Sowing Mysteries and Garden Sprawl

Have you ever planted one of those seed assortments that promise extraordinary results with no effort?  According to the package, a jaw-dropping butterfly garden will appear within a matter of weeks. All you have to do is scatter the seeds in the soil, cover, water and enjoy.

I’ve fallen for the sales pitch twice now and I should know better. It seems irresistible when you see the photo on the packet with 100 square feet (30 meters) of wildflowers. In my experience, ‘thousands of seeds’ turn out to be one, maybe two hardy plants. The end.

Or is it?

I present to you, garden sprawl.

Both Love-in-a-mist

love in a mist at the sidewalk

Love-in-a-mist edging the sidewalk

love in a mist lining the walkway

I love this self-made border

love in a mist, poppies, statice

Love-in-a-mist fills in all the space around the Sweet Peas, California Poppies, and Statice

and Four o’clocks

four o'clock buds

Four O’clock, time to wake up

four o'clock long view

Four O’clock, the long view

have sown themselves throughout the garden. They’ve traveled from the front to the back of the house, filling in the spaces in between. I even saw a few in the neighborhood on our evening walk. Those seeds get around!

They’re all welcome in my garden, with their tender greens, pops of yellow and soon, love-in-a-mist lavender blooms.

We’re on strict water restrictions as we work our way through year four of the drought. So far, the seedlings are getting by on morning dew and an occasional watering. We’re turning off the sprinklers to the lawn completely and hope to eventually replace lawn with a native alternative.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying these unexpected gifts and their presence in my arid garden.

What’s the water situation in your neck of the woods?

19 thoughts on “Sowing Mysteries and Garden Sprawl

  1. In Canada we had a wildflower ‘prairie’ . The first year we had little flowers but the trick was not to mow until all died down and seedpods etc where brown. Than we mowed it but left everything untill Spring, then we roughly raked the ‘hay’ together. After 4 four years we had indeed that beautiful wild flower patch and we never watered it either. But is must be very hard gardening in this drought..in Canada we had at least the moist from a lot of snow and some good summer rains.

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  2. We have sufficient water but with my wildflower planting, and letting weeds provide ground cover, I have had very little watering to do this year. Johanna’s method with the wildflower prairie is much like what I do. However, before I sowed the mixed flowers I had several seasons of single sowing of borage and phacelia. This means that they are the base plants where the wildflowers falter.

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  3. I like the four o’clocks! I have never seen them before. I also have Love in the Mist reseeding each year, but they are not flowering here yet. Your water shortage was in our news again, as the new measures have been brought in to save water. We are very lucky here, with plenty of underground reservoirs and lakes too. But rainfall in our region is often low for weeks on end, and my soil is very well-drained, so I have to look for plants that can survive drought as well as cold winters! Water is, however, not cheap. And watering the garden is not really an option, except as a very last resort in extremely hot summers, so containers are easier for the thirstier summer flowers.

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  4. We still have Love in a Mist from a sowing over 15 years ago and like you I am never sure where they will pop up next. We have adverts on TV for these large canisters of seeds for an instant mixed flower border that you shake around similar to the Shake and Vac idea and a glorious border should appear with no effort – I have not noticed anyones border in our neighbourhood being quite like those shown on the advert. Maybe they only do their back gardens that we don’t see LOL!

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  5. I’ve never heard of these flowers before. I’m glad they are sprawling in their own way for you. We, too, are in a desperate water situation. I think about it everyday and wonder if I should even bother landscaping our yard. I’ve drawn up a plan for mostly walking trails and native “superstars”. These include crossvine, flame acanthus and other pretty flowing plants that survive and thrive and very little water. We hope to get gutters up soon to harvest rainwater as well. Here’s to a rain on both our houses! !

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  6. As the outtake hose cascades water out of my basement into my creeky drainage ditch and the snow patches continue to melt in the yard I often wish I could send my California gardening sisters a convoy of water-pumping trucks mounted with long-lasting reservoirs. I keep two rain barrels full most of the year but do not regularly water my flowerbeds, instead cultivating native species – lupine, Jerusalem artichoke, Mullen, wild roses, Queen Anne’s Lace, etc. and hardy herbs and flowers (thyme, cosmos) that get along on our blessed rainfall most years. I love garden “volunteers” and those where-did-you-come-from surprises. Also things I planted and forgot, like the huge rhubarb plant discovered a couple of springs ago. Isn’t gardening in concert with nature grand?

