by Christine Berglund
By now my regular readers have figured out that most of my annuals (one-year plants) are basically volunteers, because I’m a very poor garden planner.
Rather, I just let things grow where they come up, and weed out some of the unwanted plants by potting them up and giving them away. Then other plants are added until a suitable arrangement develops.
Once, while being introduced by a fellow gardener, that gardener added, “Christine is where plants come from.”
My garden doesn’t really produce more extra plants than others; it’s just that I’m a bit of a hoarder, and don’t like to throw anything good away. That goes double for plants!
With that in mind, I always felt a little guilty about my flower beds’ wild and casual look, thinking they personified a lazy attitude. That changed recently. A fellow gardener shared a lovely picture of his arbor with what he called “the self-sowing flower beds.”
What a nice way to put it!
Of course Dave is an expert at plant propagation, starting his seeds in a hand-built greenhouse and selling his baby plants at the local Farmer’s Markets.
So in his case, it is not a matter of “forgetting” to plant his seeds early enough or to put them out at the right time.
His Self-Sowing beds are just that. They are meant to be planted naturally by the flowers that casually grace the beds around the lovely garden structure.
Mine will be called self-sowing beds now as a way for me to feel better about my lack of planning and placement. Yes, it does take some measure of skill and artistry to make a self-sown bed look good, but in all honesty I just am very inept at seed starting, and lack the space for it.
I told Dave it was a great euphemism. “self-sown beds” sound better than “I didn’t get around to planting much here, but it looks okay anyway.”
I guess I always referred to my own style as “volunteer gardening” since I let the volunteers grow. Tennessee is, after all, “The Volunteer State.”
In too many cases, however, they are crowding out the other plants. One favorite spot had some new Coral Bells that became completely obscured by the zinnias that sprouted from last year’s seeds.
As I removed the offending and scraggly zinnias and cleomes, I found the original plants weak and spindly from lack of sunlight. The fuzzy purple Ageratum was brown and sickly, with some fuzzy mold spots on the stems.
Fuzzy can be bad. I wanted the good fuzzy.
The chrysanthemums that had graced this corner for three years were all but gone, their skeletal stems nary sporting a green leaf. Oh, how I wished I had counted the cost of having those happy little zinnias where they did not belong!
When our lives necessarily grow crowded with unplanned activities, it is equally necessary to pick and choose which ones will grace our lives. Some will be “self-sown” treasures; spontaneous joyful moments and days that we will treasure forever.
Others will be enjoyable for a time, until we realize that they elbowed out what was important in our hearts and homes.
As we approach the holiday season with so many activities competing for the limited space in the gardens of our lives, let’s be careful not to be so rigid as to not allow a volunteer or two.
May we also artfully and carefully prune and weed out a few of those good things as we arrange and live our lives for God.