I’ve made so many gardening gaffes, and spent so much money on plants and seeds that I might as well have rolled up those dollars and lit the grill with them. That’s not to say that all my experiments in horticulture flat-out died — I wrote about my losing battle with Russian Comfrey here:https://cheapcheer.wordpress.com/2010/05/25/russian-comfrey-the-plant-from-hell-or-belgorod/
So it’s with pride and bemusement that I’m going to talk about one of my successes: Larkspur.
I bought a package of seeds seven (eight?) years ago and blithely threw them around near the front door. Nothing happened, not one single hopeful seedling. I shrugged it off with that summer’s other failures, and walked around to the rear of the house to smell my roses.
The next spring I noticed tiny lacy fronds peeping up that didn’t look like any of the vigorous weeds greeting spring with their usual enthusiasm. I decided to leave them there. A month later I had a solid 2’X6′ patch of waving larkspur in shades of blue from cobalt to baby, with a few pink beauties here and there. Folks, don’t do as I did: read your seed packets.
“Plants seeds in late fall or early spring when weather is cool.” Like annual poppies, larkspur (consolia ajacis) needs to be cold, even frozen before it germinates. And because the self-scattered seeds like a few months nap under a blanket of snow, my larkspur has greeted me every June since.
I learned about the poppies in exactly the same scenario, by the way. You’re probably thinking: “Well, duh! No wonder this clueless woman makes so many mistakes — she won’t even read the package!” You’d be 80% right, but trust me, I’m improving in this direction. Twenty five years of horticultural disaster will pound in a few lessons:
- I lust after my father’s magnificent delphiniums. Fifteen examples of pricey failure-to-thrive was what drove me to try larkspur. Larkspur works for me, delphiniums don’t.
- Never accept a garlic chive plant from a gardening neighbor, unless you want to till over your entire garden every single year. They spread, they smell if you’ve got a hundred hardy plants, and even tilling won’t eradicate them.
- Always accept any other plant from the same neighbor.
- Hybrid tea roses aren’t enough bang for the buck, and rarely smell like roses.
- I suck at growing vegetables, so except for my lone tomato plant, and lots of herbs, I’m just gonna hit the farmer’s market.
- I love growing annuals from seed, especially if they’re reliable and I can identify them.
I love growing flowers by direct seeding — it’s just taken me way too long to form my list of Old Reliables. I add zinnias to that list but this summer I forgot my zinnies. I’ll regret that come August. Talk about cheap and cheerful!
I’m fond of the varieties of vintage flower and vegetable seeds from Renees Garden Seeds, formerly Shepherd’s Seeds. Quality is excellent, the selection is very cool, and the packets are so pretty! http://www.reneesgarden.com/
What are your Old Reliables from a seed package? What am I missing out on?
I’m off to the Farmer’s Market in the ‘Ville. I hope that this year I’ll find more farmers and fewer jewelery stands.