By Mark Montoya
I suppose that there are some good things that can come of a recession. Traveling within our state for the past two weekends, I have noticed that the wildflowers are exceptionally plentiful. What a delight to see the results of not mowing the grass along the highways this spring! In your upcoming travels, I hope you can take note of some of these wildflowers. I have grouped them by color because that is what you will notice first:
These are among the first to bloom, and there are more to come as June approaches. I plant wildflowers in my garden every year; many of the plants reseed themselves, and I also collect seeds for planting from the dried blossoms or the seed pods. These poppies reseeded from plants last year, which were initially grown from seeds given by a friend.
If you are interested in having your own wildflowers for next spring and summer, it’s not too early to plan for their winter sowing. Now is a good time to consider where you want to have them. Select one of the sunniest spots in your garden. Then, get your seeds. In addition to collecting seeds, I buy my wildflower seeds at Lowe’s (in a can or bag) and wait until the winter to sow them. Try to get your seeds now, because they may not be available later in the year. Most retailers tend to sell plant and seeds only in the spring, thinking that’s the only time people are inspired to work in the garden.
In the months from December to February, broadcast seeds on the surface of the ground. Then, scratch the soil with a hard rake wherever you sprinkled the seeds—this will gently incorporate them into the soil. Wildflowers are so easy, you don’t even have to make a big effort to prepare the soil or ‘plant’ them. While doing this, you can plant Pansies, Sweet William, Foxglove, and other winter bedding plants in the same area for winter color.
Winter is the best time to sow these seeds, and from the spring into the summer you will have a bounty of assorted wildflowers that will surprise and amaze you every day. Using this method, I am presently growing Calendula, Bachelor Buttons, Verbena, Phlox, Alyssum, Baby’s Breath, various Poppies, Cosmos, Forget-Me-Nots — and some things yet to bloom which I can’t identify! All these flowers are planted in 40 square feet, bordered with boxwood, and cost only $10.00 last year. In addition to the colors and variety, I’ll sow more in the same spot, let the poppies reseed, and have even more next year!
Mark Montoya is a Montgomery native who first learned gardening from his father. He has designed, planted and nurtured gardens in our city’s neighborhoods — both old and new – for twenty years.