Friday, February 8, 2013

How Mother Nature Plants a Flower Bed

I noticed lots of lush green along the side of the driveway where it loops around to the equipment barn.

Lush, green, lots of weeds.
I could not identify this big plant. It looks
as if it might be good to eat.
I saw Cudweed, Ladies' Bedstraw, Chickweed, Dandelions. Ryegrass reseeded from last winter.

There is a Dog Fennel, Bittercress, wild Violets, Dichondra;
fewer Henbit and Florida Betony than I'm seeing elsewhere.

There is even a rose campion seedling.

Then I saw this. Clumps of this as if they'd been sown among the chickweed and grass.
I felt the leaves. They are fuzzy, almost sticky. Familiar!
Then I saw these!
Laura Bush Petunias.
There are dozens of plants, covering a space more than 30 feet long.
As best I can tell, those are seeds from the Petunias that used to grow and 
reseed in front of the boxwoods here. When I swept the driveway back
in the fall, seeds collected on the other side of the driveway and then
the lightweight seeds were scattered like dust on northwest winds.
I pointed out this planting to He-who-mows and I marked it with rebar posts so he doesn't forget.
I'm thinking of what to add: Sweet William? There are two trays of perhaps white Dianthus barbadus waiting to be planted. Seeds of Purple Alternanthera? Sweet Alyssum?  This is probably not going to be a permanent bed but I'll see how well I can weed out the undesirables, leaving cudweed for American Painted Lady butterfly larvae. 
It would have been too much trouble to have started a flower bed here. It's a rain garden, planted by Mother Nature and watered by rain pouring off the tractor shed.


  1. I love these kinds of beds! I need to get some Laura bush. I hope it will self seed for me here. So far, I am not seeing any returning petunias so I ordered new seeds. They seem to self-seed for a few years and then disappear.

    I would have to tie white flags to the rebar for my DH! He doesn't mow, but he does get alarmingly close to my flower beds with the ATV.

  2. I too have petunias popping up in strange places. Also the Sweet Alyssum. Plants that self seed seem like a gift in a way. They battle so many environmental hurdles just to take root and I always marvel where they grow. I have had petunias bloom between the cracks in my paving.

  3. Hi NellJean....This is my first visit to your blog. I really like your gardens. That mystery plant looks a lot like Polk Salad. A plant I'd never heard of until I moved to Tennessee eight years ago. I just love self-seeding plants and usually let them grow where ever they come up. I look forward to visiting again!!

  4. I thought it looked like Poke Salet, too. When I smelled it, I had doubts. Gonna watch it for a while.

  5. I think the mystery plant looks like Sweet Basil leaves look too thin for Poke Salad.

  6. I love your volunteer petunias. It always gives me joy to find plants that I love blooming where I don't expect them to be (like the Siberian irises that come up between the steps leading up to my back door :-)). -Jean

  7. I love surprises like this! Those petunias are beauties. :o) Sweet alyssum would smell great and look good against that dark purple.

  8. The larger leaf plant does look a bit like basil from the picture but it to me looks like an amaranth or pigweed? Maybe?

  9. It doesn't smell like basil and it isn't slick like basil. Probably a pigweed. I'll know before I let it set seeds, lol.

    Alyssum would be great, if I find the seeds I tucked away.

    Now I have volunteers in what was to be an all-white bed by the greenhouse. Tomatoes! From the compost, I guess. We may have Tommy-toes instead of pretties.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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