center. The stems and foliage are kind of hairy. I have never seen these or some of the other flowers before. Are they actual wildflowers?
Answer: From your description, the mystery flowers sound like Shirley poppies. Shirley poppies are a type of corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) that has been bred for greater variation in color and form than that of the parent corn poppy with its red petals and black cross at the center.
Shirley poppies are easy to grow from seeds. Various colors and forms are readily available. September and October are good months for sowing. We have also known people having good luck with them by sowing them in February.
Many “wildflower mixes” contain non-native flowers and flowers that are not considered true wildflowers by most definitions. However, they can give the effect of a natural-appearing, diverse meadow of flowers. Perhaps a more accurate name for some of these mixes would be “meadow mix.”
A few flowers you often find included in these seed mixes are California poppy, Shirley poppy, corn poppy, cornflower/bachelor button, larkspur, cosmos, Queen Anne’s lace, black-eyed Susan, sweet William, coreopsis, calliopsis, wallflower, oxeye daisy, gloriosa daisy, gaillardia, catchfly, perennial flax, Indian primrose and yarrow. If you take samples or photos of your flowers to a garden center, a horticulturist there should be able to identify them for you.
Q: Where can I learn more about water conservation and drought restrictions, especially as they relate to my landscape?
A: An excellent source of information is the Georgia Water Smart website (www.georgiawatersmart.com). The website provides the rules about different drought levels and the counties involved. It also is an excellent source of information on how to save water inside and outside.
A few simple actions can save hundreds of gallons of water each month and save you money, too. Water is something we all use, but while there are more people using it every year, the overall supply does not increase. Problems with supply become more critical when we do not receive adequate rainfall. Water conservation should be a daily part of your life no matter where you live or whatever your occupation or lifestyle.
Those without internet access can find more information by writing the Georgia Urban Ag Council, Post Office Box 817, Commerce, GA 30529.
Q: Should I cut the cap off strawberries before I wash them and put them in the refrigerator?
A: Leave the caps on until after you wash the strawberries. Also, do not wash the berries until you are ready to use them. Washing them beforehand makes them more prone to spoiling.
To properly wash the strawberries, place them in a colander in or over a clean sink under running water from the tap or kitchen sink sprayer. If you don’t have a sprayer, wash and shake the berries under the tap by turning and gently shaking the colander as the water rinses the berries.
If you have questions about agriculture, horticulture, food safety or services or products regulated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, write Arty Schronce (email@example.com) or visit the department’s website at www.agr.georgia.gov.