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As Ye Self-Sow, So Shall Ye Reap

September 30, 2014


As winter closes in, I find myself turning more and more to that emotional survival trick of gardeners everywhere: obsessing over what I’m going to plant next spring. As I peruse my books and catalogs, I keep running into an ominous phrase: “self-sows freely”.

Experienced gardeners know what this means. It means that you are bound to a plant in holy and implacable matrimony, no divorces or annulments allowed. It means this plant will be in your garden forever. It means you will be pulling out seedlings far and wide, or watch this plant choke out the competition.

Or perhaps not. “Self-sows freely” is perhaps a phrase that is more ambiguous than ominous, since it does not adequately describe the variety of self-sowing behaviors exhibited by garden plants. To remedy this problem, I provide the following glossary of variations in self-sowing.

Self-sows charmingly. Pops up with endearing randomness around the…

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One Comment
  1. Author permalink

    I started strategically “self sowing” today. Dried zinnia flowers that had been pink, red, yellow, now bursting with seeds. The dark brown remains of echinacea flowers, now spheres of seeds. The once purple, now brown, spikes of hyssop, crumbling into seeds. The flat topped maroon flowers from my swamp milkweed, now billowing seeds. I gathered each of them up, roamed a short stretch of the neighborhood, and tossed them into the wild untamed areas where other wildflowers seem to thrive. With any luck, some of them will take. I’ll be eager to see next year!

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