Seed Haul - Picking Wildflowers
One more off topic... Technically it's food for the pollinators and that in turn pollinates our food in the garden... Anyway!
Several years ago, I dug up the center section of the yard for a wildflower patch and actually scattered wildflower mixture seed all over it. There have been some flowers throughout, but it never was as showy as I wanted. The whole point of it is to have a resting spot for the pollinators that have to fly over acres and acres of row crops to get to a good food source.
Last year, instead of just broadcasting seed, I started treating the area as a flower bed and set up paths, trellises and separate stone rimmed beds to plant into. While I'm happy with the result of that, I ran out of oomph to complete the area after breaking my finger last summer. It's basically a weedy mass at this point. I have seeds saved and seeds I purchased last year to plant in there. BUT... I found all kinds of new to me and pretty varieties of flowers, some annual and some perennial, to plant in the Bee and Butterfly Garden. (That is not what I was calling it last year when I wasn't able to complete it like I wanted; something like F'd Up Flower Bed or something like that.) There were plans for a bench and a solar fountain and all kinds of wonderful things for the bees and butterflies. It just didn't get finished. Cross your paws for better weather and circumstances this year!
My favorite flowers to grow over anything else are Zinnias. I have quite a bit of zinnia seed on hand already and I tend to do the mix up jar situation with them as well. Then I save buckets and bags of the seed hybrids that the bugs created for me. This year from Pinetree I'm adding: Profusion Double Deep Salmon Zinnia which looks just like the name sounds; Giant Wine Zinnia, with big deep wine colored blooms; and Giant Lime Zinnia, with big lime green blooms. From Baker Creek I added; Pink Senorita Zinnia which is a medium salmon color, a double bloom but with a pronounced center of yellow.
Cosmos are a close second in the flower world for me. The breeze nods the flower heads so prettily. I'm adding Yellow Cosmos from Pinetree; a light yellow version of the flower pictured above, with a white ring around the center. From Baker Creek, I'm planting Apricotta, which is a light salmon pink with ruffled petals.
Marigolds are not one of my usual favorites, but they are immensely useful in the garden for repelling pests of various kinds. Pinetree had Orange Gem Marigolds, a single flower, 5 petals with a deep orange center with lighter orange tips. So pretty!
Rudbeckia are a daisy-style plant with sturdy stems and leaves. There are both perennial and annual varieties. They come in a variety of colors and single/double blooms. Territorial Seed Co had Cappuccino Rudbeckia; deep maroon in the center and the outside tips of the petals are gold, single blooms. Pinetree was prolific with Sahara; a mixture of muted mauve and salmon with double blooms. Prairie Sun; bright orange with green centers and yellow tipped single blooms. Cherry Brandy; deep red almost black with cherry red petal tips, single blooms.
Echinacea (Coneflower) are beneficial in the garden for use even on yourself for various ailments but especially immune system support. They are also beautiful and come in an array of colors and flower styles as well. I'm not sure if the colorful ones are as powerful to use as an herb as the original purple coneflowers are. Pinetree had Mellow Yellow, which is a light lemon color with a single layer of petals with a dark center. Seeds N Such had Green Twister seeds. I've wanted this coneflower for years; it has the regular tall chocolate brown cone in the center and the petals are a single layer, purple around the center and each petal has a tip of lime green!
Poppies intrigue me. I am not good at growing them. I was given some seed from another jar lady last year and didn't get them planted. According to her (she is in Wisconsin), they reseed readily. I think that will add alot to the flower beds. Poppies have several different types AND also come in annual and perennial varieties within each type. Then I found some more to try while I was shopping for other flower seeds.... Territorial had 2 mixes to try; Jimi's Flag which all have the traditional Danish flag markings but come in a variety of colors, burgundy, purple, red, white and pink. The Thai silk mix is shorter with a mixture of bright colors, yellow, orange, red, and some of the blooms have more than one color in them. Baker Creek had several to try: Lauren's Grape; while I'm not a big purple fan, it's a pretty lilac color with a royal purple flag inside the bloom. Black Swan; a frizzy double bloom in deep red. Amazing Grey; which is exactly as it sounds a lavender gray color, some blooms double, some single and with some white edging and/or centers.
There's always a few stragglers to try of various flower types: Territorial had Grace Shell Pink Clarkia, which is supposed to smell heavenly and last a long time in the vase, the blooms are cream with apricot edges. Baker Creek had Oriental Lanterns Snapdragons that will just be a foot tall; they are yellow with a red beard. Incredible Sea Shells Mix Coreopsis also came from Baker Creek and it's an array of rolled petal flowers of every color and color combination you can think of for a coreopsis. I saw a youtuber planting Catmint last year and decided to try Pink Panther from Baker Creek; it makes a nice mound of a plant that doesn't take over and will be great tucked in corners. I've tried Agastache before and it took over the flower bed where I was living at the time. I'm trying Raspberry Daiquiri from Baker Creek this year and we will see how the fragrant raspberry colored flowers behave.
I also picked up Mullein from Baker Creek to keep from having to harvest it at the farm and worrying about it having gotten sprayed with chemicals.
Milkweed is something I've planted every year in the wildflower garden and will continue to do so for the butterflies. I purchased every variety I could find. Pinetree had Common Milkweed, which I assume is what I'm used to seeing on the roadsides. Baker Creek had Ice Ballet (white blooms), Hello Yellow (bright yellow orange blooms), and Soulmate (pinky purple blooms). Territorial had Swamp Milkweed which I'm guessing is also similar to roadside milkweed, Butterfly Milkweed which has orange blooms, and Showy Milkweed which has fringed foliage and rose pink star shaped blooms. Let's hope all these help keep the butterfly population up!
I plant pansies/violas every spring in the planters out front. I love their little "faces"! Sometimes the starts I buy are labeled as Viola and sometimes Pansy. I believe they are of the same family and some varieties are perennial and some are annuals. I treat most all as annuals and always enjoy surprise plants each spring from what survived or reseeded. There are more and more color combinations all the time. Pinetree had Honeybee, which is bright yellow with a dark tan to maroon "face". Baker Creek had Laeta Fire, which is light yellow with a maroon face and purple edging on the petals. They also had Miniola Heart Aqua with a bright yellow face, black whiskers, lime green on the base petals that fade to sky blue at the top. Quite striking!
There's a large old maple tree next to the front door of the house and I built a round raised bed around it. I was planning on some impatiens around there but Baker Creek had 2 fancy Coleus that I've got to try; Colocha Rose and Colocha Sunset. Both have ruffled leaves with deep cut lobes. The Rose has magenta leaf centers and lime green edges. The Sunset has salmon centers fading to light orange and the leaves are edged in spring green.
Whew! That covers the seed haul this year. I set a budget and stuck within it. I can't wait to see how well I do starting seeds this year. What flowers are your favorites to grow?