Canny used to garden like most people, buying colorful
impatiens and petunias to plant in beds around her small
home in Baldwin Township. Then deer and turkey persuaded
her to try another way — by eating them all.
I found that zinnias and cannas were safe choices,"
she wrote in a recent garden contest.. "I plant
multicolored zinnias of varying heights. In the back
row, I add cannas. … I include elephant ear plants
beside both edges of the sidewalk. The golds, reds,
yellows and rusts are eye-catching. They remain in bloom
until late October."
not the only one who’s discovered the wonder of
growing flowers from seed, beating the deer and
extending summer color into the fall. I received an
email in June with an offer to try a product called Live
Lebanon, Conn.-based company offers seed from
deer-resistant flowers ranging in size from sweet
alyssum (2-6 inches) to zinnias (8-48 inches, depending
on the type). Gardeners create perforations in bark
mulch with a pitchfork or device the company sells. The
slits give the seed good soil contact, while the mulch
blocks most weeds. I chose the alyssum (‘Itsy Bitsy
Wicked White’) and Candyland, a mix of white, pink and
had always appreciated alyssum’s habit of
self-seeding. Two years ago, I planted a six-pack of
seedlings around a few "Hidcote: English lavender
plants at the base of a silver weeping pear tree. Each
year, I found more of the pretty little white flowers,
which our local deer disdain as much as the lavender. I
planted some of the alyssum seed from Living Mulch in
bare spots in that bed and the rest in a backyard bed
among some dark purple Sungelonias. Everything is still
blooming, although the alyssum has begun to fade.
the cosmos? The label said it was a dwarf variety that
tops out at 20 inches, but mine reached 4 feet! Although
the double petunias and dianthus I planted nearby have
browned, I think the cosmos would keep blooming atop
their pretty ferny foliage into November if I kept
they’ll never get the chance. Because the cosmos have
begun to flop across our front walk, I’ve started
pulling them out, marveling at the thick stems and large
clumps of roots. Next year, I’ll plant these pretty
monsters in the back among some gangly white cleome that
comes back every year along with purple ageratum,
another deer-resistant self-seeder.
Catalano, who sold an organic landscaping business in
2009 to market the Grass Stitcher (for seeding bare
spots in lawns) and Live Mulch, said he was surprised
how easy it was to grow flowers in bark mulch.
you do it early enough in spring and don’t disturb the
soil beneath the mulch, there are very few weeds,"
he said in a phone interview.
packs the seed in plastic canisters filled with sawdust,
vermiculite and limestone. The different-sized particles
keep the seed in suspension and well-spaced when
sprinkled, he said. Next year, he plans to add creeping
daisy, yellow and orange calendula and purply blue
bachelor buttons to the Live Mulch line, which sells a
43-ounce container for $14.99.
a bargain for all that long-lasting color, much cheaper
than buying packs of little seedlings. Canny also knows
that seeds are the frugal way to a colorful and
low-maintenance flower garden. The registered nurse
estimates she spends only $20 a season on zinnia seed,
top soil and peat moss. She digs up the canna and
elephant ear tubers and reuses them each year.
Passers-by often stop to compliment her on her beautiful
garden. These comments uplift her almost as much as
planning her garden in February when she buys her zinnia
seeds at a dollar store.
have the whole winter to think about it." She said.
"The seed reminds me that winter will come to an