Posts Tagged With: wildflowers

Wild Ones and Volunteers

African Daisies still going bonkers in a few spots.

African Daisies still going bonkers in a few spots.

My wildflowers reach the end of their life cycle this month. MSH keeps insisting I just need to water them. To appease him, I have drenched the poor worn out plants with copious amounts of the precious resource, to no avail. Well, that’s not exactly true. The weeds appreciate the extra moisture and show their appreciation by growing a foot in a day, or at least it seems they do.

No, sad to say, my wildflowers have simply reached the stage in their life cycle where they produce seeds and then let the winds scatter their progeny willy-nilly. By time a healthy seed head appears, the plant itself has given its all, nearly five months from peeking out of the ground to now.

This seed head looks promising.

This seed head looks promising.

Now’s the part of the wildflower process where the hard work kicks in. If I want to share any of the seeds, which I like to, then I gather the puffs of seed heads into a bucket and distribute them into Ziploc bags. These little guys, African Daisies, will grow in almost any climate, even in a regular garden bed during late spring and summer, as long as they get the full sun.

It’s a little trickier gathering the California Poppy seeds. They form in long pods after the flower bloom ends. The seeds aren’t much bigger than a grain of sand. I gather the pods before they open and let them dry out in a container. When the seeds are ready the pod splits open on its own and releases the seeds where they fall to the bottom of the container.

The other much harder part of wildflowering in my rock covered desert landscape is that every plant must be plucked from the ground and disposed of. Usually I pull a few plants a day as they slowly die off, which isn’t too difficult. But this year, there are more plants than ever and we had a really hot patch of weather last week that sped up the process of end of life.

So I’m faced today with the task of cleaning up the dead and dying. It’s a little sad. The yard starts to look bare and desert-ish again. My flowerpots in the shade of the front porch provide my only color fix out there.

Yet in this undertaking (excuse the pun) I have hope, because hundreds or probably more like thousands, of seeds have fallen among the rocks and next years bloom looks promising.

I suppose what I love about wildflowers lies in their self-propagating properties. They voluntarily show up, without any work on my part.

If you aren’t familiar with gardening terms:

“a volunteer is a plant that grows on its own, rather than being deliberately planted by a farmer or a gardener.” ~ Wikipedia

I once had a tree seed blow in and grow in the middle of a series of garden beds. Turns out it was a Brazilian Pepper Tree that grew very quickly. In a matter of three years I had a tall, full tree that provided shade for a south-facing kitchen window. Another time, in the middle of a compost pile, I had a cantaloupe vine grow that gave out the sweetest fruit I’d ever tasted.

Unplanned, yet perfect, colors in my garden.

Unplanned color in my garden.

All winter I had meant to plant vegetable seeds in the open spaces of my back yard flower bed; combine utility with beauty for a perfect combination. I set in a few tomato plants, but that’s all. The deliberate planting never happened. Life and death and illness took hold for a while and got in the way of my good intentions.

And yet, almost miraculously, my back yard flowerbed overflows with nearly all volunteers this spring. Some flowers simply survived the very mild winter, with only one night of below freezing temperatures covered by a sheet. The red Penstemon apparently throw out seeds because they’re spreading and blooming proficiently. A few Sunflower seeds planted themselves from last years batch and have made themselves comfy among the Romaine lettuce and Petunias. Marigolds reseeded themselves as well and threaten a yellow takeover once they start blooming. And Cosmos, with their feathery stalks have already flowered in neon pink, the children of last years few seeds I tried for the first time.

Looking out the back window provides a view of this unplanned but stunning flowerbed at all times of the day.

Not being in too much of a gardening disposition this past winter, I’ve been lucky to have so many plants volunteer to brighten my life. Sometimes, in spite of lack of attention, or maybe because of it, nature sends surprises to delight and lift and cheer.

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Categories: Gardening, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Weeds and Wildflowers

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful for the tiny green shoots of wildflowers I have popping out all over my front yard.  There’s a promise in those sprouting weed-like growths. I know even though they look like weeds, and grow like weeds, they aren’t weeds. They’re going to produce masses of yellow and orange African Daisies and bunches of satiny orange California Poppies in another four to six weeks.

To appease the HOA I set out a couple of signs that say, “Wildflowers Under Construction.” I don’t really want to pay a fine for my “weeds” or get out some mean weed killing chemical.  I want to see the yard burst into golden waves of color.

wildflowers under constructionI find the symbolism of these flowers particularly appropriate for the challenges I face in my life, large or small.  What appears as something terrible, something troublesome, with time, often, not always, but often, in the long run becomes something positive and memorable.  I’m not about to proclaim gratitude for trials, oh no, not me. But I am willing to concede that I learn from going through hard times.

There’s a beautiful song, written by Stephen Foster, which I found particularly moving a few years back when the tides of trouble breached all levees and inundated my life.  It became an anthem for me of sorts, or a prayer, which I still hum often and think out loud and verbalize while on my knees.

“Let us pause in life’s pleasures to count its many tears,

While we all sup sorrow with the poor;

There’s a song that will linger forever in our ears;

Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis the song, the sigh of the weary,

Hard times, hard times, come again no more.

Many days you have lingered around my cabin door;

Oh hard times, come again no more.”

For me, as for many, if not all, hard times are not a one time event.  Hard things press in on us and weigh us down with a weight that is unfathomable. Finding a small thing like the shoots of wildflowers pushing through the weight of rocky soil can bring hope and send a song through the air that lifts the weight ever so slightly.

Looking For Signs

I look for signs of hope all around me. Not just in springtime harbingers, but in everyday life.  A newborn’s mewling cry. A teen’s energetic laughter. An older couple holding hands. Help being offered when a need presents itself. Kindness extended, smiles proffered, handshakes offered. Birds chirping. A toddler’s rowdy chaos. Blue skies.

The lyrics of this haunting song continue:

“While we seek mirth and beauty and music light and gay,

There are frail forms fainting at the door;

Their voices are silent, their pleading looks will say

Oh hard times come again no more.

Tis a sigh that is wafted across the troubled wave,

Tis a wail that is heard upon the shore

Tis a dirge that is murmured around the lowly grave

Oh hard times come again no more.”

I want to put a “Wildflowers Under Construction” sign on the doors of certain houses that I know.  I wish them vision to see the shoots of green that are pushing tentatively up through the rocky ground they’re walking on.  I want them to hear the song of hope, however quietly it may lilt in the air. I pray they feel a gentle tug of hope encircle and lift when all seems lost.

I watch for hope, for signs of life and laughter and good things to come.  Being small, they aren’t always easy to see. You have to look closely. They’re everywhere, can you see them?

Mark O’Connor, James Taylor, Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer – performing “Hard Times Come Again No More”

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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