Category Archives: seeds

Spring sowing

Poppies, both buttercream and the classic WWI variety, were a great success, sowed in late February and blooming in mid- to late May.red poppies

buttercream poppiesMeanwhile, as you can see from the fallen petals above, the columbines self-sowed with great vigor.  You would hardly know that the great culling of 2016 had ever taken place!  Here’s the sunny garden, still chock full of blue columbines (plus the purple allium ‘Sensation,’ I think).blue columbines I am continuing to pull them out once they’ve seeded, so I’m probably not making much progress…  I do try to shake the interesting colored ones, like this white one, in hopes that they’ll spread and grow next year.white columbine

Additional seeds are sugar snap ‘Anna,’ doing very well this year after a slow start (I sowed them in February but they didn’t do anything for about a month); zinnias and cosmos; and some vines for the trellises.  They’re up but not doing much yet.

A tropical spring

 

palm-treesIt’s not even the end of February, but we’ve already had several days in the 60’s, and today is predicted to be in the 70’s, for heaven’s sake.  Meanwhile, the ground is as dry as dust, as I know from having seeded a few favorites yesterday and today.

I’ve had mediocre luck with the incredibly easy sugar snap peas the last few years, but I’m trying yet again.  I have Sugar Ann left over from last year (Roxbury sells loose seed, and the smallest amount you can get is a quarter pound @ $1.50).  I sowed it very thickly in the raised bed in hopes that half of it will germinate.  Here’s what it will look like if all goes well.sugar-ann-2

The rest are annuals that like cool weather, too.  California poppies ‘Buttercream’ at one end of the sunny border, Shirley poppies in shades of pink and red by the mailbox, and sweet peas ‘Cutting Bouquet’ in the same bed as the sugar snaps.  They may all look like this.  (Thanks to the web for these images.)

Thanks again to Adrian Higgins who recommended sowing poppies in February.  It certainly worked last year!

The Great Culling of 2016

Years and years ago, Mom gave me some of her columbines, mostly blue, and they happily grew and self-seeded throughout the garden.  The bees love them (as you can see below), they provide a sea of blue in April and May, and they fill in lots of gaps.

Bees on the columbine

Bees on the columbine

But this year I looked around and realized that the columbines had taken over.  They were EVERYWHERE, leaving no room for what had been purposely planted and no room for any new plantings or annual seedlings.  Time for the great culling!

I learned quickly that although they have self-seeded, many must have come back every year, digging their fleshy roots even deeper into the ground.  Here’s just one pile of uprooted plants, sent to the compost pile (where they will doubtless self-seed again).columbines in compost

If you look closely, you can see how big some of those roots are.

I started in the sunny border, then moved on to the front side garden (underneath the bedroom windows) and finally turned to the walkway garden.  To see what a difference it makes, here is a before picture of the walkway garden:columbines before

All those upright stems are seedheads, ready to start the cycle over again.  But after the culling you see this:after columbines

I’ve planted three Juno hostas and you can actually see them now.  The calla lilies, which I got as a freeby with a bulb order years ago, have room to grow and might even bloom this year.  The bare ground I’ve sowed with zinnias in hopes that they will fill in and add some color.  A very satisfactory result.

Not again!

It has been raining almost every day for about a month, and we are sick of it, as you can see from this extremely witty Facebook post.just-walking-my-fish

 

Even someone like me, who welcomes a rainy day as an excuse to quilt and read, is getting weary.  We had one sunny day last week, and the air was ringing with the sounds of lawn mowers.  I was able to edge the sunny border, fighting with the witch grass all the way, and started to replenish the soil in the newly installed raised bed.  Rainy today, Sunday, and predicted to go on until some time on Tuesday.  And to top it off, we are still in a rain deficit for the year!

On another note, garden bloggers’ Bloom Day has come and gone yet again without a post from me.  Here is a reconstruction, and a list from 2014 (another of those pieces of paper that floats around the kitchen counter until needed).

