Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Volunteers Wanted

Talinum seedling
This spring, as I was lamenting the fact that yet another Euonymus fortunei shrub had died in the border bed in front of the porch railing, I noticed a few green seedlings coming up that I was pretty sure were not weeds. After gardening for awhile, you get a general feel for which plants look like weeds and which ones could be actual plants that you want to keep. Of course, there are those times when you unknowingly pull out the ones you want, as well.

Papaver somniferum 'Lauren's Grape'
By mid-June or so, the "good guys" are pretty obvious and in this bed, I had a bumper crop of them. I could see that the plants I grew the previous year in the flower boxes just above the flower bed had self-seeded. It was apparent I'd grown petunias (pink Wave, to be specific) and a lovely annual called Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum 'Limon').

I'd also planted an annual poppy called 'Lauren's Grape' the previous year and although I only got puny little things then, a couple of volunteers this year grew to a magnificent size and bloomed just like I'd seen in photos. I had enough blooms and seed heads that I should be able to plant a nice crop of them late next winter.

95% of the flowers and foliage you see in the flower bed are volunteers!
The Euonymus isn't even visible, due to the Talinum covering it up!

While this bed of volunteers doesn't give me the look I was intending, by any means, it's still quite pretty in a free-form sort of way, with its different shades of green and the varying pinks, and even two that are purple! This is a great demonstration of what happens when a hybrid goes to seed and produces inconsistent offspring. Some of them are like the original pink Wave, but the seeds can't be relied upon to consistently produce that of the original plants.

Many of the offspring were like the original pink Wave.

I was surprised to see this green-edged pink version
and I like it quite a bit.

I'm still amazed at how successful petunias are at self-seeding, considering just how tiny the seeds are (powder!) and that they need light to germinate.

These are some of the different results of the pink Wave self-seeding.
I love the color of this purple one, but there's a darker purple, too.

Romie wants to just let this flower bed do this every year, but I've informed him that won't be happening. We'll enjoy it for now, and while I love it when plants self-seed (most of the time), I've got other plans for this bed next year and it doesn't involve Jewels of Opar, petunias, or even the Euonymus that's still there.

The tiny blooms and airy sprigs of the Talinum
do blend nicely with the Echinacea 'Ruby Star', though...


That Bloomin' Garden said...

I love the volunteers in your garden. Didn't realize petunias would drop seed so easy. You have to wonder if mother nature's just trying to help us out.

Anonymous said...

I get some good volunteers, but I think in my really wet climate I just get volunteers who are slackers and don't put their guts into it! :-)
I think in over 25 years, I only recall a petunia re-seeding a couple of times at best. :-(

Anonymous said...

I seem to get the slacker volunteers that no one else wanted,not the great ones like petunias! Lucky you. :-)

Isadora said...

Pretty! I love the volunteer petunias! Watch that Jewel of Opar, tho. It's a pretty thing but it spreads like crazy and gets into everything, potted plants, whatever and is hard to pull out with a tap root, it just breaks off and comes back thumbing it'slovely nose at you!

F Cameron said...

I am a fan of "good" volunteers, too. I had puny 'Lauren's Grape' and was disappointed. Glad to hear that they grow larger in the second year. We had such a dry, hot April here. My petunia volunteers didn't show up this year and it was my fault because I pulled them out in late summer when they got too scorched here.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What fun to have all those volunteers. They make a pretty picture.

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