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A Wildflower-growing Experiment

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Regular readers will perhaps remember my great affection for Sabatia angularis, also known as rosepink, rose gentian, or bitterbloom. Amazingly fragrant, with a light muguet scent; showy, rare, this gentian has it all. And it grows on my road. 

In the summer of 2011, I was greatly dismayed to find a member of our township's road crew had unknowingly mowed down "my" stand of rosepink, which was in full bloom on a dry bank not two-tenths of a mile from our driveway. I spoke with him and we came to an agreement: If I'd stake off the stand of flowers, he would respect that and we'd both be happy.

Which I did. And we were all happy. 

Now, back in the summer of 2010, I decided I'd try to grow my own rosepinks. If I loved them so much, I should be able to grow them and plant them wherever I wanted on our land, without fear that someone would come mow them down. So I waited for the seedpods on some plants in our orchard to come ripe. And waited. And waited.

The late summer turned into fall and it started getting cold and Halloween was approaching and those darned pods stayed green and hard. Wouldn't you think they'd dry up and pop open SOMETIME before Christmas?

Sometime in November 2010, they finally did. And they were full of lovely little grains, each with the potential to become a rosepink plant.

I harvested two pods from the finest plant, and that was plenty to get me started.

I sowed the dust-fine seeds in fine potting soil in a long planter that fall of 2010. I kept it watered and left it on the cold floor of the greenhouse all that winter. By late April 2011, this is what was coming up. 

Those are grains of perlite. Each seedling is about the size of an average grain of sand.
Well, I didn't expect a lot more from a seed that fine, anyway.

I decided to grow them until they were big enough to transplant. And there started another journey of learning.

You know, not everything I decide to do turns out smashingly. But I'm driven by curiosity and the challenge as by the hounds of Hell itself.


A cliff hanging blog post! Can't wait for the next one!

Those are absolutely beautiful. Are seeds available in catalogs or online. I understand that they are wild flowers, but I can hope!

Hi Julie, I hope you can grow them! I was thinking about some wildflowers way back in one particular spot on my land, that I'd like to move some and see if I can cultivate them. Problem is I'm not keeping a garden right now, so they grow on their own. One is Bottle Gentian (I think that was the name) very pretty blue!

Looks like a smashing success to me---can't become adult plants without first being tiny seedlings. I doubt we need to ask to be kept posted :-)

I think your hell hounds bark a little louder than mine, but I've embarked on a few botanical experiments myself--so I'll love following this one.

Ah, Julie, this so sounds like something I would do! Right down to the "not everything I decide to do turns out smashingly" part. It's wonderful to have a partner who'll happily tolerate (encourage?) such experimentation. Looking forward to seeing how it turns out in part two.

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