Part 1: Springtime
"The Story of the Root Children" written by Sibylle Von Olfers was a book I read over and over to my children. Each spring I am reminded of this tale when my garden is bare, completely void of any life on the surface, with a tremendous plant source lying beneath—the volunteers.
Soon after the first spring rain and the soil warms I see evidence of life after winter, small sprouts all looking familiar and similar. The beauty and challenge of self-seeding annual flowers, herbs and sometimes vegetables is identifying them as volunteers. Over the years I have learned to recognize the plants by their leaves, the order in which to expect their arrival, and where they reliably decide to grow. I feel protective of these sprouts because they do not look much different than many weeds at this point. Most plants are photographed when they are blooming and mature, not when they are just little sprouts. Below are a few of these root children that I found in May while exploring my garden. Look for them coming to your garden soon!
I appreciate nature's perfectly designed vignettes, combinations not found in any book or ones I want to compete with... so I don't. I know 'Grandpa Ott's' morning glory will sprout and grow up the side of the barn, my 'Grandma Einck's' dill will volunteer in front of the 'Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate,' the calendulas are fine companions for any plants, 'Love-in-a-Mist' will scatter themselves everywhere knowing they can blend into any group and be just fine. Borage is in the strawberry patch, 'Outhouse Hollyhock' along the fence, and violets are usually blooming before I even get into the garden.
Visitors sometimes say my garden feels so natural… well it truly is, one that naturally volunteers itself.
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Check back to the blog throughout this summer and autumn for more posts and pictures of my garden.
Founded in 1975, Seed Savers Exchange operates an 890-acre farm in northeast Iowa where thousands of rare fruit, vegetable, and other plant varieties are regenerated and preserved in a central collection. Its mission is conserving and promoting America’s culturally diverse but endangered food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants. For information visit www.seedsavers.org