Starting Garden Hunt And Saving Landscape Volunteers

By Kent Higgins

There is still time to hunt around your garden, salvage the stray seedlings of hardy flowers and line them out in cold frames. I particularly look for those of Cardinal-flowers, the giant lobelia, for they seem to prefer to seed in my paths rather than the beds where I want them to grow. You may want to look for seedlings of delphiniums, gaillardia, coreopsis, or any other hardy flowers that self sow here and there around your garden. Put them in the cold frame under sash and you will get an amazing amount of growth on them before things freeze up this fall.

Start Woody Plants

It seems odd this fall not to be gathering seeds of trees and shrubs for propagation meetings during November. But you can do it for yourself. Whenever you see an interesting woody plant that has some fruits on it, gather a few seeds. Some time before Christmas you can plant these. I like the system of using small pots. Fill the pot with a mixture of about one-third sand and two-thirds soil to within half an inch of the top. Remove all the pulp from the seeds and plant a dozen or two seeds to a 4 inch or 6 in pot. Cover them with a quarter inch of soil. Label them. If you want to read them next spring use a pot label and write on it with a sharpie pen.

Just put the pots on top of the ground out back of the garage, or alongside the house and forget them until next spring. Unless you interfere with Mother Nature it's almost impossible to stop the seeds from coming up next spring. After they are an inch or two high you can transplant them to a row in the vegetable garden or in a little nursery bed.

Some seeds particularly easy to grow are bittersweet, the many privets, rose of Sharon, redbud, golden-rain tree, bush honeysuckles, Chinese cork-tree, if there happen to be any in your neighborhood, and flowering dogwood. These are just a few. In the case of maples, it is better to sow these seeds immediately before they dry out. Try the magnolias and sago palm after removing the pulp but don't expect more than 25 per cent of them to come up. Try hollies after removing the pulp, but don't expect more than five per cent to come up. If you sow any of the viburnums label them well for they may not come up until the second year. You should gather some of sago palm seeds fairly soon or the birds will beat you to it. Oh yes, be sure to include the flowering crabapples and the flowering quinces. Even the butterfly bush (Buddleia) and the lilacs are surprisingly easy.

Most of these seeds must be fall sown since they require two or three months of low temperature, (that is, under 41 degrees) before they will germinate. They do not have to freeze, as we used to believe.

Stop and think which trees, which shrubs, which vines, give you the most brilliant autumn colors. Start making a list of them this fall. Among the shrubs the winged euonymus (Euonymus alatus) would probably be the winner. Among the vines the native five leaf ivy (Virginia creeper or woodbine), and the poison ivy will fight it out for first place. Among the trees, depending on the season and the particular specimen, it may be the sumac, sweet gum, the sour gum, the sugar maple, or the sour wood (Oxydendrum). If you have the space, plant some of these (any but the poison ivy) in your garden this fall for next year's enjoyment. - 29857

About the Author:

Sign Up for our Free Newsletter

Enter email address here