Category Archives: self seeding annuals


My father often told me that he didn’t want to slow down as he aged.


Mother and Daddy riding in a parade circa 1962

Mother and Daddy riding in a parade circa 1962


Parkinson’s Disease forced him to

But it wasn’t his idea.

He would say

“If I sit down I’ll go to seed.”

Time and Parkinson’s won out

And his life slowly wound down.

But never completely

He conducted a meeting about the future of public education in Oklahoma

On the Thursday before he died the next Tuesday.

He got his wish

He never went to seed.

But going to seed is a natural event in a garden.

Flowers come from seed

And most go back there sometime during the season.

That process has begun in my garden

The “going to seed” sequence

Follows the blooming sequence

So since Poppies are the first

Of the “self seeding annuals” to bloom

They are the first to go to seed.

So the process looks something like this





Seed Pod


Dried Seed Pod




Next spring it will begin again.

This week it’s the Larkspur’s turn

I know

It’s late

But remember that the season

Could be as much as 1 month behind normal.

So the Larkspur blooms have begun to turn

To seed pods.


I’ll let some dry out in the ground

But not all.

I can’t imagine how much Larkspur there would be

If I let it all “go to seed”.

So I’ve begun the process of pulling up Larkspur

And laying it on the garden house floor


To dry

So that I have seeds to share

With anyone who would like some.

And what goes in the space created

When I pull up the Poppies and Larkspur?

What else but

Zinnia and Cosmos seeds.

They will go through the same bud, bloom and seed process

During the second half of the season





And crazy Cockscomb



Will follow.

These are the things that give my garden that look of abundance.

They fill in between all the flowering shrubs and perennials.


So, though the actual plant dies after one season

The seeds fall to the ground

Waiting patiently for the next year.

Popping up in new and unexpected places.

Teaching me each season.

It’s the cycle of nature

A going backward

So that we can go forward.


Pay attention to it.

Take time to observe it.

It has much to teach us.




Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Cosmos, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, hollyhocks, Larkspur, Perennials, Poppy, roses, Seeds, self seeding annuals, spring, Uncategorized, Zinnia


Most women own way too many black clothes

I am among them

But we all know that black “goes with everything”

And it does.

So every time the fashion industry

Wants to sell a new color

They dub it

“The New Black”

I’ve decided that larkspur

Is the new

And the old

Black of the garden.


It truly does go with everything.

This spring is an amazing example.

I’ve been a little under the weather since the first of May

Very little time has been spent in the garden

As a result every single seed that dropped last spring.


Has bloomed and bloomed.

Never got around to thinning

Or just plain murdering

All that volunteer larkspur.

I’ve been cutting away at it

Making arrangements when needed.

But it hasn’t made a dent.

It’s everywhere

And it’s thick.

Some paths are impassable.


But it’s true.

It goes with everything.

Now we all know that purple and yellow

Are a great combination.


Being “secondary” cousins on the color wheel and all.

But it’s also great with pink roses


And crisp white lilies


And softer shades of yellow


And the more golden ones.


So when I was forced to the gardening sidelines in early May

And the A team took over

God knew exactly what to do.

Let the larkspur have its way.


Spread it everywhere

Bringing cheer and happiness to every corner.


Once again

Gardening echoes life

Or does life echo gardening?

Step aside – pull back – relax

God’s got it covered.




Filed under Flower Arrangements, Gardening, Gloriosa Daisy - Rudbeckia, Larkspur, Lilies, roses, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized



There’s nothing more scary than

Heavy equipment in your garden.

We had known it was coming for months now.

The utility company is replacing all the lines in our old neighborhood.

Somehow we had escaped destruction in the garden

When they were in the neighborhood all last fall

Laying the main lines.

But now it’s time to connect each of us to the new main lines.

Fortunately, though it didn’t seem fortunate at the time,

We had discovered a gas leak shortly after moving into this house.

Actually our friend Clark figured it out

From the circle of dead grass in the middle of the backyard.

So we have a new connecting line

With the meter placed at the house.

The preferred location.

All of this is important because

The main line

And the connecting line

Intersect at the back of my garden.

I was told last Friday

That my number would be up on Tuesday.

So I didn’t dare leave home.

And shortly after 8 they began.

Around 11:30 I discovered

A Bobcat in my backyard


Heading straight for the garden.

Luckily after a quick conversation

They broke for lunch

And I began digging plants

Filling the wheelbarrow.


They even found a leftover Easter Egg.

Filled with chocolate.

Which every girl needs

At such a stressful moment!

