Thursday, August 30, 2012

Volunteer Marigolds

I don't really have a garden per se - just a few cobbled-together beds by the doorstep and a small collection of potted plants. Some of this space is taken up by perennials: a luxuriant patch of lemon thyme, which would take over the planet if it could; a hardy clump of chives - those harbingers of spring joy and growth; and a cluster of dianthus that blooms an intense magenta and keeps coming back a little bigger each year.

In the limited space that remains, there are certain things I plant every year: tomatoes, basil, parsley, and marigolds. (I call them my Fab Four. Lettuce comes and goes, and some years I plant green beans, but the Fab Four are always with me - at least in summer.)


Marigolds have long been a favourite flower of mine. They're hardy, cheerful, enjoy a long blooming season, and make wonderful garden companions for the aforementioned tomatoes, basil, and parsley.

Most years I buy and plant marigolds in mid-to-late May. But this year, life was full - and the flower bed remained empty. Three weeks into June, I still hadn't made it to the garden center (being busy attending a mountain wedding in Colorado and family crises in California, among other things).

But Nature has a way of sneaking up on us - sometimes with a pleasant surprise. While I was out running around the country, volunteer marigolds were popping up in the beds. (This is called Gardening By Neglect - which practice has proved successful for many a distracted gardener, among them my friend the Goatmother.)

When life had settled down and I found time to clean out the beds, 14 tiny marigold plants were already growing there - a gift from last year.


"Hooray!" I thought. "That's one less thing to buy." The baby marigolds were carefully transplanted into one bed, and watered tenderly through the long weeks of heat and drought. Being doughty little plants, they struggled and grew and held on. And when the weather finally broke and we received some blessed rain, the marigolds burst into life and bloom.

Now full grown and covered with blossom, they happily jostle for space and sing a sunny summer song in joyful notes of yellow and orange.


A bright, unlooked-for blessing in a crowded year.

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20 comments:

  1. I love the story of your hardy yellow and orange marigolds and how they grew back again all on their own! I get the same happening in my window boxes: blue lobelia, tiny pansies and snapdragons always re-seed themselves for my greatest joy! I even have a re-seeded snapdragon growing in my big pot of rosemary and lobelia is growing in with the mint! Aren't plants wonderful?

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    1. Yes they are! I had loads of volunteer violas this year too. They made me ridiculously happy. :)

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  2. We always plant Marigolds. I'm deeply appreciative of plants that will seed themselves. On the north side of the house where only weeds grow we have some Impatiens, a nice annual, that reseed themselves and come back every year.

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    1. I can't grow Impatiens for the life of me. The soil must be wrong, or we have too much light. They just die on me. Lucky you to have them! :)

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  3. It is amazing what growing by neglect can do! I always feel very fond of plants which arrive by themselves. And marigolds are so cheerful too! Juliex

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    1. It's such a bonus, isn't it? Thanks, Julie. :)

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  4. What a beautiful burst of sunny color. I love marigold's too as the deer usually do not eat them, well that is until I plant them
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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    1. Somehow the deer never eat mine...nor the bunnies, squirrels, or chipmunks. :)

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  5. What a great surprise to find in your garden.They look so pretty.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! Made any new quilts lately?

      :)

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  6. I had a marigold plant that died yet I still continued to water and after a while it started to grow again. But then the heat got to it and no amount of watering helped. We usually only are able to have them during the winter months so will find them for sale closer to that time. So nice to see that yours surprised you with bright and beautiful blooms. Have a great weekend. Tammy

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  7. So cheery and bright, I agree with Annie completely.

    I quite like nasturtiums for the same reason and they are excellent at self seeding, I remember one year when I was a kid they popped up everywhere from every little gap in the slabs....so pretty in their scatterdness.

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    1. For some reason I've never grown nasturtiums - but they are such cheerful little flowers. :)

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  8. Marigold has long been a favourite of mine too. :)

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  9. I love your marigolds. I had such a huge patch of them many, many moons ago, and your little collection bears the same glorious variety. I've tried planting them in the current digs, partially to fend off grasshoppers, and the grasshoppers eat them.

    Like your sweet gift, however, I, too, found some pleasant surprises growing in a pot of mint after my garden scorched while I was away and I watered and watered and watered to see if anything would pop back. One lavender mint pot also blooms with brilliant orange and gold now! They are very tiny, possibly due to altitude, but they are growing and making seeds!

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    1. Lavender mint sounds delightful ... especially if it's mixed with marigolds. :)

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