A green space for urban gardeners

Don’t forget the KISS principle when mapping out your garden

Petunia baby duck is very dependable and it's small blossoms are adorable.

Petunia baby duck is very dependable, with adorable, small, yellow-centered blossoms.

It’s easy for me to get caught up in the wake of ambitious dreams when plotting my garden. But lest I drown in the disappointment of plans gone awry, I remind myself of the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid. And yes, I’m talking to me.

Experimenting with lots of untried seeds — hoping they all sprout, hoping they don’t fall prey to my cat’s midnight munchies, and hoping they go on to grow, thrive and bloom — that’s a lot of pressure. Of course, I go into it knowing that some seeds won’t sprout and some that sprout won’t survive. What can I say, it’s a process.

That’s why I follow the simple rule of using plantlets that are already established to fill in the containers. They can take up the slack when my great expectations fall short. I choose things that have worked well in the past. Some of my old reliables arrived by carrier today: petunia baby duck, lisianthus and salvia black and blue.

Petunia is probably the first flowering plant I had success with outside, so it always holds a special spot in my heart and in my balcony garden. I think I’ve planted some version or another every year. The baby duck has a downsized flower but big impact; it’s white with a lustrous yellow throat.

The lisianthus is all greenery right now, but I remember being delightfully surprised on first introduction — after putting it in the planters and forgetting about it — when it exploded with big, showy blooms. I ordered what is dubbed “rose bouquet,” a collection of three colors of the flowers — blue-purple, pale yellow, and pale green. And the salvia, which you’ve seen pictured in previous posts, sprouts these tall blue-tinged-with-black spires in short order.

Besides these standbys, I’ll shop soon for a couple more established plants to add to the roster. I don’t know what they’ll be yet; I like to take a day and just wander the nursery with the hope — or dare I say, dream — of falling in love.


  Stephanie wrote @

Hi Avis! your KISS principle came timely. As you know, I am in the midst of getting more flower plants into my garden. Following your way, I am also looking for suitable seeds from nursery or home centres. Petunia grows well here. I hope your lisianthus will bloom soon! I just googled to see the flower, they are pretty 🙂

  Avis Weathersbee wrote @

As soon as it blooms I will take some pictures and post… I can’t wait to see the pale green. I can’t wait to see the flowers you add to your garden!

  Rose wrote @

An excellent reminder! I don’t have a lot of luck with seeds, especially those I try to start indoors. I usually stick to the tried and true ones that never fail me, like zinnias. Otherwise, I purchase most of my annuals already potted at the local garden center. In this economy I’m trying to watch my pennies, but I’m doing my best to boost the garden industry:) Thanks for visiting me!

  catmint wrote @

Hi Avis, I haven’t visited before. Like your blog. I love wildflower annuals which come back – like nigella (love in the mist). I guess you would need to either move the container when the seeds drop until they sprout, or have an empty container for a while. Maybe it’s not KISS enough. By the way, I love the idea of KISS and try to apply the principle to my whole life. As you cleverly say, the garden cultivates something in us as well. Cheers, catmint

  Racquel wrote @

Good advice Avis, I need to follow that principal myself. lol 😉 By the way Baby Duck Petunia is gorgeous. I love that yellow throat.

  Megan wrote @

It’s a good rule to remember. I want one of every plant at the nursery, but once I see it all growing in a mish mash, and some plants don’t perform, I feel like I really ought to rely more heavily on some of my old reliable favorites. But I’m probably hopeless.

  Christine wrote @

I love the KISS principal and, in my own rather eclectic way, employ it in my garden. Thanks for the visit to my blog. I’ll be visiting yours again soon!

  Christine wrote @

Hello Avis, thanks for visiting my blog. I love your KISS principle! For one thing it avoids the disappointment of massive expectations! Hardy perennials that come up year after year are my idea of gardening 🙂 Of course, I do tend to move things around quite a bit 🙂

  Lynne wrote @

Keeping it simple – yep, that is the key. It’s the big planning that keeps me from being bothered. I decided to keep it simple for my return to the potted garden. Ah the joys of gardening…

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