Seed Mixes and Control Freakery

The annual and perennial mixes have been a lifesaver in year one, without them the few flowers in the garden would have been from the Alliums, Verbascums and teasels.  But with such plenty comes a lack of control that I have found very hard.

We went away for a fortnight in June during which it was very sunny, and returned to find shoulder-high, thuggish poppies crowding out expensive perennials.  Some of these new perennials have disappeared without trace.  The poppies were not only too big, but too red.  Much of the rest of the garden is purple, blue and yellow and the very yellowish red of the annual poppies was a horrible, shouty dissonance. I pulled up about half of them and tried to live with the rest, but most mornings I couldn’t resist adding a few more to the compost until all that were left were those in bluer, more crimson reds and some pinks and whites.  These I loved, as I did the cornflowers which flowered plentifully for months. The places in which they had seeded however made for a very peculiar view, they were too big and too dense for the edges where many of them had grown.

Next to volunteer were Larkspur, another delight, though I wouldn’t have chosen the almost acid, sugary pink of one of the plants.  On the other hand I couldn’t bring myself to pull it out when it was flowering away happily for weeks on end.

As I write this there are lots of smaller plants growing up, ready to fill the spaces when the larkspur and cornflowers finish.  From the look of the leaves I think there will be some Rudbeckia and marguerites and lots of yarrow, which may be boring but gives tremendous value in my gravel. But as I don’t know what’s coming I’m not sure if these little plantlets should be cherished or pulled up whilst it’s easy to do so.  Dammed if I do – pulling out something that I would have valued later had I only known what it was; and dammed if I don’t – lots of annual and perennial weeds have flourished under this regime.

Control is all in a small space like mine and so though I love Pictorial Meadows and will be forever grateful for the bountiful flowers in what would otherwise have been a very dead year, I can’t live with not knowing what’s coming next, or choosing the exact colours myself. This type of planting is spectacular in huge areas though, the Olympic Park and lots of other public spaces have all been much beautified as a result.


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