Habitat Earth and Our Gardens
More Free Plants

I love free plants

I've been thinking that a different name might also have been appropriate for my book, which is titled Wildly Successful Plants: Northern California  I could have called it Free Plants and How to Grow them Well. They are all plants that naturallize, meaning that they regrow, from seed, cuttings, divisions, bulbs, etc. Professional gardeners sometimes call them "the free stuff" and use them to replace expensive plants that have died in gardens. All of these plants can be had for free, by asking for a start or for seeds from someone who has them, or by starting more of them from your own starts or seeds.

Yesterday I was reaping the benefits of some nice reseeders in my garden. They are annual plants, ones that reseed themselves in less than a year and then die. In a shady part of the garden, I have been transplanting some self-sown seedlings of Ipatiens balfourii. This plant flowers in full shade, bearing two-tone lavender flowers of an interesting form. In fact, some call it the Poor Man's Orchid. (Maybe Poor Woman's as well?) In any case it is pretty and the flowers dance nicely in the slightest breeze. A few reseed every year and I always have enough.

I started Paludosum daisy in a friend's garden, where it reseeds lightly. I brought home 4 plants, added them to the one seedling I found in my garden, and placed them strategically to add their little white daisies to my fall sun garden. Then I found seedlings of an annual mentioned in the book, Echium vulgare 'Blue Bedder'. I planted 5 of those where they will hold their blue flowers above and behind the paludosum daisies. They will be between the daisies and the California native perennial Grindelia, or gum plant. This one will be covered with yellow flowers in the fall, so I will have the blue between the yellow and the white, with the yellow centers of the daisies to echo the yellow and tie the planting together.

Hmm. Since I was in propagating mode, I found myself eyeing the Grindelia. Would a cutting work to make more plants? No, my research says it will work better to layer the plant, that is bury the middle of a couple of the leaning over branches and see if they will make roots. Think I will try it. I love free plants.


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