Post last updated: November 1st, 2018
I am always disappointed when a garden design that looked great inside my head crashes and burns right after the mulch goes on. This happened to me with a 3 foot strip in front of a septic tank berm. I’ve tried various plants over the years but nothing really caught on – sandy soil, full sun.
The new design had a row of Shasta daisies and, in front of them, a row of purple coneflower (Echinacea). Admittedly, it was an experiment because I didn’t know the answer to these questions:
- Will the pink and white flowers bloom enough to be showy? I wanted blooms sufficient to “stop traffic.” Foot traffic, anyway. Seldom does anyone drive this far down because the paving ends at Poppie’s garage.
- Will the combination of newspaper and leaf mulch reduce weeds?
- Will the bushy plants of the two perennials further reduce weeds? Weeds are driving me to the Crazy House.
Right away, I sent this photo to one of my garden pals. Too static, she said. She preferred a “more erratic” planting. Hmph. I want the erratic cottage garden look myself but I can’t afford to buy a cottage garden outright so I was using last year’s successful experiment of growing perennials from seeds. I had lots of Shasta daisies and Purple coneflowers on hand because I kept picking up seed packets at different stores.
I can vouch for it stopping traffic, for sure for sure. The day that a very tall Shasta daisy bloomed right beside a very short Shasta daisy stopped me in my tracks. I stood there, hands on hips, looking from one to the other.
“How did that happen?” I muttered. “Have I got mutant Shasta daisies? It would be my luck.”
I fetched my seed boxes and began pawing through them looking for all the Shasta daisy seed packets. I’m trying to remember to save the packets because, invariably, I want to know something after the seeds germinate. This qualified as one of those times.
I’m like a moth to the flame with retail seed displays. I might be shopping for bedding but on the way to that department, my peripheral vision will latch onto a seed display. In truth, I suspect those seed displays have a GPS tracker on me. Thus, I don’t have even a sporting chance of going into a store and getting out without the grasping hands of that seed display reaching out for me. Anyway, I discovered that in the heat of the moment, at the seed display, I never looked at the fine print. I had purchased, hither and yon, more than one kind of Shasta daisy from more than one company.
I had grown and planted in my new garden design:
- ‘Alaska’ which tops out at 3 to 4 feet
- ‘Crazy Daisy’ at 24 to 30 inches
- ‘Silver Princess’ at 12 to 15 inches
At that moment I began to berate myself the way Evie does on a regular basis: “You so STOOPIT.” This was followed by “idiot,” “space cadet,” and so on. I gave myself quite the verbal flogging because I can’t have a row of flower blooms at different heights! That’s beyond erratic. It’s chaotic.
That was just the beginning of the surprises. As the coneflowers began to bloom, I found that I had different colors beyond what I thought I was going to have. Let me explain. I knew that I had planted a lot of plain old Echinacea and one packet of Echinacea Pow Pow. Again, the fine print got me. It seems that I also planted Burpee’s Equinacea – notice the Q? It is, by far, the most striking plant from my seed growing experiment. It is a pastel pink with blooms almost 4 inches across.
I think one of the Pow Pows is in the row because there is a short Echinacea with deep pink flowers. I don’t know how it escaped the small pot the rest of them are jammed into. Most of those haven’t filled out as plants. Yeah, I hear you nagging. Plant the things in the ground so they can take off! I will, okay? Sheesh, gimme a break.
Now my perennial row must be “adjusted” when the weather cools in November. In the meantime, as they bloom, I have begun to mark the favored Equinaceas and will also mark the others as short, medium and tall. The row thingie isn’t really working. I probably need to plant groups of the same – like a whole bunch of ‘Alaska’ with stubby Echinacea Pow Pows in front of them.
These weren’t the only seed surprises for this year. Last year, I planted a packet of Gloriosa Daisy seeds. I didn’t have high expectations because the seeds were old – 2004. My memory doesn’t function as well as the hard drive on my computer so I can’t tell you whether they sprouted and died or only one sprouted. I just don’t remember. What I do know is that I began 2013 with one Gloriosa Daisy.
As Kim over a Red Dirt Farm knows, in late spring I went from Dollar General to Dollar General looking for more Gloriosa seeds. Alas, all their seeds were sold out. I was surprised at such a run on Gloriosa seeds because I get a lot of my seeds at the end of the season when Dollar General puts them on clearance.
Unable to get more Gloriosa Daisy seeds, I had to content myself with waiting for the one plant to bloom. When it did, it was yellow:
They looked nothing like the seed packet:
I’m not disappointed, mind you. The yellow is beautiful but it was not what I was expecting. In another session of pawing through my seed packets, I noticed that it has four small seeds left inside the packet. I don’t know how that happened. I think I’ll plant them to see if I can get any two-toned blooms. I won’t know until next year, of course, as perennials are for patient gardeners.
You would think, by now, that I would be used to things not working out according to plan because I’ve got sooooooo many years of experience with it. Somehow, I ignorantly and steadfastly stick to the notion that everything will work out just great. It would help if I could grow myself a Magic Genie to waft up from the center of a flower. With the snap of a finger, the Genie could give me bursts of intelligence to avoid the scrapes I get myself into. Until I can find some Magic Genie seeds, do feel free to offer suggestions for planting a long, 3 foot strip of dirt with perennial, daisy-like flowers.