I vowed, “No more seeds. There’s already more than my potager can hold this year, and probably much of the next, in the seed storage boxes. I don’t need more seeds. I probably can’t even manage more seeds properly.” I really meant it. I really did. Then I traveled to the University of Illinois’ Herb Day. It’s a looooonnnng boring drive, with too much time to think.
My mind kept returning to the problem of camouflaging dying tulip foliage, since there will be hundreds of browning, ugly leaves at some point, and they must be allowed to mature and die naturally in order to feed the bulb for another year. Hopefully next year, the perennials (columbines, gaillardia, golden feverfew, etc.) I’ve seeded will help hide the ugliness until the soil and air temperatures are warm enough to insert lots of annuals. This year, the perennials will be too small to hide anybody. Some well-known gardeners simply pull out the tulips as soon as they begin to fade, and purchase all new bulbs the next fall. I can’t bear to do that, emotionally or financially, so when I saw a big rack of Botanical Interests seeds in a neighboring booth, I had to look. It was just too tempting. I have low resistance for seeds and gardening books. I probably needed an intervention. Unfortunately, it was the first show of the year, and everyone there had rampaging garden fever, too.
Two packets had to come home with me. (Didn’t I show great restraint?) Only one will help with the tulip foliage problem. This pretty calendula (pot marigold) “Oopsy Daisy” can tolerate cooler temperatures than zinnias and marigolds. Along with the bronze and apricot snapdragrons I’ve started, they should screen lots of the fading bulb foliage. I can always use more calendulas, because their healing petals are a major ingredient in most of my salves, lotions, soaps, and many teas, plus I add them to salads, sprinkle them to garnish canapes, or mix them into sugar cookies. “Oopsy Daisy” blooms are cream, yellow and salmon-orange with fiery orange tips. They are also deer resistant, which is a plus and they attract pollinators for my veggies.
The second package, Balck-Eyed Susan Vine (thunbergia) will hopefully help with another problem that came to mind during the drive. (I-74 is flat and empty all the way to Champaign-Urbana!) I love hollyhocks, when they are in bloom, but afterwards they can be downright pitiful. However, I need their height at the back of the border along the Lady Cottage. I think covering them with twining, vining, colorful Black-Eyed Susans will be just the trick that’s needed, since they like the same growing conditions.
I confess. At another booth, I also bought this gardening book, “Culinary Gardens, from Design to Palate.” It was gently used, and by a favorite Hoosier author, Susan McClure. I couldn’t resist. After all, it is about kitchen gardens, which is my new passion. I’m just afraid when I read about her favorite varieties it will stimulate a burning desire….. for more seeds!