Edit: Please note that as of December 1, 2012, I have sent out all of the seeds I had available to share this year.
After five years of blogging, it still surprises me that people are visiting, reading, and leaving comments on my posts. I’ll never get to talk to most of you in person, so I’d like to thank you for your time and interest in another way, by once again sharing something that means a lot to me: seeds of my favorite plants. Some of these are repeats from last year; others are new this season. Take a spin through the list, see if there’s anything you find of interest, and then check out the details at the end of the post. Enjoy!
Amsonia hubrichtii (Arkansas bluestar): I like this perennial best for its outstanding fall foliage color, but it’s lovely in bloom too. I’ve blathered on about this plant at length here: One Plant, Three Seasons: Amsonia hubrichtii.
Atriplex hortensis ‘Rubra’ (red orach): I let this annual self-sow each year, and its magenta-purple seedlings start appearing soon after the ground thaws in late winter or late spring. The main stems shoot up to 3 to 5 feet in summer, and the leaves darken to very deep purple. In late summer, the stems are topped with interesting seed clusters. Red orach is supposed to be a tasty edible when young, but I’d much rather save them for their ornamental value.
Cephalaria gigantea (giant scabious): Giant scabious isn’t a “wow” perennial color-wise, but it’s pretty dramatic anyway, blooming atop nearly leafless, 6- to 7-foot-tall stems. I’ve seen descriptions that say it blooms all summer, but here it flowers only through June. For that reason, it’s not a plant I’d recommend if you have limited space, but if you can put it at the back of a larger border or along a meadowy path, it’s cute and quirky. It wants full sun and seems to like moist soil.
Ceratotheca triloba (South African foxglove): I previously wrote about the white form of the elegant annual (‘Alba’, shown below) in Three Neat Plants – Mid-August. I have seeds of the purplish pink species (shown above) as well.
Clematis sp. (leather flower): I started this one from seed ages ago and lost the label at some point. In the last year or so, I’ve become pretty convinced that it’s Clematis glaucophylla, but I can’t swear to it. Whatever it is, it’s a winner. The small pink flowers are charming, and they appear from early summer well into fall, along with a great display of swirly seedheads. I cut it completely to the ground each year and it nicely fills a 6- to 8-foot tall tuteur.
Digitalis ferruginea (rusty foxglove): While I don’t have much luck with ordinary foxgloves, this one has been a winner for me. It’s dependably perennial here and even self-sows, so I now have a nice patch of it. The individual flowers are exquisite close up, and the slender, 3- to 4-foot-tall spikes make a great contrast to mounded companions, such as bluestars (Amsonia).
Eucomis comosa from ‘Oakhurst’ (pineapple lily): Pineapple lily produces long, strappy leaves and plump spikes of starry flowers in summer. I collected these seeds from ‘Oakhurst’, which has deep purple new leaves that eventually turn purplish green. You can read more about it here: Three Neat Plants. The seed of this bulb produces about 2/3 purple-leaved seedlings and 1/3 green ones. They’ll take several years to reach flowering size. Limited quantities.
Mirabilis longiflora (wild four o’clock): This annual or tender perennial isn’t much to look at during the main part of the day, but the long-tubed, white flowers are a pretty sight when they open in late afternoon, and they last into the next morning. Best of all, they have a wonderful fragrance too. Try wild four o’clock around a deck or bench where you like to sit in the evening.
Nicotiana glauca (tree tobacco): Tree tobacco is a very different take on the more common flowering tobaccos. This one does bloom, with relatively small yellow flowers, but its main interest comes from the powder blue foliage. Grown as an annual, its single or lightly-branched stems can easily reach 6 feet tall or more by the end of the growing season.
Nicotiana “Ondra’s Green Mix” (flowering tobacco): In my previous garden, I grew N. langsdorffii near N. alata ‘Lime Green’, and this seed strain is the result. The flowers are generally between the two in size and shape on stems to about 3 feet tall.
Nigella damascena ‘Cramers’ Plum’ (love-in-a-mist): This super-easy, self-sowing annual has white flowers that mature into reddish purple seedpods.
Parthenium integrifolium (wild quinine): I first grew this perennial out in the meadow, and I liked it so much that I brought some of it into the garden. It generally grows 2 to 3 feet tall here, and the white flowers appear from June into September. The foliage can develop some nice fall color as well.
Patrinia scabiosifolia (golden lace): One of my all-time favorite perennials, with tall-stemmed umbels of clear yellow flowers from August to October, plus orange-to-red fall foliage color. There’s more info here: Three Neat Plants – Mid-August.
Petunia integrifolia (wild petunia): Hybrid petunias usually fizzle out here by the end of June, but this sweet little species just keeps getting better through the season. The flowers are small but bright, and the stems have a wonderful way of winding up through other plants. Once you get it going, it often self-sows and puts itself in places you’d have never thought to try it.
