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?

How to Plant a Garden

There are three ways to plant a garden.

  • You can start with seeds, gently coaxing them with warm soil, water and light.
  • You can buy established starter plants from a local nursery or garden center.
  • Or…you can get out-of-the-way and see what the earth has in store.

We refer to them as ‘volunteers’ around here, tiny seeds that make their way into the soil by a variety of methods and grow up to be the healthiest plants in your garden. Volunteers are the handy work of the wind, the birds and in this case a little self-control from the organized gardener. I like things tidy, even the garden, but have learned to show restraint.

It’s one thing to pull out weeds or cut back dying branches.  That helps the garden grow.  But dead-heading flowers isn’t always best.  When I sat on my hands and let my annuals go to seed last fall, wonderful things happened.

For starters, lots of birds. It was a joy to stand at my kitchen window and see them visit throughout the day.  They ate a few, dropped a few and now I have a self-seeding patch of annuals ready for a good soaking from tomorrows promised storm.

Don’t you just love nature?

seed volunteers

Small garden patch near the sidewalk
brimming with tiny seedlings

seed sprouts

Look closely: sprouts galore

seed variety

Variety is the spice of life