AUTUMN PLANTING, Spring on Steroids (part 1)

I was all set to go on about how this is primo planting time and then discuss a few must-haves. But then I woke up: discussing Fall Planting is like discussing Volunteers, a book, not a post. Last time I tried, “volunteers” became ” shirley poppies” with everything else on the in-a-minute list.

A minute having gone by, this will be about Italian parsley, a must-have volunteer.

But first the annual reminder: time to get those bulb orders in! And that includes the garlic, if you want to try something new from the dozens of types available.

As usual, garlic is the least of it. We’ll mostly be planting  tulips and alliums, including more of

tulip 'Mount Tacoma,' not generally sold in stores

tulip 'Mount Tacoma,' not generally sold in stores

for the white garden in Maine.

For New York, there’s yet more crocus, both species and giant Dutch, and of course a few more lilies –  primarily trumpets.

this one is 'Golden Splendor,' rock-solid reliable

this one is 'Golden Splendor,' rock-solid reliable

and  Japanese lilies (L. speciosum) the last lilies to bloom.

Lily 'Speciosum rubrum.' Bill brought these up from New York; the ones in the Maine garden are fewer and later.

Lily Speciosum rubrum. Bill just brought these up from New York; the ones in the Maine garden are fewer and later.

Mercifully, it’s not time yet to plant or move peonies (although it is time to clean them up), and …what was I just saying about too much?

Onward to the parsley! Can’t have too much of that.

this carpet of Italian parsley more or less fills a triangular bed that's half of an old 8x4 footer

Self-sown Italian parsley; the full carpet is roughly 12 square feet

Or more accurately, can’t have too much parsley until the end of the season, when it’s time to thin them out, leaving just a few well-spaced plants for late harvest and next year’s seeds.

Letting the plants stay semi-crowded* produces weak growth, so the stalks and leaves stay tender and sweet for longer than they would otherwise. But as the days get shorter and colder weakness becomes a liability. Only strong plants can keep producing right through to late fall, then live dormant over winter, resume growth in spring and make seeds in their second summer.

I should have removed more of the flowering stems; nobody needs that many parsley seeds. Oh well.

Last year and this year (and next year), flowers, leaves (and still-forming seeds).

Once you get the sequence going, parsley seeds will sprout unbidden in a skirt several feet in diameter around the parent plant. And because they’re the seeds of  well-adapted parsley, they’ll grow more quickly and robustly than newly purchased seeds.

This is important in the land of the self-sown: white sweet alyssum in the first picture, blue forget-me-nots above and myrtle spurge ( Euphorbia myrsinites) raising its pretty  head below

leslie land euphorbia and parsley

* Semi-crowded is because you do have to give them a little room to breathe. Absolutely packed like the subway at rush hour = plants so stressed they bolt

Tulip ‘Mt. Tacoma’ photo by Kristi Niedermann

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  • Rebecca Mitchell Said,

    Leslie — these suggestions re keeping a parsley colony going are very helpful.
    I do love self-sowers — Euphorbia myrsinites is a favorite as is Verbena bonariensis. In any case, it is always nice to be rewarded for laziness and self-sowing is a perfect excuse for not messing about too much in the spring.

    By the way, I like your new magazine-like blog.

  • Leslie Said,

    Thanks, Rebecca, for the complement and the mention of V. bonariensis, one of the all-time great volunteers. I’ve seen it condemned as a pest but it’s always welcome here (and so is the idea that laziness is worthy of reward).

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