June 4th, 2002
A Garden From A Hundred Packets of Seed

A Garden from a Hundred Packets of Seed
James Fenton
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York. 2001

Just as I’m beginning to take garden planning more seriously, just as I’m installing more hardscaping and thinking about garden bones, just as I go in search of a shrubbery, I pick up this little book which says, more or less, “Forget design. It’s about the flowers.”

This book is not so much about gardening as it is about the game of lists. If your garden was a blank slate, if you could plant anything you wanted to grow (but only if you grew it from seed), what would you plant?

I’m not sure I can even come up with a 100 plants to grow from seed at this point in my gardening career. I’m not very good at raising things from seed. But, I’ll have a go at making a list of my own. Why don’t you add a comment and tell me what you would grow.

Well, I’ve decided to be somewhat realistic and contain my list to things I know will grow in Austin Texas (zone 8)–even if I haven’t tried them yet myself. I’m really more of a bulb and shrub person.

1. Consolida ambigua (larkspur)
2. Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)
3. Lathyrus ambigua ‘Cupani’ (sweet peas)
4. Viola hybrida ‘Penny Orchid Frost’
5. Viola hybrida ‘Sorbet Lemon Ice’
6. Papaver rhoes (poppy)
7. Cosmos
8. Helianthus annuus ‘Velvet Queen’ (sunflower)
9. Luffa
10. Dolichos lablab
11. Calendula (pot marigold)
12. Cypress vine
13. Eschscholzia californica ‘Buttermilk’ (California poppy)
14. Achillea ptarmica ‘The Pearl’
15. Althaea rosea ‘Nigra’ (black hollyhock)
16. Alyssum maritima
17. Amaranthus caudatus (Love-lies-bleeding)

Wow! I’m going to have to give this some more thought.

by M Sinclair Stevens

One Response to post “A Garden From A Hundred Packets of Seed”

  1. From Ms. Pat:

    Sure hope you know about winter sowing because it’s an easy way to start plants from seed that requires nothing more than potting soil, seeds, and recycled milk jugs.

    In Austin, many of these annuals are sown in the fall to overwinter and bloom the following spring. Planted in the spring, most annuals won’t have time to bloom before the weather gets to hot. So, I guess you could say that I naturally follow the precepts of winter sowing…that is, I haven’t started seeds indoors for years. — mss