Flower Seeds: Self-Sowers

images of perennial border with annual poppies

Annual poppies enhance the cottage garden effect in a sunny perennial border,

Today I received a bulk order of my favorite flower seeds; all 72,300 of them. These are considered self-sowers. While these are mostly annuals, biennials or short-lived perennials, once these plants become established in the garden, they will continue to cast their seeds about, ensuring that they reappear each year, albeit in unpredictable places. These include Shirley poppies, foxgloves, Sweet William, Bachelor Buttons, Cosmos sulpherus, Nigella damascena and Columbines.

The annual poppies, of which there are many varieties including papaver rhoeas, papaver nudicaule, escholzia (the yellow, orange and cream colored California poppies), along with Bachelor’s Buttons, Nigella damascena, (aka Love-in-a-Mist) and Sweet Williams (Dianthus barbatus) enjoy full sun. But one must be able to tolerate the somewhat scruffy look of the spent flower stalks in the garden as the plants need to produce seedpods, mature and then cast their seeds in order for them to multiply.

image of foxgloves behind perennials

Foxgloves provide a nice transition between a perennial border and a woodland.

The foxgloves and columbines thrive in a bit of shade, making them perfect candidates for creating a naturalistic transition between a sunny perennial border and the edge of a woodland, which is how we use them. Here, they’re shown with salvia, nepeta, agastache and a few self-sown Shirley poppies.

As we gear up for Spring, you might want to consider ordering some of these seeds,  to cast about the gardens and create a relaxed, cottage-garden/wildflower look. They’re usually inexpensive; geez, for $3.95 I got 44,000 seeds. If only 1% decide to germinate I will still enjoy a few colorful blooms that offer the promise of future generations. Go for it!

Volunteer Fun

Dill volunteers

Dill, poppies and a few cosmos

Assessing the grounds after a strangely mild winter, it was fun to come upon the valiant and vigorous volunteer seedlings in the gardens. Last month, while clearing the old kitchen garden fence, we rolled up the plastic deer netting and set it into a corner of the garden with the a stone on it to re-use for the new garden fence. Setting the new posts a week or so later, we noticed some seedlings around the netting pile. We moved the netting and discovered a large, vigorous patch of dill seedlings clustered in approximately 5 or 6 square feet, and interspersed with a few poppies and cosmos around and beneath the netting and near the south facing foundation of my studio. Meanwhile, in another section of the garden we noticed quite a lot of cilantro, some lettuce, and a few mustard greens. For me, the lesson to be learned here, is to pay attention when nature decides it’s the right time to start growing certain things.

Self-sown, red-leaved mustard green ‘Senposai’