Phaseolus lunatus ‘Alma’s PA Dutch Purple Burgundy’ (‘Alma’s PA Dutch Purple Burgundy’ lima bean): A new one for me this year, from Amishland Seeds. This climbing lima isn’t something you’d grow as an ornamental, because the flowers are small and barely visible. But if you’re seriously interested in growing and sharing rare heirloom vegetables, perhaps you’d like to give it a try. It wasn’t especially productive for me, but then I’ve never had much luck growing any lima beans, so I have only a very small quantity of these.
Phytolacca americana ‘Silberstein’ (variegated pokeweed): I’ve noticed that when anyone asks on gardening forums about growing variegated pokeweed , they get lots of negative responses – from people who have never actually grown it. For me, at least, it’s been distinctly less vigorous than the species, reaching just 2 to 3 feet tall and often getting crowded out by bigger perennials. I’m always glad to find a few self-sown seedlings each year for replacements.
Platycodon grandiflorus ‘Axminster Streaked’ (balloon flower): The photos say it all, really. I’ve had some seedlings turn out to be the usual solid purple-blue, but nearly all have some mix of that color with white.
Polanisia dodecandra (red clammyweed): I wrote about this dwarf cleome look-alike in Three Neat Plants. It’s a cute little self-sowing annual.
Rudbeckia maxima (giant coneflower): The long-coned flowers of this perennial are hard to miss, because they’re big, bright, and right at eye level. Unlike other rudbeckias, this one has exceptional foliage too: broad blue leaves that look great all through the growing season.
Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Purpurea’ (Japanese burnet): Another of my top favorite perennials, with catkin-like reddish purple flowers topping the 5- to 6-foot-tall stems starting in late summer.
Solanum quitoense (bed-of-nails): I’ve written about bed-of-nails in detail in Three Neat Plants. Though my plants have never produced ripe seed before the first frost, I have a good supply of seeds to share with any of you brave enough to try this spiny traffic-stopper thanks to reader Rick Rickman.
Spodiopogon sibiricus (frost grass, graybeard): Frost grass may not be one of the most dramatic grasses, but this clump-forming perennial has been sturdy, dependable, and trouble-free for me. The horizontal leaves give it a distinctive look, and the silvery seedheads look fantastic when backlit. It likes soil that’s on the moist side.
Stipa tenuissima (Mexican feather grass, pony tail grass): Which superlatives haven’t I used before to describe Mexican feather grass? It’s lovely all year long, except for the week or two after I cut it down in early spring. I used to grow it as an annual, but it’s finally decided to be hardy here; either way, I wouldn’t want to be without it.
Talinum paniculatum ‘Kingwood Gold’ (jewels-of-Opar): Not ‘Kingswood Gold’, as so many sites refer to it; it’s originally from Kingwood Center in Ohio. This easy annual has succulent chartreuse foliage, plus tiny pink flowers that mature into equally tiny, orangey seed capsules; usually about 1 foot tall.
Vernonia lettermannii (narrow-leaved ironweed): A few years ago, I started out with the selection ‘Iron Butterfly’, which in leaf is practically a dead ringer for Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii). The foliage of its seedlings isn’t quite that needlelike, but it’s still slender and fine-textured. The 2-foot-tall and -wide mounds are practically smothered in the fuzzy purple flowers typical of ironweeds in late summer and early fall. Spring-sown seeds usually bloom the first year.
Vigna unguiculata ‘Pretzel Bean’ (pretzel bean): Another one that’s new for me this year. I plan to write about pretzel bean in detail in an upcoming post, but for now, I can recommend this climbing cowpea as a fun ornamental as well as an interesting and productive vegetable.
Zea mays ‘Old Gold’ (‘Old Gold’ corn): This stunning field corn grows 6 to 7 feet tall with long, green leaves that are striped with varying amounts of bright yellow.
Zinnia tenuifolia ‘Red Spider’ (‘Red Spider’ zinnia): The small, single flowers of ‘Red Spider’ are much daintier than those of common zinnias, and the plants are much more open, to the point of being somewhat sprawling by midsummer. I like them mixed into the middle of a border so they can lean on and scramble up through taller companions.
Did you find anything you’d like to try? Put together your wish list and leave it in a comment below or email it to me at nan at hayefield dot com. Feel free to ask for as many different kinds as you want, listed in order of preference (with those you want most at the top of the list). If there are many requests for certain seeds, I’ll fill them in the order I received the requests. I can’t promise that I’ll be able to send you everything you want, but I will do my best to send you something.
Please note that these are the only seeds I have available to share this year. (The only exception is for those of you who e-mailed me earlier this season with specific requests; in that case, please remind me of your requests when you send your wish list.)
The absolute deadline for seed requests is November 30, 2012. I will not be able to fill any late requests.
I thank you again for being loyal readers, and I look forward to sharing a bit of Hayefield with many of you!