Cool Flowers-Early Spring Bloomers

Nigella damascena or "Love-in-the-Mist"
Nigella or “Love in the Mist”
Beautiful poppy, photographed by Pam Corckran
Beautiful poppy, photographed by Pam Corckran

Early March is the time to sow your Cool Season Annuals as soon as the soil can be “worked”. This term is gardening slang for soil with a texture that is neither mud nor frozen! After determining that my soil was ready by drawing a rake through it, I gathered my cool season annual seeds together with plant stakes, sharpie for marking, and my favorite multi-bladed sowing rake. On the menu for sowing was Poppies, Bells of Ireland, Love-in-the-Mist, Calendula, Clarkia, and Larkspur.

Bells of Ireland are the green spikes in this floral arrangement
Bells of Ireland are the green spikes in this floral arrangement
Calendula seed packet on wooden stake
Calendula seed packet on wooden stake

Cool Season Annuals differ from annuals that you sow after the danger of frost is past because the seeds need cold temperatures to germinate and cool temps to grow well in the garden. When hot weather hits, they are history and I pull them out to make way for annuals that relish the hot weather.

Poppy
Poppy
An annual poppy blooming in June
An annual poppy blooming in June

Growing quickly in the cool temperatures of late winter and early spring, the cool season annuals are old-fashioned flowers that you would find scattered in an English cottage garden. Best sown outdoors, these flowers are frost tolerant and grow quickly to give you a much-needed dose of color after the long winter.

Clarkia, seen at Annie's Annuals in San Francisco
Clarkia, seen at Annie’s Annuals in San Francisco

Raking the soil with my sowing rake is the only preparation needed. I broadcast sprinkle the seeds as evenly as possible, using dry hands, then tamp down the soil firmly with the rake. Sprinkling the surface with bits of straw or leaves helps keep the soil moist and hopefully hides the seed from wandering birds. I spray a light mist of water on top to moisten the surface and wait with anticipation.

Sowing seeds with my favorite rake
Sowing seeds with my favorite rake

Popping up quickly through the leaf litter, weeding and sprinkling with water is necessary if we hit a dry spell. Then it is time for the color show! Cutting flowers from these early blooms make great arrangements in the house.

Calendula Simplicity Mix, from National Garden Bureau
Calendula Simplicity Mix, from National Garden Bureau
Poppy seed heads are great dried and used in arrangements
Poppy seed heads are great dried and used in arrangements
Nigella or Love-in-the-Mist seed pods are beautiful
Nigella or Love-in-the-Mist seed pods are beautiful
Double fringed peony
Double fringed poppy
I love the fringed poppies
I love the fringed poppies

9 Replies to “Cool Flowers-Early Spring Bloomers”

  1. I love your posts and tips on what I might accomplish with plantings. You are remarkable.
    Janet Hatter, Silver Fancy Garden Club

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