Shawnee News Star Gardening Article for April 5th Becky Emerson Carlberg Before the seed project could begin, the plants in the greenhouse needed to be watered.   They all cooked yesterday in the heat and every last drop of water had evaporated.   I opened the door and was met by eight angry red wasps.   Apparently the [...]

Shawnee News Star Gardening Article for April 5th

The New Wildflower Plot

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Before the seed project could begin, the plants in the greenhouse needed to be watered.   They all cooked yesterday in the heat and every last drop of water had evaporated.   I opened the door and was met by eight angry red wasps.   Apparently the wasps had flown in through the open louvers at the back of the greenhouse and had gotten trapped when the little shutters closed at night. They were shown the way out the open front door.  

After the plants had been hydrated, I walked to the tool shed on the front porch to get the rake, shovel, snips and sledge hammer.   Surprise.   Another wasp was lurking inside.   I deftly dodged her as she exited. The implements bounced out to the lateral field in the wheelbarrow. The green garden scooter with pneumatic tires carried the heavy sack of potting soil out to join the guys waiting for action.   Last to come to the party were the seeds. This is where it gets interesting.

Native wildflower seeds can be purchased on-line.   The Good-As-Gold Wildflower Mixture was offered by Johnston Seed Company in Enid.   The concoction was advertised as a carefully selected blend of seeds that produce hardy plants of low maintenance and adaptability to a wide range of temperatures and soil types.   Perfect.   The blend contained Bachelor Buttons, Black-Eyed Susans, Clasping and Greyhead Coneflowers, Indian Blanket, Lanceleaf and Plains Coreopsis, Lemon Mint, and Purple Blazingstar.   Even the germination percentages were posted.   Coreopsis came out winners at 98% while the 78% of the Blazingstars would sprout.

The green milkweed (Asclepias viridis) is already growing in some places of the yard.   I figured more seeds scattered elsewhere couldn't hurt and the Monarchs would be happy campers.   Amazon offered wholesale seeds and I bought, thinking the source would be at least somewhere in the USA.   Ha.   The clean seeds were housed in a small plastic sleeve inside a 3'x5' mailer envelope and had come from Shanghai, China.   No information was sent with the seeds except for a picture of a green milkweed flower head.   Zhang Peng was the sender's name and it did have a USPS tracking bar code.   There is a Professor of Plant Physiology and Ecology at the Shanghai Institutes of Biological Sciences.   Are they acting as middlemen in the milkweed seed trade or are cultivating milkweed and selling seeds from various milkweed species?

The cats knocked over a glass of water during a sparring session.   I quickly grabbed the seeds as the water spread in their direction.   The packet was  moved to a dry location somewhere in the dining room.   I think. After opening every magazine, book, lifting the placemats, searching under the furniture, going through the paper recyclables and backtracking to where I had carried the empty envelope outside, I have no idea where those seeds have gone.

I put on my gardening gloves and raked what soil I could to roughen the surface for the seeds. The larger chunks had dried to the hardness of bricks and were thrown into the numerous depressions left by the tractor during lateral placements.   The lateral installer remarked a heavy rain would settle the soil. What, about 20 inches?  The septic system now works great, but the pine trees were gouged, lost several branches and even more roots.   The exposed roots had to be cut to ground level.   One landscape contractor looked at the mess. He envisioned a smooth landscape with Buffalo grass interspersed with beautiful wildflowers.   The lateral field would need to be pulverized and supplemented with additional soil and sand.   It could cost hundreds. Thank you.

Native plants grow in disturbed, wild areas I muttered to myself as I attempted to break up the dirt clods with the sledge hammer and create cairns that resembled burial sites. The seeds were then mixed in potting soil in the wheel barrow before being dispersed over the lumpy terrain. Jamie Csizmadia of Olthia Urban Prairie Gardens recommends this procedure.  The potting soil serves as a carrying agent and also marks where the seeds are.   Now let's have a good soaking rain.