A green space for urban gardeners

The garden started without me: spontaneous blooms are the first of season

I’ve been slow to get my sprouts into the garden, what with waiting out the weather and other distractions. Apparently, though, the garden decided it wouldn’t wait for me.

Despite the fact that I pretty much build my garden on annuals because I don’t expect anything sitting in plastic planters on an exposed balcony, enduring the harsh Chicago winter and winds, to regenerate — I’ve been pleasantly surprised in recent days…

Things started to sprout spontaneously in the moist (and evidently fertile) soil inside my containers. And not all of those things were weeds! (smile)

I’ve got petunias! Chives! Oregano! And pansies!

The pansies sprang up in pretty much the same spot where they stood in my late-fall garden that lasted past Thanksgiving — oddly, though, they’re not the same color as the ones that were there before.

The ones I had before were orange, fringed in purple with purple eyes, while the new ones are solid orange, nestled alongside white ones with purple eyes! A completely different look! I’m sure there’s a scientific explanation for this, and I’m hopeful one of you will enlighten me.

I think pansies are grown as annuals, so I count myself lucky that they came back in such lovely form.

As for the chives, I’m kind of excited about them. There is a crop in both of the herb planters, and they’re already fairly tall. Last year my placement plan for the chives was drawn with the expectation that they would produce those lavender flower heads as colorful accents among the green of the herbs.

Unfortunately, I never got any flowers on those chives. That’s why I was so thrilled to see that there already are buds on the new chive bunches. I’ve decided to center them at the rear of the herb planters for vertical height, and with any luck, a burst of color.

The Greek oregano pretty much set up in the same spot I had it in last season, and I can’t think of a better place for it.

And finally, the petunias. The saying that “the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree” doesn’t apply to flowers and seeds. Not only are petunias sprouting in the containers where they were planted last year, but they’ve migrated into places somewhat removed from those original containers.

Petunias made their way across the balcony and into my herb planters — and even into my cat’s flat of grass seated on the deck of the balcony! So, I’ve been busily (and carefully) uprooting them from some places and trying to arrange them artfully in the planter boxes where hopefully my developing sprouts will fill in and bloom around them.

The deep purple, magenta colored and my yellow baby duck petunias have all made a comeback. And there are a few that haven’t flowered yet, so I have hopes there will be more surprises down the road.

Though petunias were one of the first flowers I planted when I started balcony gardening, I hadn’t planned on buying any this year. I’d only planted a few delicate “sky blue” petunia seeds, which by the way, have sprouted already. My plan was to try more new varieties this year and to try to grow pretty much everything from seed.

But, Mother Nature altered the plan, and I’m just gonna go with it.

[Photos, from top: magenta petunia, white and purple pansy, orange pansy, baby duck petunia, and chives]


  Stephanie wrote @

Hi Avis, you have never fail to inspire! With regards to herbs, to date, I have managed to grow rosemary and mint only. I just love the smell the plants releases whenever I water them. It’s so refreshing! (Never used them for any cooking he he…) After reading this post, I am begining to like petunia coz yours is so pretty! Overall, excellent colour choices 😀 All so unique as well.

Btw, that hibiscus you liked, now, more and more nurseries are selling it here 😉 If only you live here, then, you can have one at home. In any case, if mine produces seed, I’ll send you some.

  Andrea wrote @

Love the purple-and-white pansies!

  City Diggity wrote @

Those pansies are striking and were a complete surprise!

  Wendy wrote @

That’s wonderful! I wonder what would come back if I just waited a bit and didn’t rush in to replant containers.

  linda wrote @

Nature is truly magnificent! How cool that you’ve got blooms returning without any effort. You’ve got a great start on this season’s garden Avis.

  Lesley Mills wrote @

Avis–I first visited Chicago about a year ago and thought it a great city. You have a wonderful site!

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