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  7. You know our water situation is as bleak as yours in Southern California. Yes, I have tried scattering the seeds as well with less success! Just hoping to keep a few vegetables going this year in our garden. 😯 That and maybe maintain whatever plants we have already. I hope this drought is over soon!

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  8. I know the little plants you call ‘Four O’Clocks’ by another name – but cannot think what it is right now – my brain is still a little befuddled! We have rain. And sleet and snow! Alarmingly early in the season – and the last of my tomatoes are still ripening on the vine……

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  9. Your garden looks beautiful. I used one of those wildflower mixes once and got two of my hardiest flower borders from it: love in a mist and columbine. I think the seeds that work well in the soil where they’ve landed take off and come back. The love in a mist is a prolific seeder. Mine are just seedlings right now! Yours have given me a preview.

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  10. The drought doesn’t seem to want to end. The weather on the planet seems to have gone sideways. We have an abundance of rain in the winter but rarely a drop in the summer so I too, implement xeriscaping. I leave what is established but what I put in as I lay out my garden will require much less watering. It’s a trickle down problem. Your flowers look happy where they are. I love your new gravatar.

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  11. I adore those little four o’clocks. And now I’m quite desperate to find out if I can get them out here by me. And then I’ll search for the five o’clocks and the six o’clocks too. What a fabulous party trick to grow a garden full of flowers that are timed to bloom on the hour. I ditch all my clocks in a heartbeat, Alys. 😛

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  12. Pingback: Blossoms, Pollen, and Other Extravagances of Spring | arlingwords

  13. It’s all looking quite glorious even though you can’t water like you’d like to. I’ve never had ‘Four-o’clocks’. I’ve heard of them but haven’t seen them at the garden centre. I guess they’re not hardy here. Interesting foliage for the ‘Love-In-The-Mist’. There’s a nuisance weed that grows in my lane that looks very similar. What colour do those bloom? The stuff I pull out is yellow and it spreads like mad if you don’t do any weeding. I have to be very selective in our yard because there’s really so little garden space, but sowing mystery seeds does look fun xoxo

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    • The love-in-a-mist is purple in my garden, but it may bloom in other colors, too. I might also be mixing it up with Bachelor Buttons that come in a similar blue/purple as well as pink and white. It’s actually quite comical to see how many places they’ve taken hold: they’re near the steps in the back garden, next to the curb, leaning against a tree and under the Little Free Library. I love the frilly greens and the tiny flowers. I just read that you should plant several sets a year, so I will put out the seeds I have from last year. I sure miss planting pumpkins but hope this time next year we’ll have a break from the drought and the squash bugs. We shall see.

      xox

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    • PS Maybe you can turn your garden over to the fairies…see what they come up with. 😉 Be sure to whisper aqua in their direction before spinning in a circle three times. Toss a glass of wine over your shoulder for good measure.

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      • snicker, if my plants came up aqua, I’d have a very popular garden with horticulturists from near and wide clambering for a peak-a-boo. It’d be great if there were aqua plants though, I’d have a garden plumb full. The fairies would be so giddy, I think they’d be flying around like darts. xoxoxo Maybe I’d only throw 1/2 a glass of red wine over my shoulders and tuck into the other 1/2 😉

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        • You would be the talk of the town for sure with aqua plants. Actually, you’re already the talk of the town with your extraordinary paper crafting. I love all the little Boomdee touches throughout my home, each one beautiful and an extension of you. I’m the luckiest woman ever. xox

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          • oh ((( you )))……blush, stop spoiling! Mwaaaa. I’ve spent the whole morning cleaning the BoomRoom. It got so I couldn’t find anything (it was probably on the floor). It’s dreamy and ready to go again. I’m home for the whole day and really taking it ‘Off’….good grief what madness last week was. Feels good to start on a clean slate. Speaking of lucky, ===>> me, 4 U, YES! xo

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