Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Garden Volunteers

Myosotis (aka Forget-me-not) 'Blue Ball'

I have many, many plants in my garden. This one, pictured above, is about as close to a weed as you can get. Perhaps to some it is a weed, though I'd never consider it one. It reseeds freely and I encourage this. I let lots of it go to seed, letting some fall where it may and then I pull the dried stalks of seedheads and lay them down in other places I'd like it to bloom for me the following spring. I suppose technically it is a biennial - foliage first year then flowers the next - but I have had it my garden long enough that I hardly pay attention, I no longer have a spring without it. I have the straight species as well, it came with the garden. I like it just as much, for different reasons. It doesn't seed about as much, it winds and weaves around other plants and it blooms later in the summer and into fall.

Dill with Centaurea cyanus aka Bachelor's Buttons

Dill is another plant I allow to reseed. I love the color of the flower and its effect, I love the smell of the foliage. Actually, the foliage is pretty great to look at, as well. Lacy and see through. Mostly it grows in the veg garden but also here and there through other borders. It reseeds freely as well and to me weeding it is no chore as it smells so wonderful to pull.

The Bachelor's Buttons are another I love. I am a sucker for blue. I used to have a black one that reseeded as well and I'll have it again, knowing this time to save the seed! The blue with the burgundy was wonderful. Great cut flowers and if you take the time to deadhead you will have blooms all season. They also have the added benefit of blooming both early and late in the season.

Calendulas, Papaver somniferum aka breadseed poppy and snapdragons

I love that the above photo shows a planting I never would have thought to put together - with the punchiest colors. School bus yellow calendulas and snapdragons with pink poppies and snapdragons. Cheeky.
All these plants reseed, the poppies and calendulas freely, the snaps well enough. Usually with snapdragons I leave the deadheadings on the ground next to the plant as I work. I prefer the tall ones which is funny because both the plants and the seed are harder to find. I always have at least a few of the deep red 'Black Prince' and always mean to look for other varieties that do not come in a mix. If you have any sources, let me know!

Breadseed poppy and pale pink malva

Two pinks. One more of a melon, the other with a touch of lavender. I am not even sure of the Malva's name, I suppose it could be a Lavatera. Either way, related to the Hollyhock. I believe it came from my mom's garden as a stowaway on another plant (as seed). She says this looks like a Malva she originally purchased from White Flower Farm. It grows to about two feet and about as wide and will rebloom if you deadhead. Which is a good idea as it reseeds some and has a long taproot that requires a good rain to make it easy to pull. Perennial.

Breadseed Poppy

Isn't this a beautiful color combination? And I just love the jagged edges. I started out with one variety of Breadseeds, 'Single Danish Flag'. Beautiful red flowers with white where the above poppy is purple and then that startling bright green center. I want to say I ordered the seed from Then I found Hungarian Breadseed Poppies from and as my husband is Hungarian, well, I couldn't pass them up. They are shades of mauve. I've grown both varieties for years and they have crossbred, creating some that look like one parent or the other and some that are uniquely wonderful like this one. I also have 'Lauren's Grape' which, from what I have read, comes true from seed.

Consolida ambigua, or, Larkspur

I love larkspur. Delphiniums melt in our wild midwest summers - not that that stops me - but larkspur is like a great old reliable friend. I have a lot of it, it reseeds freely for me. It grows tall, to maybe four feet if it is happy and will also grow in a decent amount of shade, I have found. It peaks around mid-summer and is good in bouquets. I used to be very picky and only want the blue but I've loosened up in more recent years. Looking at this photo, I might rethink that and stick with the blue. Every once in awhile some will come up that are that wonderful electric cobalt like a delphinium and those are my favorite.

Silene armeria with Sedum 'Matrona'

This Silene is another that reseeds freely. However, given the fact that this plant will bloom from mid-summer on due to reseeding thruout the growing season, it is a favorite of mine. Plus it is a strident shade of pink. I like that. To me, it goes with everything just because it has such confidence of color. Look below and see what I mean. Do you agree? I'd love to know what you think.

Silene armeria with California Poppies

Totally unplanned, yet this was one of my favorite combinations this past season. Good thing as I saw a lot of it. This happened to be right out my back door and I am in and out with the dog and garden all day!

I have had California Poppies growing in this space for awhile and enjoy them - recently I learned the secret to their success. Being poppies they really aren't suitable for transplanting. What they want is to be sown on cold ground. Now I knew this with breadseeds, I direct sow them in February. I could have sworn I'd tried this with California poppies in other areas of my garden and perhaps I did. Sometimes I do not have successes which is why I keep trying - variables during a year are variable year to year! I'll try it again, I am eager to have California poppies in other colors in other hot dry areas of the garden. has several that are mouthwatering. That's where I found the tip about direct sowing on cold ground.

That's enough for today, I actually need to go out and shovel snow! Stay tuned for another upcoming post on its way with more of my favorite garden volunteers!

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