Monday, March 18, 2013

Here Comes California’s Heavenly Season...... FAQs

seedling photosWildflower seedlings are now making good growth, having germinated with the fall and winter rains. Soon, they will be bursting into bloom. Tip: Rain in January and February is critical for a good spring bloom. Since it has been a record-breaking dry spell, provide irrigation now where and if you can.   
We've been asked if it's too late to sow in February and March. Not if you are willing to provide irrigation for early germination and to make good root growth. We sow wildflower seed in the ground as late as April.
We've frequently been asked to supply images of seed leaves (the first to emerge from the seed) and true leaves (the first to assume the shape of the plant's juvenile leaves) to facilitate weeding. We’re slowly building up a seedling photo library. So look for them in our online catalog and on our Facebook page.
They frequently make a fascinating contrast – idea for new board game! Matching seed leaves with the correct true leaves. Coming soon! Looking for a good name!
Horticultural Play with Wildflowers
We are hooked on growing wildflowers in 4” pots. We started doing it as a form of germination testing and as a way to help us and our clients to distinguish the “good” plants in a wildflower sowing from the weeds. Just 4-10 seeds per pot.
We use a cold greenhouse till they germinate, but it’s not really necessary. What is necessary, now that we’ve created such good habitat for the winged creatures, is that we protect the tender seedlings with bird netting, till they are a bit too tough to be appealing to the winged creatures.
These 4” pots can then be planted out, either in the ground or in containers. We keep sowing and then planting through the fall, winter, and early spring. The plants get confused enough that their bloom times are changed and extended. It’s a way of mixing things up, creating effects and combinations not seen in nature. Note in the image below, planted from 4” containers, that baby-blue –eyes is blooming with Monterey Clarkia, a beautiful combination for this entry garden. 
baby blue-eyes, with Monterey Clarkia
Another example is a planting of white baby blue eyes from last year. It started blooming in January, months ahead of its scheduled bloom time, and is just slowing down now. Planting through the fall and winter allows us to play with wildflowers. Some odd behavior results….and it’s fun.
We’ve noted that bird’s eye gilia, Gilia tricolor, hasn’t stopped blooming since last year, in containers that received consistent watering. Globe gilia, Gilia capitata, is almost as hardy and long-lived. Once Showy Farewell to Spring, Clarkia amoena, turned into the size of a small shrub and lived two years.
vine maple We offered shrub seeds again this fall and winter, and here are seed and true leaves of the beauteous shrub Vine Maple, Acer circinatum.  Just moved here from Vermont and missing fall color?  Try Vine Maple. Use it where you might have planted Japanese Maple. It’s about the same size, just as graceful, and the flowers, gorgeous when examined closely, are very edible.

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