Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesday Vignette: Growing from seed

I don't grow much from seed.  It's not for lack of trying.  I've planted seeds of some kind most years since we moved to our current location.  Inadequate water accounts for some failures and raccoon rampages account for most of the rest.  (I've had better luck with bulbs but, with the exception of those that are deeply planted, the raccoons tend to mess with those too.)  Some of my sweet pea seedlings made it this year but not all.  I've also had a bit of luck with self-seeding this past year.  But the California poppies I sowed at repeated intervals have made a paltry showing, even this year with much more regular winter rain.

This wasn't the worst of the raccoon rampages, only the most recent I bothered to photograph.  Some mornings I spent a good half-hour replanting and filling furrows with the dirt they've dug out in search of grubs.  Their friends, the skunks, fill in now and then.  Both critters leave distinctive calling cards.


But I've gotten off-track.  In contrast to me, my brother and his girlfriend structure their garden in one of Southern California's inland valleys around wildflower seeds.  They scattered about 2 pounds of seed this fall, half of it collected from last spring's plants.  Germination wasn't great - until the rains arrived in December.  I think he's probably looking at a banner year.  I offer this photo of the front of his house as my Wednesday Vignette.

Photo courtesy of ericnp.net.  (You can find close-ups of flowers from his 2015 wildflower garden here and photos taken on his nature-focused walks on his blog here.)


Most of that green mass is comprised of seedlings.  There are some shrubs mixed in - Eremophila divaricata in front of the windows; Lavatera maritima, Tecoma stans, and an immature Chilopsis in front of the garage; and Echium candicans and Tecoma capensis on the right side.  Prostrate rosemary, Agapanthus and Stipa tenuissima are scattered about, partially engulfed by seedlings and some weeds, which they generally ignore.

If this winter rain thing becomes a regular event, maybe I'll try seeding more wildflowers of my own.

Visit Anna at Flutter & Hum for more Wednesday Vignettes.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

20 comments:

  1. How wonderful that it's sprouting - both for you and your brother, Kris! I'm amazed that the California poppies haven't taken hold. I always thought those were tough as nails... As for the sweet peas, in my experience (and I could be totally wrong, of course), they like cooler summers best. I've even had trouble growing them up here, but in Sweden, they grow like gangbusters. I'm surprised you managed to make them grow at all. But, like I said, maybe I'm just doing it wrong. That said - I am beyond thrilled for you and every other Californian who has finally gotten some rain. What a relief! :D

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    1. I don't know why I have such problems with California poppies, Anna. Even in the odd instances in which I've gotten good bloom turnout, they don't self-seed. As to sweet peas, the trick here is to plant the seed in early fall for bloom in late winter or early spring - when the first heatwaves arrive, they're toast. Protecting the seed bed and infant seedlings from raccoons is also a major challenge.

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  2. I hope you follow-up with a photo when all the seedlings of his are blooming. It must be a riot of color!

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    1. The flowers bloom on somewhat different schedules so the garden looks different at intervals, I think. It'd be nice to see the changes over the course of the spring season.

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  3. Grrr... those raccoons! I've had a terrible time starting California poppies this year too; accepted wisdom here seems to be fall planting, but they did better last year when planted in late winter?! I'm growing the heirloom Old Spice sweet peas again this year (started indoors) as I think they are a good deal more heat-tolerant. Loved seeing the hummingbird shots on your brother's blog :) and his wildflower meadow is impressive!

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    1. If there is a secret to growing California poppies, I suspect it's linked to how well sowing is tied to the rain schedule. The fact that we've had so little rain the past several years may have a lot to do with my failures in getting the seeds to germinate.

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  4. Brother and sister gardeners and bloggers? What are the chances?

    I wish I were more seed-able. Of course my garden, with its lack of open spaces (ha, which might be changing) might be part of the problem. Your raccoons! Oh my. Little buggers.

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    1. I hope you've seen your last ice and snow of the season, Loree, and can get outside to attend the wounded soon.

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  5. It is wonderful to see the promise all those green seedlings are giving. I am surprised that you don't have any luck with the California Poppies, as you know they self seed like crazy here, much of the slope is bright green from the seedlings now! They are one of the few seeds that I ever direct sowed, all the rest I start in pots or modules. You could probably try some now, as the ground will be moist and it isn't cold in LA.

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    1. I think of your success with California poppies every time I sow more of those seeds here, Christina. I did sow another round of poppy seeds about a week ago, before the current spate of storms began. My fingers are crossed those will fare better than the seeds I sowed back in late November.

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  6. So nice to hear that you're getting some decent rain, Kris. I have a pile of seeds I keep meaning to start in the greenhouse, but have yet to get around to it. I've also got some to direct sow in the garden, but I'm waiting for the worst of winter to pass.

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    1. The rain has been wonderful, although the Los Angeles Times reminded us again this morning that the drought is far from over in SoCal. We've been downgraded from "exceptional drought" to "extreme drought" for now but there may be more rain coming...

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  7. Don't give up hope. I had a hard time with California poppies too but once they take off, you'll have them forever--too many of them, in fact.

    Please keep us posted on the progress of your brother's garden!

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    1. If the rains continue for another month or so, I'm hoping I'll get a better poppy display this year, Gerhard.

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  8. I remember you mentioning your brother was very different from yourself--it is clearly illustrated in the difference between your gardens!

    My slope is covered with poppy and lupine seedlings, more than ever before. Not sure if I'm happy about that or not, because come May there will be a lot of pulling to do. Hope your poppies finally emerge.

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    1. I've tried several times to get lupine established here from seed without success, although it has arrived courtesy of wind or birds or other unknown agents here and there. It hasn't taken hold here even then, however.

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  9. Sadly unwanted visits to the garden !!
    Is there no way to pull a wire with electricity 15 centimeters above the ground around the garden, we have it against the forest for not getting in wild pigs in the garden.
    Thanks for all the kind words on my blog and appreciate them very much, has been difficult to find time to write, but I read your posts regularly.
    Mariana

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    1. We would have to electrify the entire boundary of the property, Mariana, which is not practical. I know a lot of people create such barriers over small areas, like fish ponds, to keep the raccoons out, however.

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  10. I could contribute a bucket of seed for exuberant Californian poppies. Mine are all unhelped selfseeded and VERY happy, thank you.

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    1. As a Californian, it's very frustrating that I can't get California poppies to establish here, Diana. I'm thinking it must be a matter of the timing of our rain (or, in prior years, the simple lack of rain). Maybe this spring will be different!

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