Most of the things in their path

Were pretty strong plants.



Tall Garden Phlox

Gloriosa Daisies

Lamb’s Ear

There were however some more finicky items.

Hollyhocks whose tap roots don’t make transplanting much fun.

Alliums which I simply cut and hoped for the best.


And the greatest loss

Purple Poppies.

I’ve never had purple poppies before.

I spotted these last year in my friend Becky’s garden.


She was able to remember the source of the seeds.

So I ordered a supply.


Held on to them through the fall and early winter.

Actually remembered I had them

Then found them

And sprinkled them on the snow

One day last winter.

This, I have learned, is the most effective way to plant poppies.

I had a really good stand of them


And was looking forward to their blooming

Going to seed

And making lots of purple poppy babies.


But they were right smack dab in the wrong place

For the Bobcat.

So I quickly found some empty space.

Dug holes for their new home

Before I even dug them


Then dug them with as much dirt as possible.

And popped them into their new home

With a good quick drink.

Will they make it?

I don’t know.

Time will tell.

It is only fair to report

That the utility crew

Was as gentle as they could

When you’re digging a hole to China


In a garden

At the end of May.

O Blah Dee O Blah Da … Life Goes On.



Filed under Allium, Gloriosa Daisy, hollyhocks, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

Time & Weeds

Border Dahlia

When people visit my garden.

They often ask 2 questions.

The first

“How much time do you spend here?”

The answer is simple.

Not as much as I like.

Tall Garden Phlox

Tall Garden Phlox

The last few summers have been well…hot!

Which means that my long summer Saturdays in the garden

Have been more like mornings and evenings.

But the truth is my garden does not require endless hours of work.

And because I enjoy it…it doesn’t seem like work at all.

I’ve also changed my expectations.

Endless hours outside just don’t seem to happen

So I do a bit here and a bit there.

It’s amazing how much can happen in a few minutes.

So I focus on weeding and deadheading in small areas.

Peg helps?

Peg helps?

Which brings me to the second question.

“Where are the weeds?’

Once again the answer is simple.


You just don’t notice them.

So how does this work.

There are two things that I’ve accidentally discovered

To keep the weeds away.

I’ve never planted according to instructions.

I almost always plant too close together.

Way to close together.

The pleasing results of overplanting

The pleasing results of overplanting

Which means the plants shade out the weeds.

Or simply don’t leave room for them to grow.

Granted it’s a little crowded

And some plants don’t have room to reach their full glory

But, for me, it works.

The second thing is those wonderful self-seeding annuals.

It begins with Larkspur in the early spring.

And ends with cockscomb from now till it freezes in the fall.

Throw in the zinnia and cosmos that I plant each year

And my garden is filled with “filler flowers”.

Zinnias & Cockscomb - "Filler Flowers"

Zinnias & Cockscomb – “Filler Flowers”

Which is better than “filler weeds”!

The truth is that lately I’ve been pulling up as many baby cockscomb plants

As I have weeds.

So you might think of it as a friendly weed

That blooms nicely.

And is great in arrangements.

"Filler Flower" arrangements

“Filler Flower” arrangements

I’m really trying to keep it out of the very front of my garden this year.

So, I guess it turns out that what some consider to be garden problems.

Are really just how you look at it.

Much like life!



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Filed under cockscomb, Daffodils, Dead Heading, Fall, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Larkspur, late summer garden, Perennials, self seeding annuals, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Zinnia


In his later years my dad was concerned about “going to seed”.

Well into his 80’s he was trying to keep the same pace of his busy life.

His theory was if  ” I sit down I’ll go to seed.”

Not something a farmer was interested in doing.

Parkinson’s disease slowed his pace but it never
stopped him.

The truth is his mind was a fertile seed bed.

Ideas grew there for almost 9 decades.

On a Thursday in September he called a meeting of long time trusted associates.

He traveled out-of-town to attend.

The topic was his latest idea to improve his beloved state.

He reminded them that he wouldn’t be around forever and that someone needed to take charge of this project.

A seed planted.

He died early the next Tuesday morning.

Having never gone to seed!

What a gift to him – to us.

But going to seed is in some ways a good thing.

A way forward.

A continuation.

Of ideas.

Of plants.

And that’s how it is in my garden.

Much of it goes to seed this time of year.

As I walk through the path the soft fern like leaves of spring’s Larkspur

Now rattle like a morocco.

Dried Larkspur

It’s time.

Pull them up.

Cut them down.

Shake a few into the garden for next year.

Think forward.

