To Plant A Seed And Wait, Is To Believe


A few years ago, a friend gave me a plaque with this inscription and a bag of muscari bulbs.  I was struck, because I am by no means a holy roller, but I did hang the plaque on a wall in my potting shed.  And each day when I worked in the shed, I stared at that nine-word phrase, and I gained a greater understanding of why I enjoy gardening.  So, as my first post, I again look to that plaque as a starting point, because what better way to start than with a seed.

I love seeds.  They come in all sizes and shapes, and each one holds so much promise of growth and color and bounty.  My favorite part of winter is actually after Christmas, because that’s when the seed catalogs arrive.  I spread everything, including myself, out on the living room floor, surrounded by pages and pages of color photographs and plant descriptions.   I am like a child again studying the Sears and Penney’s Christmas catalogs.   And after I go through the catalogs once, I start all over again.   And let’s not forget about the free gifts.  I would never purchase my own tomato seeds–but a free sample??  That’s a gift for me and for my father on Father’s Day.  I make a wish list, and then edit it down to something that’s more manageable and realistic.  In my head, I am a LAND owner.  In reality, space and time are very real limitations.

Then the seeds arrive, some vacuum sealed in foil packaging, and others (the tinier ones) in a glassine envelope within the larger package (how exciting is that?).   I like geranium seeds because they’re large and easy to handle.  I especially love celosia seeds.  They are very small, and look like minute beads of polished onyx.  And while the snow is falling, and the winds are blowing, you can find me in the potting shed, getting my hands dirty in a bucket of potting mix, making plant labels, sprinkling seeds across the planting medium, watering them, placing the pots on heating mats, and waiting. 

Like I said before, seeds hold so  much promise, and all I had to do is provide an environment.  Water.  Heat.  Light.   Believe.

16 thoughts on “To Plant A Seed And Wait, Is To Believe

  1. I think it might be time for you to consider getting back into journalism. I thought I was reading a professional gardener’s column. Regardless, I have a question for you, nittygrittydirtman: I just planted a peeled bark birch cluster tree in my yard, an area that receives full sun. I’d like to plant flowers underneath. So, do you think I should go with sun, sun/shade, or shade loving plants? Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    • Thanks for the comments. . . And now for the question. I’m guessing the birch is still on the small side, so it may not be full enough to give you the shade of a larger tree. In that case, I would stick with sun lovers. As the tree matures, you’ll have to crossover to sun/shade, and then shade. Since this is a new tree, you should also keep an eye on how the shade moves as the sun travels.

      As for plants, sun lovers would be wave petunias (a few plants can spread a long way), geraniums, marigolds. (I especially like white marigolds.) If you’re looking at perennials, you can consider salvia (although it has a funky smell) or gaillardia (blanket flower). Daylilies are also a nice addition, and there are enough cultivars with different bloom times and reblooming habits to give you a full summer of color. Going toward shade, there are impatiens–but you may want to consider foliage plants that are very colorful, like hostas or heuchera.

      Hope this helps–happy planting.

  2. Nice piece, Kevin. It reminds me that seeds amount to a barometer that measures patience. The more you embrace seeds, the more patience you must have. Which holds true for gardening in general. Seed on!

  3. Ok, my nitty gritty dirty friend, maybe you can help me. 1. I have a lilac bush that I planted around 7 years ago. Although it’s growing beautifully and blooming, there is a bare space in the middle. (Between the top and the bottom of the bush-which is about seven feet tall now) Am I suppposed to cut it back in the fall? I never have. 2. I also have a nice space near my mailbox which in entirely in the shade. We tried hostas a few years ago, but they either died or looked pitiful. What do you suggest for the space?

    • I don’t know too much about lilacs, but I do know not to prune. I learned that the hard way. I pruned my lilac and lost years and years worth of blooms. It has only rebounded within the past two years. Here is a link that may help your lilac lament. As for your shady mailbox, that depends on how much shade you have. Deep shade can be difficult; dappled shade will give you more options. You can try Heuchera. It’s flowers are insignificant, but the foliage is spectacular — lots of colors from which to choose. Good luck!

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