Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 2020

Epimedium × versicolor 'Sulphureum' [©Nancy J. Ondra/Hayefield.com]
Bicolor barrenwort (Epimedium × versicolor ‘Sulphureum’)
First, it seemed like we would have our last spring frost in March this year–it was so delightfully mild. Then early April brought a quick dip into a frosty night or two before moderating again: okay, still unusually early for a last frost, but not impossible. Then late April: yeah, that’s been the new normal for the last few years. Once again, however, we’ve been humbled by the harsh reality that the old normal of Mother’s Day really is the most reasonable benchmark for the last frost in our part of southeastern Pennsylvania. My apologies to all of the seedlings I started way too early this year. And my congratulations to all of the hardy plants that sailed through the frosty nights, even while in full bloom; once again, you impress me with your resilience. Read More

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – April 2020

Leucojum 'Gravetye Giant' [©Nancy J. Ondra/Hayefield.com]
Leucojum ‘Gravetye Giant’
After many years of focusing on big, sun-loving, late-season plants, I have gradually been working on adding spring interest to the gardens here at Hayefield, and my efforts are starting to pay off. There are still many more opportunities to explore, but it’s a good start! It sure helps that we had a lovely spell of gradually milder temperatures and gentle rains this year. That blissful period ended in the last week, with wicked winds, small hail, pounding rain, and a return to flirting with freezing temperatures. But hey, it wouldn’t be real-life gardening if it were too easy, right? Despite the difficulties, I still have some highlights to share for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day today. Since I started with one of my favorite bulbs, ‘Gravetye Giant’ summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum), let’s continue with some other bulbs. Read More

Make the Most of Self-Sowers (Part 2)

Silene dioica 'Ray's Golden Campion' [©Nancy J. Ondra/Hayefield.com]
Silene dioica ‘Ray’s Golden Campion’
Last month, I started discussing one of my favorite kinds of seeds: the self-sowers.  Though they have a reputation for being easy, self-sowers tend to make their own rules, sometimes needing specific germination conditions and benefiting from a little custom care to work to best advantage. Over the years, I’ve come up with some ways that work well for me and identified a bunch of self-sowers that have been happy to make Hayefield their home.

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Make the Most of Self-Sowers (Part 1)

 

Verbena bonariensis [©Nancy J. Ondra/Hayefield.com]
To my mind, self-sowers like Brazilian vervain (Verbena bonariensis) are the secret to—or at least a shortcut to—creating a lush, layered look in the garden.
First, a big thank-you to everyone who requested seeds through last month’s giveaway. Several hundred packets have, I hope, made it to new homes around the globe. (If you sent in a request and didn’t hear back from me, or if I confirmed your request but your seeds haven’t arrived yet, please don’t hesitate to leave me a note here or contact me directly.) And a special thanks to those of you who shared seeds and other surprises in return—the generosity of gardeners is unsurpassed!

Since last fall, I’ve been writing about some of the many good reasons to make seeds part of your gardening experience. I obviously spend way too much time thinking about seeds: collecting, cleaning, packing those I already have, buying or trading for new ones, and—best of all—getting them all growing.

I think the only thing I like more than having lots of seeds to sow is having seeds I don’t have to sow—more than once, anyway. “Self-sowing” annuals, biennials, and short-lived perennials are such a gift to gardens and gardeners, from an aesthetic standpoint as well a practical one. Granted, they can get a little too enthusiastic sometimes, but their good points generally far outweigh the bit of management they may require. Unfortunately, self-sowers tend to be hard to find for sale as plants, for various reasons. So, even if you normally don’t choose to grow from seed, I encourage you to consider making an exception to get some of these gems growing in your garden. Read More

From My Garden to Yours 2020

[Please note that this year’s seed giveaway ended on January 25, 2020.]

This month spotlights yet another wonderful reason to work with seeds: the pass-along factor. If you’re lucky enough to have local gardening friends, sharing your favorite plants is a simple matter. For more distant trading, it’s possible to send plants through the mail, of course, but that’s tough on them, and paying for expedited delivery is hard on your wallet too. Seeds condense all that planty goodness into small, easy-to-mail bits of happiness. Read More

Consider the Source

Hayefield in Bucks County, Pennsylvania--the source of all seeds I sell at Hayefield on Etsy
Hayefield in Bucks County, Pennsylvania (the origin of all seeds at Hayefield on Etsy)

It’s time to cover the next good reason for growing from seed: the ability to know where your plants come from. Why would you care about that when there are so many more obvious things to think about, like height, flower color, bloom time, and light requirements? It might be an economic, environmental, or ecology-related issue for you, or it might be a sentimental one. Unless you are lucky enough to connect with a grower who knows (and cares) exactly where their seeds and plants come from, finding and growing out the seeds yourself may be the only way to get what you wish for your garden. Read More

Eight Utterly Un-Ordinary Gems

Nancy J. Ondra/Hayefield.com

Last month, I started the “Don’t Be Ordinary” series to explore the many excellent reasons to consider growing from seed. This time, let’s look at one of the most tempting, for many of us: the opportunity to grow truly uncommon plants that we can’t easily buy (or sometimes, even buy at all) as plants.

You’ve probably heard it said that there’s a good reason common plants are common: they are easy to find and easy to grow, thriving in a wide range of conditions with minimal care. Though uncommon plants are hard are find, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are hard to grow, or that they are merely botanical curiosities with little garden value; it may just indicate that few gardeners have had the opportunity to give them a try. I’ve had good luck with all eight of these oddities in my Zone 6/7 Pennsylvania garden, most of them for several to many years, without providing any particular soil preparation or specialized care. And, it just so happens that I have seeds of all of these currently available in my Etsy shop, so if any of them strike your fancy, you have a chance to grow them for yourself. Some are also available from other sources, which you can investigate through an online search. Read More