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SPRING- Bring it!

Anne Jaeger

….Feeling a tad bit scattered so far? Without fail, February is the month when my memory starts to “fail” again. Yes, I start slipping. I forget my constant mental reminders about writing the new year on my checks and revert back to last year’s date. Some things never change. History repeats itself. And I say “Thank Goodness!” Most gardeners delight in history, sentiment, revival and renewal. Case in point, aren’t we longing for history to repeat itself and bring spring to the garden right about now? The repetitition of seasons allow us the opportunity to reminisce about that one rose or special flower each year. There are flowers in my garden I dream about greeting again. When that bud opens it is like seeing an old friend. I often talk to the flower at our long awaited meeting “Don’t you look wonderful this year; I was wondering when I’d see you again.” I notice my chest puffs up like a spring chicken during our nature chat.

Sentimental feelings percolate this time of year when there’s more soil than plants showing in my garden and when the seed catalogues arrive like clockwork.  So as I wistfully thumb through the kaleidoscope colors in seed catalogues I usually come up with a plan. Make a smaller investment in seeds which are easily sowed outdoors. I’m talking about seeds which require no more than to be scattered like rose petals before a bride. Seeds “sow” easy even chickens could scratch them in. This does not require the usual preplanning; greenhouses full of seeds, planting them in individual trays and nurturing sprouts under a grow light, then preparing them to plant outdoors. No, my proposal is “autobiographical” in nature: A scatterbrain’s solution to scattering seeds directly outside.

Perhaps my favorites would interest you. Flower seeds known for low work and high reward. I’ve outlined where the seeds should be scattered by indicating the smallest plants should be sown in front of your planting bed, medium growers behind and tallest in back.  Rule of thumb? Start at the back with the tallest plant seeds and work forward so you aren’t stepping on your work on the way back.

Low Growing: (Front of the planting bed)

Candytuft 9-12” High Flower pedal heads resemble pin cushions, in white, lilac, maroon, light or hot pink.

Eschscholzia (California poppy) 8-12” High. Intense yellows, pinks, orange, apricot fluted flowers with crinkled or smooth petals.

Limnanthes (Poached Eggs) 6” High. Carpet of yellow, pink, white flowers with five flat open petals.

Nasturtium 6-12” High. Leaves like lily pads with flowers in a wide range of colors from creamy white to orange and bright red.







Mid-growers: (Middle of the planting bed)

Adonis (Pheasant’s Eye) 18” High.  Blood red flower with black centers.

Calendula (Pot Marigold) 10-24” High. Daisy-like flowers in orange, golden yellow or creamy white.

Centaurea (Cornflower) 4-30” High. Blue, yellow, pink, white or almost black flowers. Godetia (Clarkia) 12-18” High.  Ruffled petals in rose, pink, salmon, bluish/purple.



Tallest growers: (Back of the planting bed)

Ammi (Queen Ann’s Lace) 4 ft High. Lacy white flower heads with fern like leaves. Larkspur (Annual Delphinium) 12”-4ft High. Blue, pink, slate grey, purple, white flowers on tall spires

Helichrysum (Straw Flower) 2-3 ft High. Bright daisy-like flowers in white, yellow orange, pink. Cut flowers dry easily and last years indoors.

Nigella (Love-in-a-Mist) 2-3 ft High. Fat star shaped pedals in white, pink, blue with delicate, lacy leaves.


Now is the time to order. The best varieties with the most unusual flower colors are the first to sell out. Read the directions on the back of the seed packets and try to spread the seeds evenly. So, depending on the size of the seeds, a salt or pepper shaker works wonders with smaller seeds or a parmesan cheese shaker works with a mixture of larger seeds and seed starting soil sprinkled hither and yon to get good coverage. Rose Marie Nichols McGee owner of Nichols Garden Nursery (a 50 year old seed company in Albany, Oregon) once gave me sage advice “Go ahead try it. Your ancestors have been doing it for thousands of years. Seeds are easy!” Heck, why not.


Finding Seed Catalogues:


Thompson and Morgan 1-800-466-4769 thompson-morgan.com

Nichols Garden Nursery (800)422-3985 nicholsgardennursery.com or visit: 1190 Old Salem Road NE Albany, Oregon

Territorial Seed Company territorial-seed.com (800) 626-0866