Ever since Hurricane Harvey I have been swamped at work. Twelve hour days with a three hour commute do not leave a lot of time for gardening. This past weekend I finally got a break. Since the weather was great I took full advantage of the last weekend of daylight savings time to plant a few perennials and lots and lots of larkspur and poppies in my latest garden adventure.
I am currently working, very slowly I might add, on a new oval shaped yard flanked by a mixed bed that will include flowering perennials, bulbs and annuals. While the beds are still far from finished, I used this past weekend to further remove the weeds, prep the soil and plant the first of my foundation plants (Tacoma Sans, Climbing Pinkie rose and a trailing lavender lantana) and some white Datura seeds. Once this was done I broadcast the entire tilled area with four ounces of Rocket Larkspur Tall Mix and one ounce of red Pepperbox Poppies that I bought online from Eden Brothers (The Seediest Place on Earth).
While I absolutely love poppies and larkspur I have not planted any in a few years. And that is one of the reasons I love them. Since both of these beautiful spring plants are prolific self-seeders you can generally plant them once and then enjoy them year after year. Mine did this reliably – until I got chickens. While my wife and I love our hens, our gardens have paid the price for that love. Before chickens my poppies and larkspur would bloom reliably each spring and then either drop their seeds naturally or allow me to collect them and spread them myself. After chickens, all the plants in my beds paid a price for their constant scratching. However, the poppies and larkspur paid the ultimate price.
This past spring my wife and I missed our bright red poppies and our blue, pink and lavender larkspur so much that we decided that the chickens would get to live in a very lovely and large fenced yard, and we would once again fill our beds with flowers.
Larkspur and poppies are very easy to grow. Since their seeds are so tiny, it is easiest to plant them in a broadcast manner. Broadcast simply means throw them out on top of prepared soil and gently water them in. As I mentioned earlier I lightly tilled my new beds then I raked them smooth. After that I poured the seeds in my hand and began to throw them out on top of the soil. Once complete I raked the bed again and then walked around in it to try and ensure that the seeds made good contact with the soil. After that I turned on a sprinkler and let it run for about 30 minutes.
While easy to grow, there are a few tricks you can use to ensure the highest germination rate of your poppy and larkspur seeds. First, plant at the right time. Almost all cool season spring flowers, including wildflowers, need to be planted in the fall. I actually planted a little late this year. While I am sure they will be fine I would have preferred to get them in by late September or early October. To get the most even coverage of your bed be sure to spread your seeds when there is no wind. These seeds are tiny and even a small breeze can carry many of them away before they hit the ground. You can also get great coverage, make your seeds go further, and reduce the threat of wind loss by mixing them with sand before you spread them. After your seeds are down water them in gently. Too much water, or water that has too much pressure, can wash away many of your seeds before they get a chance to sprout.
I once read a quote that said “No garden is better than next year’s garden”. I love this quote because it speaks to me about the optimism gardeners feel each and every time we plant. I can honestly say that thanks to my poppy and larkspur seeds I am as excited about next year’s garden as any garden I have ever had. Nothing picks up my spirits more than the promise of beds full of beautiful spring flowers.
My wife recently spent a lovely afternoon with Nelda Eubank of Austin. Nelda is the mother of an old friend, a long time gardener and a long time reader of the blog. She has been a little under the weather lately. Hope the promise of next year’s garden helps get her on her way to a full recovery.