Monday, August 5, 2013

Weeds and Volunteers

Papaver rhoeas- Corn Poppy
One person's weed is another persons ornamental delight. Every year the choices we make when weeding in the spring and early summer help define the structure of July. Adding to the structure of what you have planned through years of editing, moving, and planting, is supplemented by volunteers (seedlings from self seeded past annuals and perennials or weeds you like) that add to the surprise of the current season and unexpected combinations. Here are three self sowers that I choose not to weed out early in the

Papaver somnifierum

The two poppies I have are totally different. The Papaver rhoeas is light and airy, with dark green, fringed leaves with small heads. One plant will continue to bloom for more than a month though and that bright red can be seen from across a field. The other poppy is a classic Papaver somniferum with a light purple flower with yellow insides. This poppy has a grey leaf that is rigid and sturdy and is a very upright plant. It looks great sprinkled in among peonies and catmint. Yes, this poppy is a type of opium poppy, but the heads are small in comparison to those grown for that market.

The other volunteer is dramatic and almost 7 feet tall, the mullien. This verbascum is often considered an annoying weed, but if left in the right places it can be a show stopper. A biennial, you can sometimes move it to where you would like it if you see some of it's felty seedlings in their first year. (It has a long taproot, so can't be moved after it gets a bit bigger.) It fits well into our farm like setting and always gets comments. Once it is done flowering it must get taken out though, as the grey felt leaves get ratty and brown.

Next spring think about what seedlings you are weeding and how they will look amongst things you planned. Careful editing can bring the most exciting results!

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