Never Have I Ever...
Updated: Apr 2, 2022
..Planted seedlings before April in my 7a/6b garden... but I did this year. I watched gardners and farmers north of me that were planting cool flowers and what can I say? An opportunity to buy more seeds? I'm in! I read Lisa Mason Ziegler's book, Cool Flowers, and I was convinced I could get a jump on the season. My daughter is getting married at the end of May and I wanted to have the backyard brimming with color--and--extra flowers should we find ourselves facing a flower crisis for the wedding. There's one thing I've learned about gardening--you always need a back-up plan.
So I started lisianthus at Christmas, snapdragons at Valentines Day, and calendular bachelor buttons, statice, strawflowers, rudbeckia, stock, and ranunculus shortly after that. I decided to really push the envelope and planted out my stock, snaps, and statice the second week of March (yes... I was lulled into a false sense of spring). The next week it turned frigid (teens at night). We frantically covered our babies with layers of frost cloth, bit nails, and prayed that they'd make it. Suprisingly, most did. I lost some snaps, and my statice looks frozen in time eventhough it's still alive. The stock are pretty bullet proof and continue to grow. Two weeks later, another surge in temperatures so I decided to direct sow some bachelor buttons. I also put in some bachelor button and calendula seedlings. They are doing great... the direct sown bachelor buttons sprouted and are growing. The seedlings are over their transplant shock and bounced back.
I thought I was out of the woods, but this weekend another cold snap is upon us. It's going to be down in the low 20's at night for the next three days. Tomorrow, I will once again get out all the blankets, sheets, frost cloth and clips to start the process of frost/freeze protection. This time around I have more to worry about as the tuplips are budding up and the daffs are in bloom... fingers crossed they make it too.
We'll have to see if my early start was all for naught. I have plenty of snap back-ups (seedlings and a bunch of winter sown jugs). Stock will be in short supply as I only have about 12 seedlings in reserve. I'm glad I never planted out my lissies... there is no bouncing back from a lissie mistake. I will also have to bring in the winter sown jugs as everything has sprouted. I am running out of room in the house. I just potted up 14 dahlias that are on my living room table. I have at least 25 (gulp/blush) to go.
So after all this, what's the verdict on cool flowers? My conclusion is they are called "cool" flowers and not "cold" flowers for a reason. I think I was a bit too enthusiastic and hopeful. What will I do different next year? Wait. I'll wait until April before attempting to plant anything outside. Of course, the best solution would be to get myself a heated greenhouse :) In the meantime, I'm toying with the idea of starting some sunflowers early and using frost cloth to cover them (I'd have to cover them anyway as the rabbits would have a field day... quite literally). Hope springs eternal. Let's hope this cold snap doesn't zap my snaps. Happy gardening from the Bumbling Gardener!