Spring carpets

Why is it that a pack full of seedlings is a thrilling thing and a carpet of seedlings in the garden is alarming? I once got in big trouble with a friend for bringing teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) seedlings to a plant swap because when they grow up they do this:

So do a lot of plants. I wonder if some gardeners’ preference for seedlings in packs is a control thing. We know how many we’ve sown and despite it being more time consuming to carefully transplant these guys, we’ve got a grip on them, so to speak. Now, I would definitely qualify as a control freak – I generally prefer to be in the driver’s seat. But when it comes to seeds and seedlings, I’d much rather ride shotgun. It’s so much more relaxing. With self-sowers I never have to worry about timing. They come up when they come up. I don’t have to fret about their care because they’re fine on their own. And I can still take over the wheel by weeding out the ones I don’t want and carefully transplanting any that didn’t fall where they should have. What isn’t awesome about that?

Teasel seedlings are especially easy. Because they’re biennial, we have a whole summer to decide where we want them. We can leave their carpet as an excellent weed barrier, at least until the garden grows up around them, and then allow a select few to winter over wherever we think we might want next year’s towers. And we even have time now to move 2nd year seedlings if their placement isn’t just right. (Because of their tap root, we have to dig deep).

We’ve been doing that a lot with another biennial, forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica), and I have big plans for the extra love-in-mist (Nigella damascena) seedlings in the cutting garden. Pretty soon we’ll have self-sowers spread out in the garden enough that they’ll always come up where we want them. All we’ll have to do after that is remove the ones that are “too many”. Easy. (Or is that what some of us don’t like to do? It can be awfully heart-wrenching to compost a healthy plant…)

Speaking of carpets, I can’t let a Daffodil Days post go by without saying how beautiful they still are. Still peaking. And meanwhile the tulips are starting to open and the cherry trees are gorgeous. It keeps getting prettier and prettier. (And I’m not just saying that because I want you to visit.)

Do you find seedling carpets a little bit scary or are you thrilled to see plants come back gangbusters? Can you thin and edit the seedlings without cringing?

 

2 thoughts on “Spring carpets

  1. Selaginella is a bit scary as a seedling carpet because nothing else can get a foot in the door. When something can self-seed in a lawn, they are crossing quickly over into thug territory.

    Susan, that might be true but at my house I generally cheer those plants on. Less to mow! And we have selaginella in some of our containers – wonder if it’s the same one. It does get pretty thick… -kris

  2. I look forward to patches of self sown plants. Sometimes you see variations you’d miss when you buy seeds.Some years ago I had a big patch of foxgloves(purpurea) and saw a few pale primrose plants so I kept their seeds-and a jar of every shade I liked. Pure white, spotted white, etc. It’s loads of fun.

    Val, don’t they always seem like sturdier plants too, when they plant themselves? -kris

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