“To everything there is a season.”

The 3 day 4th of July weekend was spent doing just this.

Rising early I pulled up a mountain of Larkspur plants.

Next I cut the tall stems of Hollyhock to the ground.

Separating the pink from the red – I hope.

Then a little aggressive cutting back of purple Veronica Spicata.

Followed by the Purple Coneflower.

Purple Coneflower at peak bloom

And presto!

More open spaces for the last of the zinnia seeds.

And just in time for my self imposed deadline of the 4th!

Life is good!

So now the question of what to do with all those seed bearing plants.

Can’t compost them because it doesn’t get hot enough to actually kill the seed.

And too much of a good thing in the garden is well….a mess.

I’ll first let them finish drying.

On the floor of my garden house.

Pink Hollyhocks drying on the garden house floor

Outside on my old potting bench tucked into a shady corner.

Then, I’ll harvest some.

This year the rest are going to my sister Ann.

She’s just finished lots of work on the dam of the “big pond”.

It’s totally bare.

After a little ground work she’s going to spread them out and see what happens.

A wild idea.

The kind Daddy would like.




Filed under hollyhocks, Larkspur, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Uncategorized


You may remember earlier this spring I talked about wanting to learn more about
growing vegetables.

Working them into my existing perennial beds.

I decided that this was the year I would focus on Sugar Snap Peas.

See if I could improve on the yield.

I got them in right on time and they have rewarded me.

Looks like a good crop. 

Then just last week I reported that Peg, our Scottie, likes them.

It was even cute that John and Cassidy were feeding them to her.

It’s not cute anymore.

Earlier this week I was out picking a few peas when I heard a snap behind me.

Peg was helping herself.

I scolded her and went on about my evening.

When I went to the garden the next morning an entire row of peas had been

Peg in her zest to “eat local” had tromped down and munched through the row.

She promptly started on the next row.

We even caught her with pea stems hanging out of her mouth.


Well the whole area has now been fenced.

And re-fenced since she has broken in a couple of times.

I stopped just short of razor wire.

I’m sure she has fence marks all over her nose from breaking in.

So far the fencing is holding.

Hopefully I can outwit a Scottish Terrier!!!



The beginning of June is a glorious time in my garden.

The larkspur continues with its vivid purple.

It’s complemented by the gold of Stella d’ Ora miniature day lilies.

Asiatic Lilies begin to bloom.


Poppies are opening up here and there.

They are interesting at all stages.

From their droopy buds

To their short-lived blooms

To their seed pods left to dry out and reseed for the next year.

Self-seeding annuals provide a lot of fill-in flowers in my garden.

As well as tons of cutting potential.

A self-seeding annual is a flower that if left to mature ie. dry out in the
garden will drop seeds and make lots of babies next year.

So even though the plant does not make it through the winter you will likely have
that type of plant in your garden each year.

You just never know where they will pop up.

The flowers that self-seed in my garden are Columbine, Poppies, Larkspur, Hollyhock,
Cleome and Cockscomb.


I also get a few Zinnias.

Now…this  sounds like a good deal.

And it is…to a point.

Free seeds.

No planting.

But you have absolutely no control over when they come up.

Or where they come up.

Or how many come up.

And because I compost the old plants at the end of their lives I end up with plants


This is most true of Cleome and Cockscomb.

They lay a carpet of seedlings.

There comes a time when some of them have to go.

Yes, friends, Peg is not the only murderess at our house.

I’ll spend the week pulling up and composting thousands of baby plants.

So how do I decide who lives and who dies?

There are a few bits of logic to apply here.

Since both Cleome and Cockscomb will get about shoulder high I will start at the
front of the garden.

Everything within the first foot of the edge should go.

Now, I do this every year but somehow they find their way back.

Next I’ll make sure that they are not growing up in the middle of other plants –
like rose bushes and tomatoes.

Then I’ll pull them up from the middle of the paths.

Cockscomb and Cleome gone wild in path

And finally I’ll go into the open areas and thin away.

A few years back I thought I’d just let them all live and see what happens.

Not a good idea.

They are so crowded that nothing really matures and comes into its own.

So…it has to be done.

Come fall I’ll be glad. 

My garden will turn from the pales of early spring

To the hot colors of the heat of summer

Followed by the richness of fall.

Cockscomb will come fully into its own.

Fall flower arrangement with cockscomb

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now I’ll just thin.

Knowing that it’s the best thing for everyone.





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Filed under cleome, cockscomb, Columbne, hollyhocks, self seeding annuals