Growing Wildflowers for a Backyard Cutting Garden
Having a cutting flower garden is what I consider the height of luxury. Just walk to your backyard and clip an instant gift for yourself and friends. Y'all? A FREE gift that people think is SO amazing? Yes, please. I love making myself and others feel special, and my bank account loves that I am not buying expensive presents to accomplish that.
If you don't already garden, then let me share a secret–growing things is magic, pure and simple. Put a seed in the ground, add water and light, then something grows. It's so amazing. Glorious. Soul-searchingly lovely to see. I read once that making a list of what I am thankful for is a scientifically proven mood-lifting habit. I love this tidbit even more–the more basic your notes of gratitude, the more mundane or essential, the more satisfaction you get from making this list of gratitudes. It sounds silly, but each day, I try to remember to be grateful for breathing and for the magic of placing a seed in dirt that will turn into flowers. It feels so nice to marvel at beautiful growth where there was once nothing. My simple garden reminds me what matters in life.
Ashley Palmer prompted me hard to write this post. She said she'd never considered that you could just grow flowers like the beautiful ones you buy at the farmer's market (Which I still buy those too; I have a flower problem.). I guess I started learning from my mom. She had amazing hydrangeas, but mostly her garden stayed outside. My friend Whitney's mom Carla, she is the one who brought me my first cutting flower seeds–zinnia seeds she had collected from her previous year's garden. Not only did Carla teach me about growing your own flowers, but she taught me about plant sharing, another great passion of mine. That's a whole other blog post. I love that you can just be walking along in your life, doing your own thing, then BAM, you learn about growing flowers. I hope this post does that for someone.
Most mornings, I go into my garden with my sweet daughter, Harriet. We put our boots and woven hats on, and head to the raised beds hand in hand. We decide on someone who may like flowers from us (anyone with a heart and no serious floral allergies), and Harriet points out the ones to clip. It's been a really precious ritual for us. I tell her, "It makes people feel good to get flowers. Who should we cut some for?" Sometimes it's Grandma or her babysitter, sometimes it's Daddy. And often, it's just us. We deserve flowers too. If you want to add this simple, glorious pleasure to your life and home, below are my tips to get started.
Quick Step Guide to Wild Flowers:
1. Find some dirt. Flower bed? Plot of earth you won't be mowing over? Pot of dirt? Raised bed? Yes to any of these! Wildflowers tend to like light, but read the seed packet directions to make sure your dirt is in the right light for your seeds.
2. Rough that dirt up slightly. Run a small rake over it or use your fingers. Just scruff it.
3. Sprinkle wild flower seeds. May I suggest zinnias or cosmos? I did a variety pack this year, and still those are the best growers for me, here in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
4. Lightly swish the dirt around again or sprinkle a very thin layer of dirt over the seeds.
5. Water them! And keep them watered over the next few weeks (or maybe you'll get lots of April showers!).
A few follow up notes:
*Check your seed packet for how long it takes for them to germinate. Zinnias take about two months. It's nice to know how long you should expect to wait before seeing sprouts.
*Check seed packets for the right time to plant...I think about planting flowers around March/April.
Finally you guys, growing things changes every year. Growing zinnias or tomatoes or anything is never the same each year because the weather is always different. Cold winters, hot winters, dry springs, certain pests...these things all can affect your garden, and you just have to take a deep breath and be cool about it. It's life. Sometimes it grows, sometimes it doesn't. Do some research and try again. I just know every time I get my hands dirty and my heart outside, it's a better day. And typically I end up with flowers. I hope you do too.