Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sweeten Up Your Garden or the Fairy Method of Direct Sewing Seeds

Notes from a Country Garden.... Feb 19, 2011

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Okay, this is going to be a long post.  So forgive me, but this is one of my main garden methods I firmly believe in and speak about often in my lecturing.  I wish I could explain it to you as we walked around my garden in bloom, but this is the next best thing.  These pictures are all of my own garden from 2009-2011.  You will notice quite a few changes along the way.  Let me explain how I made them.

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-The front border June of 2008-

We built our home in 2006.  We moved from a 1200 sf bungalow to a 3000 sq farmhouse.  I needed everything, literally.  I left all of my drapes in the house we sold and I felt I had all these empty rooms to fill.  So the first 18 mths almost nothing was done to the exterior besides decorating the porch.  In 2008 we finally added the deck.  That spring I really focused on starting the garden.  But budget was still a big issue.  So I added a few shrubs and perennials.  But they were nothing fancy.  Lots of pass along plants from garden club sales and divisions from friends.  I was laying out beds and doing the heavy lifting.  That entire summer I dreamed over photos in garden magazines and HGTV shows like “A Garden Diary”.  I knew what I wanted…. Something relaxed and country like our life out here at the lake.  Something that looked like it had evolved from an old farmhouse 100 years old.  So I was on a mission, and that mission was old-fashioned flower seeds.
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Same area in 2009, thanks to my seeds!  Look at the difference!!

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-And finally in 2011, I did not do as many seeds last year, and honestly I missed them-

Let me start by saying,  I am not a patient woman.  I am more of an instant makeover girl.  I know that the joy of a garden is watching it grow and evolve.  But I wanted it to look that way in a year, not 20 years.  Here is how I took my beds from nothing to full in 2 garden years.  It’s all about the seeds and a bit of help from a few garden fairies…. or sugar…. you decide.

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-White Yarrow and Feverfew from seed with some perennial salvias-

This is a good example of how I love my borders to look.  A mix of a wildflower garden, country-quilted patchwork mass of blooms.  If a little is good, a boat-load must be better right?  I seem to do everything to the extreme (see this recent post) and sewing seeds might be my most extreme garden sport to date.  Lets start with a few highlights and favorites.  Get your garden journals ready, you might want to start a list!
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Annual Candytuft is a cottage dream.  It blooms the first year, reseeds lightly…. meaning I would add a few more each year if you really want a mass like this one.  It is not evergreen like the perennial variety, but it does rebloom!  It is similar to sweet alyssum is growing habit, but the blooms are much bigger and seem from across the garden.  No smell that I have noticed, but the foliage is pretty even before the blooms arrive.  Spring, Summer and Fall Blooms in intervals.

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Red Bee Balm is so striking.  And most of the time you can get a start from a garden friend.  But it is also easily grown from seed.  It makes a lovely mass of colors, I also have purple and pink…. but the red is my favorite.  Mid Summer Bloomer.

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Shasta Daisy, “Alaska” is a fantastic easy to grow perennial that will bloom the first year if planted early (like right now).  It is evergreen and loves full sun growing to about 30 inches tall.  I used it in almost every garden bed I did and love it.  If you shear it back after blooming it will send up a whole new batch of blooms.  Mid Summer and again in the Fall.

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Blue Cornflowers will pop right up and bloom in less than 8 weeks.  I use these in my wildflower bed and love the look of them with red poppies (we’ll see more to them in a future post).  This is an annual that will reseed a bit too the next year.  Early Summer bloomer.

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Pink Baby’s Breath is so charming.  This is one that most people have never seen, but I highly suggest it.  I have found that only a few seeds come up, so seed heavy to make sure you get a good showing, but it is worth it, I promise!  Great airy filler plant!  I also grow the white kind (shown here are well with smaller blooms, thinner petals).  I think if you can find the pink ones you will fall in love with them. Mid Summer Bloomer.

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Pink Yarrow from seed is soooooo easy!  Yarrow can be a bit overwhelming and take over, but I have the pink variety to be more well behaved.  I started this one area from seed and now have it all over my butterfly hill.  Talk about bang for your buck!  I grow about 5 different yarrows, there are so many different colors.  Take your pick, they all work well in a cottage garden. Mid Summer to Fall.

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Evening Scented Stock is a lovely pale blue/purple as shown here with some corn poppies.  They both are from seed.  Catchfly has several hues of color, some almost looking white.  It is a very old variety that I feel so many would love if they tried it. Mid Summer to Frost.

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Feverfew is the little white bloom with the yellow centers.  There is more evening scented stock in the pack of this photo as well.  They play nice together.  I have heard of gardeners that let feverfew grow all over their gardens at will, and I can see why.  It is like little rays of sunshine.  My mom thinks it looks like a weed, but I really enjoy it.  Mid Summer to Frost.

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Mallows and French Hollyhocks are always welcome and will bloom from the first year.  This one is Zebra, but I just did a post on another variety I enjoy called Windsor Castle.  Any of them are beautiful and well deserved in the country borders. The little white bloom is Sweet Alyssum.  Mid Summer bloomer.

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This is a double shot of two favorites with my Mister Lincoln rose.  It is larkspur and false Queen Anne’s Lace.  I had never heard of False Queen Anne’s Lace till I ordered from a vintage seed catalog.  It is a quick growing annual that gives you that flat headed look of our beloved weed here in Indiana, in a much tamer package.  It doesn’t get overly tall, but blends very well into a mixed border as shown here.  Mid Summer to Frost.


