A Winning Combination

sunflower sideview


Earlier this year, I dug out a corner of the lawn and replaced it with a variety of flower seeds. The corner faces my kitchen window and sits at the curb, allowing maximum viewing enjoyment.

I started with assorted new and leftover seed packets, then added seeds saved from last summer.  Growing from seed is risky business around here, thanks to a healthy population of squirrels. If the seeds manage to stay under wraps long enough for germination, they face the next hurdle: noshing snails.  Those mollusks love tender shoots.  What’s a gardener to do?

Lacking a greenhouse of my own, I hit upon the idea of ‘tenting’ the corner with a cover I spotted in a garden catalog.  Boy, was I feeling smug.  I planted my seeds, then erected the barricade.  I staked the corners, then added rocks for safe measure.  I checked each day and sure enough the barricade remained sound.

Every other day, I unzipped the cover to water the seeds, then stood back, waiting for them to grow.  Nothing seemed to be sprouting.  I checked with our local nursery, and received sound advice: if the seeds don’t remain moist at the time of germination, they never be viable.  In the past I either started seeds indoors or sowed directly without benefit of a cover.  My attempt to thwart the squirrels ending up thwarting the germination as well.

I went back to the nursery and bought a few bedding plants instead, so I could get a jump-start on the garden.  I bought half a dozen sunflowers, some Alyssum and a couple of small bedding plants.  I added a bright pink Cosmo to the center of the triangle and called it a garden.

Then lo and behold, the seeds began to grow!  Just as the sunflowers were reaching their full height, lacy green foliage emerged below.  Soon blues and pinks joined the yellows.  Bachelor Buttons commingled with Cosmos.  Forget-me-nots were next on the scene producing a brilliant dark purple flower.  My garden corner is now what the garden centers like to call ‘a riot of color.’

Come join me for a walk on the bright side…

magenta cosmos

Bright Pink Cosmos (bedding plant)

golden sunflower

Yellow Sunflower (bedding plant)

bachelor button purple

Emerging Bachelor Button (from seed)

bachelor button blue bending

Bachelor Button (from seed)

bachelor button pink

Soft Pink Bachelor Button (from seed)


Forget-me-not (from seed)

garden triangle collage

14 thoughts on “A Winning Combination

  1. Love the colour of that cosmos! Also admire your perseverance! I have zero luck growing from seed unless it is self sewn in which case I do very well …. 🙂 And I’m so looking forward to Spring …..


      • My tiny courtyard garden sports a native clematis, jasmine and Boston Ivy on the walls, lavender and various perennial herbs and I usually take a wander around the nursery and choose whatever annuals take my fancy – but have to be careful as part of the courtyard gets little sun even in high summer…………. any suggestions you care to make? I like to include pansies amongst it whatever else I do.


        • Oh my goodness you’ve got lots going on. I hope you’ll snap some pictures in the early morning hours one day. It sounds perfect.

          Flowers are always a challenge when light is at a premium, but I find impatiens do well in low light and produce lots of lovely annual color.


          • Yes, I had some in last year and they did do well – I’d forgotten! I thought to also try some coleus this year in that particular corner, maybe both together might be impressive….. I will have to try and remember to get the camera out 🙂


    • Thank you, Anna. Truth be told, I would be rid of the lawn if it were just up to me but hubby wants to preserve some of the green. Our compromise was digging up that corner, and adding a large bed to the sidewalk strip.


  2. What beautiful colours and pictures. A credit to all your hard work. I can see the fairies now sitting on their lovely new heart chairs admiring the riot of colour! And Mouse – well he’s just so darned handsome.


    • Thank you, Dani. That Mouse is a charmer through and through. He puts a smile on my face every day.

      Today I hosted a pair of one year old cats for a friend who was having her place fumigated. They hung out in my bedroom for the day, a room with a sliding glass door. Mouse and my cat Lindy kept approaching from the outside, trying to figure out where the two new cats came from. I was so busy, in and out all day that I didn’t get any pictures. It was cute though.


  3. 😀 Oh my, all the trials and tribulations have finely given way to your riot of colour! I’m actually amazed how fast things grow for you there in Sunny San Jose. I’ve never bothered to try much of anything from seed, our season is just too short. Sometimes it doesn’t heat up till Mid June. I did see a lot of Cosmos, Poppies and Blue Flax sow itself around the yard though, so that was a little thing I’d could give away to neighbours. I see Mighty Mouse made it into the snap shot, I just love that guy & u2 xoK


    • That’s you, every thoughtful, giving away flowers to your neighbors. My cosmos were spectacular in size last year, but much, much smaller this year. Hard to know why. Reading your comment reminds me that none of the poppies came up! Darn. I had pretty pink ones too in addition to the traditional orange.

      Given your short growing season, I can appreciate how hard it would be to grow from seed. We are quite spoiled. Before San Jose was part of Silicon Valley, we were an agricultural hub. The Valley was full of fruit orchards (hence the Pruneyard shopping center) canning facilities and the like. We have hot, sunny days and fertile soil (unless of course you take delivery of the wrong thing!)

      I love you too. Mouse says hello!


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