I see some lovely flower beds and borders in my various travels around the area, but one recently stopped me literally.  The flower bed lay behind a picturesque wood fence and traversed the whole front of the yard, leaving room only for a driveway.  Instead of having an odds bodkin mixture of flowers, everything from roses to butterfly bushes as mine does, this one had strictly daisy-types.  And instead of growing them in little patches here and there, which is almost pointless since they’re hardly noticed, the flowers grew in huge mounds sometimes a yard or more across.

There were banks of white field daisies and piles of bright yellow coreopsis, oxeye daisies and short, colorful sunflowers, what appeared to be strawflowers, blackeyed susans, and others that I didn’t recognize.  But they were great, good enough for me to stop my pickup truck just to admire them.  One of the nicest things about daisies and their kin is that they can usually handle tough conditions.  Forget to water them now and again, and they’ll still thrive.  Plant them in poor ground with a sprinkling of fertilizer and they’ll do well.  Good plants to have.

Here’s an idea for next spring that can be started now, mixed flower plots.  If you’re mowing too much land and would like to put some of it into plants that are eye catching, useful, and don’t need mowing, select an area in your back yard, mark it off and rototill it.  Then in a couple of weeks, till again to kill off all of the grass and weeds that survived the first effort.  And just before hard frost, till once more, and again in early spring.

You’ll have a patch of soft and fallow ground come planting time that will have few if any weeds and grass, and one worthwhile collection of seeds to plant there is a butterfly and hummingbird mix.  Johnny’s  Selected Seeds has a good example of these, a quarter pound for about $12.95 that’s a lovely mix of Bachelor’s Button, Larkspur, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Wallflower, Lupine, and more.  Instead of mowing boring green  grass, you’ll have many a day of enjoying butterflies and hummingbirds feeding among eye catching flowers.

If you’ve two places that get plenty of sunlight, try tilling up a second patch as above and planting a birdseed collection.  I noticed one of these in Johnny’s too, a mix of small sunflowers, sorghum, Setaria, amaranth, and eleusine.  You can order these at the same site, and perhaps see some unusual birds next fall along with the more usual goldfinches and cardinals.

I’m tempted to do this myself next spring, especially since my short ornamental sunflowers are already bringing in plenty of pretty little gold and black goldfinches.  I love to sit in a lawn chair nearby and watch the little birds hang upside down as they pick out the oil rich seeds.  I didn’t plant them, either.  The finches  drop enough each August to re-seed a new crop next year with no effort on my part.

Speaking of next spring and the catalogs that will be arriving in another month or two, readers might look for some brand new All-American Award Winners as they thumb through the pages of this catalog or that.  Look for unique plants like Purple Haze, a 10 – 12 inch smooth purple carrot that tapers to a point and reveals a bright orange center when cut.  

Look for Mariachi too, a cone-shaped pepper that’s a mildly hot chili pepper, as compared to those like solid fire.  And another pepper, an improved Italian-type sweet pepper that reaches 28 inches and spreads 16 inches, perfect size for patio containers.  Lots of choices this spring and hopefully better weather to plant them.

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