Early May 2014

  • Cherokee phlox
  • False Solomon’s seal
  • Ghostly bulb in white garden
  • small white allium
  • hellebores
  • mazus reptans
  • bluebells
  • tulips (going by)
  • columbine and wild columbine
  • sweet woodruff
  • Topolino (I think) daffodil in sunny bordertopolino
  • tiarella
  • euphorbia
  • vinca
  • sorrel
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • dandelions
  • Viburnum ‘Shasta’ and neighbor’s pink dogwood
  • bleeding hearts (white and red)
  • white azalea
  • garlic mustard
  • geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s variety’
  • bugleweed
  • lily of the valley
  • pink azalea
  • coral bells
  • Sun Dial narcissus
  • pansies

This year is much the same, except that mid-May this year found nary a trace of the mazus and wild columbine, both lamented.  I think the hellebores might have crowded out the columbine.  The Topolino daffodil again was the last to bloom and is most welcome.

‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is in bloom, as gorgeous and over the top as ever.

2016 peony

Equally magnificent in a very different way is the Jack in the pulpit that either Becky or Judy passed along to me.  It seems to be very happy in this cool, wet spring. Jack in the pulpit

Thanks to advice from Adrian Higgins, I sowed my Shirley poppy seeds in February and hoped for the best.  They were just lying around, so why not give it a go? Lo and behold, it worked!  poppy

This gorgeous red is a good contrast with the blue columbines that have taken over the garden (their days are numbered if it ever dries out a bit).

Working on the weekend

Four days in a row, and the most spectacular weather, meant there were no excuses for not getting into the garden. In no particular order:

  • re-edged the back garden, laying down landscape cloth, re-positioning the rocks, and re-mulching
  • edged and weeded the back corner garden and laid mulch – next, to move the volunteer black-eyed Susans toward the back of the bed and continue weeding, also prune the forsythiaDSC03636
  • planted containers, which is not my strength despite knowing the mantra of thrillers, spillers and fillersDSC03633
  • weeded the sunny bed, edged and mulched – the morning glory is a particularly vigorous variety that self-sows everywhere, this fall be sure to cut it back before it goes to seed
  • Planted the following annuals:  Lemon Gem marigold, Tithonia ‘Torch,’ and cornflower ‘Emperor William’ in the sunny bed, hoping at least a few will take

 

Still to do:  plant nicotiana seed in the terrace beds, plant vines around mailbox and in front of rose(-less) trellis, clean up mailbox bed, plus a ton of other things too numerous to mention.  There is one more day to the weekend, so there’s hope!

Seeds – ordering, not starting

A couple years ago I did a big seed order and started lots of seeds indoors.  Truly, lots of work and not such a big jump on the season that it made a huge difference, in my estimation.  So this year I decided to, first, do an inventory of what I already had (brilliant plan), then, choose seeds that could mostly be sowed outdoors, and finally, that I actually had a spot for (brilliant plans  two and three).

Above is the array of seed catalogs and reference books I used to select what will again be too many seeds.  And yes, the selecting is at least as much fun as actually growing them.

Thompson & Morgan:  Lemon gem marigold and Italian white sunflower.  These can go hither and yon in the front, the sunflowers in the sunny bed.

Pinetree Garden: purple Trionfo Violetto bean and round black radish.  In the raised bed (radish) and on a teepee (beans).

Johnny’s: Ruby Moon hyacinth bean, Heavenly blue morning glory and lemon gem marigold (I got confused and ordered them twice, but no matter).  The two annual vines to wreath around the mailbox (MG) and to add a purple accent to the pink bed at the side of the house (HB).

Kitchen Garden Seeds: Yaya carrots, Genovese Basil and Shirley poppies, plus fingerling potatoes.  These will go in the raised bed along with the Tuscan kale I “imported” from Italy.  The potatoes will probably go in the potato bag again, but I’ll pay more attention to water this time.  I promise.

White Flower Farms:  because they are too hard to start from seed, three verbena bonariensis and one Bonfire begonia, both plants I had admired in Oxford.  Here’s the Bonfire begonia in the greenhouse at the Botanical Gardens in Oxford

and here’s the verbena at Darwin’s house

The begonia in a pot, and the verbena to twine amongst everything else in the sunny border.