Perennials are plants that keep coming back year after year. Annuals only last one season. (Most vegetables are annuals.) I’ve sold perennials, annuals, and vegetables for many years to help support my gardens.
You’d have to live longer than most of us have in order to try to grow every flower, but goodness knows I’ve made a stab at it. The big advantage of that is by trying a few new things each year, you’ll stumble upon something new and different that absolutely loves your garden and borders. And — is the talk of all who visit you.
Changes over the Years
Years ago I use to order from a company that sold flats of plants wholesale to small growers like me. It was easier to order a flat of something, rather than grow it from seed. Things were great for almost 20 years and then — like everything — things changed. They stopped offering flats and offered all plants in multiples of 3. This year the company has changed again. Plants are offered in individual pots only.
Along with these changes have come changes in prices that make it impossible for many (myself included) to buy all the plants I’d like to try. At $8.95 to $14.95 per plant you can speed through your budgeted amount in a hurry. Not only that, but buying only one plant of any variety decreases your chances of success —-even if the plant has the potential to be one of your best performers.
Seeds to the Rescue
Fortunately, starting seed (especially the winter sown way) is an easy and inexpensive way to grow just about everything your heart desires. And by buying seed you’ll have enough plants to really test the plant variety in your borders and gardens. You’ll only be limited by available space and the time you have to transplant.
Privately Owned Small Seed Companies
It’s nice to know that there are still some small seed companies remaining that offer heirloom and open-pollinated seed varieties. Those are the ones that continue to produce the exact same plant year after year. (Hybrids do not produce offspring identical to the parent. If you want the same plant you have to buy the seed again each year.)
Why it’s Important to Support Them
It’s important to support these small remaining companies, so we can keep some of the tried and true heirlooms and thus keep the diversity in seed that is so important to the success of the planet as well as our individual gardens. If we help these small companies stay in business at least we will have access to some seed not owned (and/or possibly modified) by chemical companies like Monsanto.
One of My Favorites
Diane’s Flower Seeds is one of my favorite small companies. She has a multitude of heirloom perennials, annuals, vegetable and herb seeds to choose from; some of them very rare.
Her site is so much fun to explore. Just to tempt you a bit, I’ll tell you about a beautiful perennial snapdragon and a very popular annual that Diane offers. (Offers the seed of course.)
Snapdragons that you raise from seed do better, get bigger and last longer (as a rule) than the dragons you buy from nurseries. Traditional Snapdragons are usually annual if your winter gets really cold. Although I’ve had them winter over many times here in Virginia.
Diane offers a true perennial snapdragon (antirrhinum braun-blanquetti) that I can hardly wait to try. It’s a hardy one from Spain that blooms the first year from seed. Diane says it is truly spectacular the second year when the bushy plants send up lots of tall stems with light yellow flowers in early summer. And it self sows!
As soon as my seed comes I’m going to winter sow in the jugs I showed you in a previous post, rather than sowing in an open flat in March.
Tall Verbena (Verbena Bonariensis) (An annual.)
I acquired Verbena Bonariensis about 5 or 6 years ago when it seemed to be taking the garden world by storm. As Diane mentions, nearly every garden design book mentions this plant. It blooms the first year from seed with clusters of lavender/purple flowers held on 3 and 4 feet stalks. Wonderful with roses, lilies, next to ornamental grasses, and many other things. Perfect in a fence border.
It reseeds every year and is always welcome in my borders. I let the seed fall where it may each year. I should have saved some seed to plant in other spots, but I didn’t. So I bought some from Diane last year.
This excellent quick growing, sure-to-reseed annual is a must have for me. This year I want to make sure it gets into my fence border. It’ll be beautiful!
While you’re on Diane’s site you might want to make your seed selection from some of the helpful informational lists like the following:
There’s a lot to be learned from Diane’s site, so you might want to bookmark it for future reference. I’m glad I found her and I think you will be too.
Organic gardening is easy, effective, efficient and a lot healthier.
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