Today’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post features five plants I’ve raised from seed. I’d consider most of these in the “pretty easy” to “really easy” categories, both to germinate and to grow.
Three of these came up from seed that I sowed directly in the ground last October. I basically made little furrows a quarter to half an inch deep, sprinkled in some seed, and watered them in. I provided some supplemental watering the give them a head start, and then let the occasional rains take care of getting the plants established. Now that the rains are probably over for the year, I give them occasional sprinklings to keep them greener and flowering longer.
This first flower is Clarkia williamsonii, which is an annual native to inland Central California and Orange County. The Seedhunt listing described the flowers as being “gaudy.” A flower that’s gaudy? Sold!
The next images are of another clarkia, Clarkia rubicunda ssp. blasdalei, native to coastal Central California and El Dorado County. The first is a freshly opened flower, the second a flower that’s on it’s second day.
Until this morning I’d never noticed with these that the fresh flowers have the stamens all bundled up, and that they don’t extend until the flower is older, after the anthers bearing the pollen are starting to dry up. You can see the stamens as the white four-pronged appendage in the center of the second flower. It’s a clever way to prevent self-pollination and keep the gene pool diverse.
Another easy annual is baby blue eyes, Nemezia menziesii. What you see here is pretty scrappy and well could be the last flower of the season. Although this is an easy plant, I’ve decided that it’s better suited to a garden spot that might get more than bi-weekly supplemental water.
I’ve been showing lots of California poppies this spring. This will probably be the last of the garden pictures of the common orange form. The flowers this time of year are starting to get smaller as the plant’s water supplies dwindle. Also, here near the coast, the plants start to mildew heavily, leaving them crippled. (You can see some of that as the whitish background foliage.)
Better suited to coastal areas is this yellow coastal form of the species, Escholzia californica maritima. The strain I’ve got starts to flower later in the year than the typical orange form, but the plants show much better resistance to powdery mildew and will continue flowering later into the year.
Unlike the first three plants I showed, the poppies are perennial, so the same plants will continue to come back one year to the next. But one nice thing with all these species is that they’ll come back from seed as well.
Check out all the other Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day photos by checking out the listing at May Dreams Gardens.
Last year we were staring at an awful lot of exposed soil while the plants in the new bed were filling in slowly. To liven up the space we stuck almost a hundred little pansies into the ground.
Pansies are fairly short-lived annuals for us, especially as the weather heats up. After a couple of freakish heat waves in early spring, with temperatures up to 98 one day, the plants looked like hell, and so I pulled most of them. By that point they’d had a chance to set seed and drop some into the garden.
For the last several weeks, there’ve been little pansy seedlings coming up all over. Here’s the first one of them to bloom.
This plant came up in an area that had only been planted with small-flowered pure white pansies. But with lavender swooshing on the two upper petals it clearly shows characteristics of some of the pansies that were planted nearby. Some pollinator probably visited one of the other pansies before stopping by the all-white one that set the seed. Who’s the father? The big white pansies with the purple faces? The dark blue-purple variety with the almost-black mask? I have no idea.
Since I’m no expert on pansy genetics, I suppose there’s even the possibility that white hybrid pansies don’t come true to seed. But I bet on the hybridization scenario.
This little seedling didn’t come up in an ideal location, but I’ll definitely keep it. Pretty and delicate, it looks nothing like what you find in the seed catalogs.
I don’t deadhead every flowering plant in the garden–That would drive me crazy! Besides there are plants that produce seeds that keep the local bird population happy, and many of these plants are annuals that would only come back next year from seed.
There are some lettuce plants that I’ve been letting go to seed for the last decade or so. I put up with some slightly scrappy looking plants for a month or so. But there are some little yellow-green finches that descend on the vegetable garden, making a most excellent squawking racket. And when the weather turns cool again, there’s a nice little collection of baby lettuces, all from seed, some plants for the salad plate, some to make more seeds for the birds.
I’ve been watching the seedlings, and now they’re just beginning to bloom: Ranunculus californicus, a.k.a. “California buttercup.”
I bought a plant at a native plant sale maybe ten years ago. The species gows 18-24 inches tall, is drought-tolerant, and stays pretty showy for a couple months in the early spring with bright heads of these simple yellow flowers carried above the delicate and shiny foliage. It self-sowed readily without becoming weedy, so that one plant became a nice handful. That nice handful, however, got run over by a little backhoe a couple years ago when we did a little addition to the back of the house. Where there used to be garden there was just trampled dirt. Now the first ranunculus are back, maybe not exactly where I’d want them, but close enough.
With too many of these native California plants, they show up at native plant nurseries, but when you go out to the wilds you hardly ever run across them. But one of the last times I was hiking around the local San Clemente Canyon preserve, maybe 3 miles away, I looked down and there it was: Ranunculus californica, as happy on the hillside as it was back home in the garden.
Some things I put in the ground exactly where I want them. Other things I put in once and let nature take care of the rest. Way back in the Paleozoic era I’d bought some red romaine lettuce plants. There were more than we could eat, and a few went to seed. They looked a little unkempt, but the little yellow finches loved the seeds and made a ruckus in the yard as they fed on them.
After the next rains, tiny lettuce plants began to sprout all over. The plants that were in reasonable spots I let grow, and the baby greens from them were as tasty as the red leaves were great to look at. I let a few of those go to seed again, and the cycle started all over. Here are a few plants from the current crop, providing a nice red counterpoint around a green rosemary:
Vegetable gardens so often seem to be disciplined, military spaces with their perfectly aligned rows of exactly the same plant, one after another. Instead of that, why not plant the veggies like they’re an extension of the garden? And why not let some of them go to seed and repopulate themselves?