By: Kathryn Courtney
I will readily admit I’m a sucker for a good cottage garden. I like the beauty of the structure and chaos that comes with colorful spring flowers. Whether you like cottage gardens or more formal flower gardens, starting spring flowers from fall seeds is the way to get every kind of flower your heart desires. Most native Texans know to plant bluebonnets, indian paintbrush and indian blanket flower in the fall. Wildflower seed mixes are very popular and a good way to get all your wildflowers in one packet.To sew a wildflower space, mow or rake the area for the seed. I hand sew my wildflowers but you can also sew them with spreaders. Add sand to the seed to help disperse them evenly. Rake lightly over the seed and water them with a mist attachment for your hose. Some Texans even dance on their wildflower seeds so the seeds will be firmly planted. Be sure to mark your area so that you will remember where your wildflowers will come up. The spring display will make you happy just looking at it.
What I like to do is plant cottage garden type flowers in patches around my garden with tall structural plants toward the back of the garden and the mid height and smaller flowers toward the front. In the spring I like to mix colors so I don’t worry much about matching color.If you want matching color it is easy to do with seed because of the large variety of flowers to choose from. Decide on a color palette and then start matching flowers. It’s a lot of fun. Some flower seeds require prep work to germinate. Larger seed such as hollyhocks, nasturtiums, sweat peas and others benefit from a good soak in luke warm water. Soaking for 3 hours to overnight will help with germination along with scratching the seed with sandpaper. Poppy seeds also like about a 3 hour soak. Once your seeds are prepped its time to get the garden ready. Mark places in your garden where each type of flower will go. Like Pat, I like to put a layer of earthworm castings over my garden soil to give the seeds a good start. It only takes an inch or two of castings and will improve your germination rate tremendously. After you have everything placed to make you happy, sprinkle your seeds over the castings and water with the mist setting attachment. Be sure to mark what seeds you planted where. I usually use some type of rock marked with the seed name and date. Take pictures of your seed areas and things around it so if the marker goes missing you will still know where your seeds are. In the fall there are not many bugs to worry about. You do need to worry about snails so a good organic snail bait like Sluggo will save your seedlings. After spreading and watering your seeds, find a comfortable lawn chair and admire your work. Now sit back and wait for spring and your beautiful Easter garden.
Here is a list of my favorite spring flowers from seed:
Bluebonnets, Bachelor Buttons, Calendula, Celosia, Cleome, Columbine, Cornflower, Cosmos, Cottage Pinks, Dahlias, Delphinium, Forget me Nots, Foxgloves, Hollyhocks, Larkspur (my personal favorite), Lobelia, Monarda (Beebalm), Nigella, Pansies, Petunias, Poppies, Scabiosa, Stock (my other favorite), Sweat Peas, Sweet William, and Wallflower.
Take your pick! You can see by the list that there is every color and type of spring flower you could wish for. We have Botanical Interest, Renee’s Garden and Seed Savers Exchange seed. Start a new fall tradition with fall seed plantings. I promise spring will delight you.