Planning the Garden in the time of COVID-19

I’ve been thinking about my garden for a few weeks now – ever since the shutdown of essential services I’ve wondered if I would be able to get to the nursery in the spring to buy flowers. Usually each year I try to add a few more perennials and fill in the gaps – as well as my containers – with annuals for immediate colour. I came to the conclusion that it would be best to buy some seeds and start them indoors, which would not only give me something to do while stuck at home, but would also make the yard more enjoyable in the summer if the nurseries should be closed and this lockdown should last so long.

Today I was delighted to find some seeds at the Independent Grocery Store at Hazeldean Mall while trying to pick up some groceries (which was horrible – I couldn’t get a cart or basket, and was only able to buy what I could carry) and selected a few that I thought would add some colour. Normally I try to buy flowers that will attract hummingbirds and butterflies, but beggars can’t be choosers, and it is getting a little late to order online or wait until my next essential grocery run to see what another store may have. Still, I managed to get some flowers that should benefit the wildlife in my backyard.

Bachelor’s Buttons – I’d had luck growing these in the past, though I’d purchased them so that the birds could feed on the seeds long before I became interested in butterflies and other pollinators. It turns out that their flowers are attractive to pollinators, too!

Cosmos – this is another flower I’d tried in the past, again to provide seed for birds in the fall. If I recall correctly, I did find goldfinches feeding on them and the Bachelor’s Buttons! Apparently their open flowers provide easy access to nectar and pollen for pollinators as well.

Nasturtium – I might have tried this in the garden before, but if so I don’t remember how it performed or whether it attracted any beneficial insects. I chose this mainly for the bright orange flowers, as all my other choices were blue, pink and purple, however, it does appear that they will attract long-tongued bumblebees, butterflies, hummingbirds…and aphids. Well, maybe now the aphids will leave my viburnum alone.

Sweet Pea – this is a new flower for the garden and one that can climb. It sounds as though it is beneficial to pollinators, but does not seem to be on anyone’s top ten list.

Wild Flax – the only perennial on my list, I chose it for its pretty blue flowers with yellow centers. It too sounds as though it is beneficial to pollinators, though not as strongly recommended as other flowers.

Flower Time for seedlings to emerge Earliest Date
Bachelor’s Buttons 12-21 days April 23, 2020
Cosmos 7-10 days April 18, 2020
Nasturtium 10-14 days April 21, 2020
Sweet Pea 10-14 days April 21, 2020
Wild Flax 10-21 days April 21, 2020

I’ve had mixed results growing plants from seeds in the past, with slightly more successes than failures. Hopefully these seeds will be successful and provide plenty of flowers for the flower flies, bees, beetles and butterflies to enjoy this summer – stay tuned for updates!

3 thoughts on “Planning the Garden in the time of COVID-19

  1. I used to grow 4 of those 5 in Westport when I had a big garden. Sweet peas can go in the ground earlier than most seeds as they like the cold ground for some reason. I always had them climb an arbour or trellis and they’ve always been a favourite of mine. BTW…I’ve had lots of issues commenting lately. When I use the FB login it always says “FB login expired”…never had these issues before.

    • That’s weird about the commenting issues. I didn’t get a new comment notification right in the blog – I had to check my email to see if it was there. Not sure what’s going on.

      I wish I had a big garden. We were planning on getting our fence re-done this summer, as well as the “sun” garden that runs alongside it – I was planning on enlarging it to fit in more butterfly and pollinator plants. It looks like that is on hold until after the lock-down ends, so these flowers should do nicely until I can plan a proper garden with perennials such as coneflower and milkweed.

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