While these flowers aren’t true ephemeral spring beauties in that they don’t bloom and then go underground for summer, they don’t last long, either. Because we had a very long, cool, wet, and verdant spring, I’m getting better flowers out of all the plants that are somewhat to very difficult to grow in my climate. I’m taking full advantage too.
When I posted the ultimate spring beauties, sweet peas, on my Instagram story, so many Oklahoma gardeners were stunned. Why? Because sweet peas are so difficult to grow in our climate.
That bouquet in my hand spells victory!
If you want to see the spring beauties in the galleries in a larger format, click on the photos.
I was able to maximize my sweet pea goodness for two reasons. I got them outside and in the ground at just the right time. Then, we had a long cool, and rainy spring. Next year, I could plant them exactly the same way, and they might wither on their vines. It’s true. I promise.
I have no magic secret except choosing a variety that flowers early and planting the seeds directly outside on a cool, rainy day. I remember I was outside in my coat planting these in early February. It was wet, and my hands were cold. That’s why I remember.
Then, I pinched them back to the first set of leaves to make them stouter. I will never achieve the kind of sweet pea success people further north have, but I don’t care. I got to smell them and have a couple of bouquets. That’s enough for me.
In early February, I direct sowed seeds for ‘Mother of Pearl’ Shirley poppies, Papaver rhoeas. Now, these aren’t the huge poppies some of my friends can grow. They are, instead, the smaller version, and I love them because they don’t take up much room, and I can rip them out of the potager when I want to plant summer crops like bush green beans and cucumbers. I probably won’t plant the ‘Mother of Pearl’ strain again because they took forever to flower, and the colors are muddier than on the package. I really love the smokey purple ones like ‘Amazing Grey.’ You can find seeds for ‘Amazing Grey’ from Eden Bros, but act fast in the spring because they sell out quickly. I also like the brightly colored poppies I’ve grown in the past. They look great in the potager, but so does lettuce, spinach, garlic, etc.
I’m just at a point where I like to grow the weirdest varieties of things, and I feel like I’ll never see enough flowers in my lifetime. Claude Monet put it well when he said, “I must have flowers, always and always.”
Do any of you feel that way too?
My blue larkspur, Consolida ajacis, now returns each year by itself. They take up a lot of room, though, so keep that in mind if you decide to grow them. If I’m starting these flowers in a new spot, I try to sprinkle the seeds on a January or early February snowfall. I know several people say you don’t need to do that, but I think it works because it holds the seed in place until it settles on the soil and gives them a bit of moisture. If I wait too long to sow the seeds, they don’t germinate. I have no other explanation.
In this border, I now just sprinkle the seed about when the pods become ripe in June. There are so many seeds that I always have tons. I also pull up a lot of plants because they shade out the daylilies and coneflowers.
There truly is no color like these. My original seed was QIS Dark Blue larkspur. There is also a mix if you want other colors. I need this blue in my garden so I chose this group. Occasionally, a lavender one sneaks in, as in the front of this photo., which I pulled out immediately to hopefully stop cross-pollination.
I grew ‘Bloody Mary’ nasturtiums, another spring beauty, this spring, and I can’t keep from raving about them to almost everyone. They are sublime. You can direct sow nasturtium seeds outside, or you can start them under lights or in the greenhouse. This year, I started mine earlier in the greenhouse. Again, sometimes, our springs are nonexistent, and nasturtiums like somewhat warm soil to germinate, but they like cooler weather to grow and flower.
My podcast co-host, Carol Michel, just sowed her seeds outdoors. The plants will hunker down through summer and be at their best in the fall. Mine will be long gone by then. She lives in Indiana, and I live in Oklahoma. In some ways, our climates are similar. In others, they are very different. That’s what makes our podcast such fun. We also publish a free, weekly substack newsletter that has a lot of links to what we’re doing in the garden and out.
‘Bloody Mary‘ nasturtiums range in color from yellow with dark red spots to dark ruby red. The foliage is a lovely blue-green like ‘Empress of India,’ another variety I truly like. You can find ‘Empress of India’ at Eden Bros seeds.
So, that’s it for my spring beauties this year. The weather is about to move on into summer, and the daylilies are just starting to unfurl. I am growing some snapdragons from seed for the first time, and I might try them again next year. While they aren’t spectacular, I think part of it is my fault. I should have pinched them back early on. I think I could do better.
And that’s what gardening is all about. Learning how to do better. If you find you need a little extra help in the garden, check out my garden coaching page. I’d love to help you. It’s my favorite thing to do.