Still Silently Seeking Seeds

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Well, you know how it is - when seedlists appear I go right into seek mode, flagging corners on each page of printed copies, making a mental note of where I would grow that species in the garden, deciding what really is the difference in that subspecies or the other, do I want to travel someday to that habitat, and do I need it - really (yes). Seeking is one of the blue ribbon emotions in animals according to what I read in "Animals Make Us Human" by Temple Grandin. It did not take much for me, albeit an animal, but at the top of the chain, to relate personally to what I read, especially about curiosity. Grandin's blue ribbon emotions “generate well-organized behavior sequences that can be evoked by localized electrical stimulation”. So change out the words "localized electrical" for email. Seeking, I understand, is anticipation, curiosity and desire all rolled together. Don't confuse this with pleasure. As any seed-aholic knows, it's the trill of the call...anticipation to investigate...the "what's new!" as one opens the list. Even if I don't order a thing, the world, my world, will be further framed with exploration, understanding and sense. I don't have to smell the flower; just the wonder will do. According to Grandin this emotion is from a genetic basis, not a learned behaviors. This is exactly what I tell my family - it's genetic! Yes I agree. To be truly happy, I instinctively peruse any seedlist that comes my way.

A mere glance at my first NARGS seedlist (back in the 1980'ies) evoked expanding images of my favorite vision-the garden and the wild. As I became attuned to various collections/collector's lists, a kaleidoscope of images poured out. At that time I was very much a devotee of Carrol's Alice, and remember I immediately sensed "burning with curiosity" when I saw an unknown seedlist on my friend's Norman's kitchen table.  Credit him for feeding me an endless supply of lists, many private as he regaled me with stories of packaging seeds on Ev Whittemore's kitchen table for the (then) ARGS. For me each seedlist opens "curiouser and curiouser." Is that a species new to cultivation or is it a rename like Spongiocarpella to Chesneya purpurea? Just when one thinks they have the coloring book of the world finished, something else, fantastic and amazing, pops up on a list. And so far, I am only up to the rock garden plants.

This should give you an idea of the restraint necessary to pass up the opportunity to open a list, any list. When Holubec's list came just before the holidays, I swooned. But briefly, as there were pressing gifts to find for other people, holiday parties, small grandchildren to tend, oh and add in the Big Project due at work. So I procrastinated, since it actually takes time to mail an order. But to be fair, I just kept up with the little people and could not think of anything else.

But during the hiatus of the Christmas holidays, I was on auto pilot. Not a thought but "get the order in" prevailed when the NARGS seedlist alarm went off in my desktop calendar. In case of a seedlist like this, it matters to get one's order in immediately, for a place in fulfillment line. So I, and let me humbly say, in two brief evening sittings, got the online order submitted and paid before a disciplined work ethic could prevail . (Yes, online seed sources are very dangerous. Congratulations to NARGS for making their list so accessible for seed-aholics everywhere to imbibe before reason or the three year old demands attention.)

The annual tea with "seedy" fellows, mostly western Astragalus
Other lists came flashing in via email. By then restraint conditioned from the hundreds of daily emails (the ones that make it past the spam filter because I really want to read them - someday) easily took hold. Alplains snail mailed their catalog, bypassing my conditioning. What a great list! The listing of phlox captured my sensibilities. Pages marked, I was ready to order them all. But wait. As I cleaned up after the holiday clutter I was taken aback by my gardening tins. There were hundreds of seeds I did not get to sow last year! Argh.


Time to regroup. I swore on the spot I would not order until I had sowed every packet in the house. Alpines that is. No need to think of vegetables until February or March. This resolution was short lived. I attended my local Primula Society meeting at Matt & Joe's. The chapter had purchased a share in Chris Chadwell's expedition and was dividing the seeds. How could I refuse to try Primula reidii one more time?  I know just the spot for it now - positioned at the grit base of the sax crevice bed. Who knows when seed will available again?

Ok, but that is all I told myself. No ordering until everything is sowed. So I set to work mixing up soil-less potting mix with sand blasting grit, 5 to 1. After packing small seedling pots full of the mix, I spread the seeds on top for things like penstemons, barely covered saxifraga with grit, and completely covered astragalus and oxytropis (which I had soaked) with a hefty half inch of the grit. I went ahead and planted Ranunculaceae types, even though I have had poor luck with second year sowings. But I am a gardener, so hope prevails.

Chorispora bungeana soaking in warm water
When I was soaking the pea family seeds in preparation, I thought to include Chorispora bungeana just to give it a boost. This delicate little brassica from Afghanistan and Pakistan did plump up eventually, and it turned the water a light green! After its photo, I added a little pineapple juice to the cup and stirred. Several more seeds sank to the bottom and plumped.

Now all seeds needing stratification have been sown and placed outside. The weather cooperated and added a light covering of snow. This morning is was -12 F (-24C) and going colder tonight. We'll have a short thaw next weekend. Perfect. That leaves plenty of time for the 92 species to put under lights in the basement. Next weekend!

This has temporarily limited my enthusiasm for sowing. So I must be silent when I seek through the lists. Don't you miss out. Check out exotic Holubec or western US Alplains  or Chadwell Seeds and order. Grow something new and marvelous. Pot up a few extras to share at meetings. See you there.  Happy Gardening!

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