Seeing the snapdragon display at the nursery center reminded me of when I was a child and I played with my grandmother's bright-colored snapdragons. While pretending to be a dragon-slaying knight in shining armor, I'd pick the blossoms and then pinch their bases to snap the "jaws" up and down.
If my grandmother hadn't stopped me, I would have beheaded every snapdragon in her garden. But my grandmother was a clever caregiver, and knowing that I fearedbees, she warned me in a scolding tone to, "Watch out for thebees. They sleep inside snapdragon jaws."
Blooming in shades of blue, red, orange, yellow and white throughout the summer, snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are annuals belonging to the figwort family. Depending upon the variety, they have vertical flower spikes between 4 inches and 3 feet tall that produce cinnamon-scented blossoms resembling dragon heads.
This time of year, snapdragons can be purchased from garden centers in pots to be transplanted while in bud and in bloom.
Plant snapdragons 1 foot apart where they'll receive full sun and where soil stays moist yet drains freely.
Taller types look best when staked and positioned near the rears of borders.
By the way, while no one was watching, I couldn't resist snapping the jaws of some snapdragons at the garden center. But I also heeded my grandmother's warning and made certain that no bees were glaring back at me.
This week in the garden
My wife has nicknamed me Morticia — after the character from "The Addams Family" TV show that aired during the 1960s — ever since she watched me remove withered flowers from our reblooming rose bushes.
Morticia removed flowers from her rose bushes, too, but she removed fresh flowers prior to displaying the leftover, thorny stems as cut flowers.
Removing withered blossoms from reblooming plants is called dead-heading, and causes plants to rebloom sooner by interrupting the plant's reproductive cycle. Put simply, dead-heading causes a plant to stop producing seeds and to make additional seed-producing flowers instead.
While dead-heading our roses, I could have used a helping hand from Thing, the disembodied hand helped Morticia around the house. I had the next best thing, though: a pair of thick gloves.
Lou Boulmetis is a certified master gardener who lives in Littlestown, Pa. Call him at 1-888-727-4287 or email email@example.com.