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Blue Sage is sooo easy from seed and it is a perennial.  I can’t remember if it bloomed the first year or not, but one package of seed did a whole big area that I have enjoyed every year since. Butterflies love this beauty! Mid Summer to Frost.

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Cleome or Spider Flower.  This is one you either love or hate, and I love it.  I use it extensively down at my firepit rock garden and wildflower beds.  But they can also be at home in the mixed border.  Annual that pops right up and blooms in a few weeks…. late summer to fall.  I also grow a white variety that is lovely.

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Sweet Alyssum, grow it for the scent alone.  I have it along the path to the front door and have so many comments on what smells so good…. it is these tiny blooms.  Mine will reseed every year, but not if I mulch in the spring.  They need some light and air to germinate.  I have seed bought to have them again this year, I can’t wait.  This is a plant that more is a good thing for a big impact.

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My favorite things to grow with sweet alyssum is moss verbena.  As all of these plants I am showing you today, it is grown from seed.  It will bloom from May till late December and NEVER stop.

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It is a groundcover and spreader, but I get so many comments about it’s mass of purple colors. I have grown this one in a container and it does okay, but nothing like it does in the ground. Perfect for a bank or under evergreens or shrubs.

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I will always have this in my garden, I love it that much.
Okay, I hope I have given you some good ideas on how to make an “Instant Garden” this year.  But wait, I haven’t told you how to do it.  What was that about fairies and a sweet garden? 

Well if you ask me, I say the garden fairies plant all these beautiful seeds where they want them while I sit on my porch swing.  But if I had to tell the truth…. my secret is the sugar.  Yes, good old white kitchen sugar.  Here is why….. please don’t tell anyone, it is my little garden secret!

I use sugar to “thin out” my seeds so they cover a larger area.  You see if you sprinkle seeds with your finger tips you only get a small spot here or there.  I want to cover a big area with these tiny little seeds….   thus I need a medium to dilute my dispersal of seeds…. I use sugar!  You can also use sand, but I never remember to buy sand, but I always have some sugar around here. 

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I place the seeds and a good amount of sugar in cleaned plastic spice jars.
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I keep ones with little tiny holes and bigger holes depending on the size of the seeds!  When you have it mixed together it will look like this….

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Leave enough room at the top to give it a good shake!

BIG BONUS…. the sugar is white and I can see where I am sprinkling it in the garden. With sand I have a harder time seeing where it is going.  Isn’t that a fun way to do it?  See, I told you your garden will be sweet! 
Remember sugar can stick together, so this is not a good way to store seeds.  Only mix it up when you are ready to use the seeds.

I hope you have as good of luck as I have with heirloom seeds.  I think there is no greater compliment than a visitor saying I haven’t seen that in years or asking what a plant is.  Spread the love garden friends!!

You can find more of my posts about sewing seeds by clicking my tag line "Seeds" below.

If you are visiting for the first time, please consider following me.  If you leave me a comment I will follow you back!

~Brooke~
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All photos of my own home and garden ©Brooke Kroeger – Creative Country Mom

10 comments:

  1. thanks for all the suggestions! I always put in marigolds, cosmos and zinna when it gets warmer but want to add more that I can just throw the seeds in the ground. I have had Shasta daisys come up that way. You showed feverfew which I love, but if it dies back I have a terrible time finding it again.
    Again thanks for all your tips!!

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  2. Thank you so much for the sugar and spice jar tips. I will be sowing tiny impatien seeds and was wondering how to spread them effectively. Problem solved!

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  3. I love the sugar! My mom or I have had most all the the flowers that you've mentioned, so I'm excited to get busy and expand this spring. Thanks for the reminders and recommendations! Can't wait to be a fairy in the garden.♥♫

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  4. What a sweet garden! You can tell it was sown by fairies. I think your old-fashioned cottage look is very appealing and so nice you didn't have to wait 20 years for it!

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  5. Linking in to outdoor wednesday, cant seem to log into blogger to edit this post!
    http://asoutherndaydreamer.blogspot.com/2012/02/222-outdoor-wednesday-163.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ASouthernDaydreamer+%28A+Southern+Daydreamer%29&m=1

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  6. Thanks for the tips! Your garden is lovely!

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  7. Such a pretty garden! Great tip with the sugar too.
    Jeanni

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  8. Your blogspots is wonderful; both of them! I am going to try your method of direct sowing seeds with the sugar for the first time. Do you use it for all of your seeds or just the tiny ones that are hard to see where you've sown them, like forget-me-not and portulaca are ones that come to my mind right away. I had an old butter salt jar that I am going to use. How much sugar should I put in the jar. Your garden and property is so nice. I notice that a lot of people from Indiana use that red mulch..we don't see that much here in Md. I had a dear friend that lived in Indiana, near Fairmont area and she said that was all they used there. Most people here use shredded hardwood or the nugget type mulch. I love the cocoa bean mulch but it is more expensive and harder to find. But if you are a chocolate lover, ah, the smell when you first open that bag of mulch and put it on your garden beds..Heavenly!

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  9. Now if somebody will just create a metal fairy plant marker that we could use to mark where we've sown our seeds! Do you pull the mulch back when you direct sow and then once they have germinated and growing well, remulch the area?

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Wonderful to hear from you and taking the time to visit. Come back soon and let me know how I can visit you online as well. I love to meet new gardeners!