Of Flowers, Seeds, and Native Plants

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Is the garden always in transition? Sometimes it feels that way. My children have been exploring seeds in the garden. From those that they can eat to those that they just want to plant.

My Katya runs to pick another flower for a passer-by. I wonder how I manage to keep any flowers in the garden. The children have always been friendly to others in my neighborhood, even when they have not been to friendly. Katya decided that the wealth of flowers should be shared. My wife is convinced that this constant picking has led to the plants producing more flowers. I think that there is more to it than that, but deadheading (removing the dead flowers) does help. My only problem with the little girls picking flowers has been their tendency to yank the entire plant out of the ground. The other issue was that I was trying to harvest seeds.

    The Chinese broccoli had a white flower. Katya asked if she could pick it. I say no, thinking of a possible seed pod. She pulls at the flower anyway, ripping the plant from the ground. The flowers from many vegetables are nice in the arrangements of my daughters, so I am not too bothered, but I did not have many of these plants. This led to Katya and I having a conversation about seeds. I am happy with letting the plants seed an area on their own; however, I think that if I want better production (and to save money for next year), I should collect the seeds, and to grow them in optimal conditions. Keeping seeds is not too hard. When the seeds have dried out on the plant, you can place them in an envelope, marking the name. You can then store several seeds. This works with most seeds from your vegetables. For Katya, we began going through the garden to find seeds in various stages of readiness. She planted all of them, just in case.
    This exploration brought us to our peas. Katya and Sakura have been harvesting peas for meals practically every day. I did not think that these vines would be so prolific. They took the pods when they are quite young (sugar snap peas), so I have been preparing them like snow peas. There have not been enough peas each day to make a side dish from peas alone though. Katya and I looked at various pods to see how the seeds are developing. Katya wants to explore more seed growth since this investigation. She found almonds in a store with their furry covering still in place, so she wants those seeds to investigate further.
    Mulch alone does not prevent weeds. Having a tick growth of plants does limit weeds. When looking at one patch of ground, I noticed leaves that I could not identify. Aha, weeds, I thought. Then I remembered that a neighbor had given me a few native plants. I was reminded that many of our garden plants are not natives recently. Driving by a nursery in Dickinson, my son spotted a container with “Hamburg- Sud” (Hamburg-South). I am not sure how many plant varieties come from Germany, but I knew a man who took regular trips to Germany as a buyer, and he indicated that quite a few plants have their origins there. Natives do not often have the spectacular flowers of these selected plants, so they do not strike one with their beauty as quickly.  I do want to incorporate more natives into the garden. A mass planting of a native is as wondrous to see as any other mass planting. If they are accustomed to the rainfall of my area, then I do not have to water as often. Lastly, I have a good chance of obtaining volunteers next year in my garden, filling out empty spaces. I do like seeing flowering plants mixed in with my vegetables; it gives neighbors the impression of landscaping rather than vegetable garden, and that is my aim. Vegetables can be wonderful plants in the landscape, and by bursting them out of a confined space, we can grow more of them without the neighbors thinking “farm”. If they are thinking that way, they may want me to stop. Although everyone realizes that the garden is filled with vegetables, they ask about the unusual specimen plants (like the agave) or the flowers.
    Taking a turn in direction, I wanted to mention one last thing about plants for people selling their homes. This time of year is the big selling season, and as I walked into my front door, I thought about a factor that would make a home more desirable: fragrance. The path leading to my door first passes by these antique button roses, which bring a light scent to the air. As I walk onto the door, I am now passing by jasmine, which is coming into bloom. This jasmine variety has a rich fragrance. These are two simple plants to have in your garden, which may attract more than bees. They may attract a buyer.  Just an odd thought to impart, but would that not be nice for a buyer? 

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This site came out of my desire to write about my love of gardening, but also to connect it to my knowledge derived from home inspections. That is why I tied it to the home inspection site.If you have questions, you can email them to me (frank at yourhoustonhomeinspector.com). For home inspections, call 713.781.6090.
Happy gardening, Frank


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