We have a nasty patch of rubble in the back alley guarded by unsightly bent pipes that protect a gas meter. Every fall I throw a packet of wildflower seeds down, scratch them in, and wait to see what the rains will bring. It’s different every year. Nasturtiums and poppies duke it out neck and neck for starters (below). Quickly followed by the big guys: penstamom, coreopsis, feverfew, lupine and cosmos (above).
I like to carry a packet or two of wildflower seeds in my pocket and play Johnny Appleseed in neglected patches of urban dirt while out walking. Big rewards for pennies, and fun to track when spring cuts loose.
Artist and calligrapher, Sue Nan Douglass, created this playful, delicate piece, “Wildflowers II” using Steig lightfast color markers and eraser stamps she carved. The stacked, packed repetition of the names of flowers with repeating stamps on 8″ x 10″ paper testifies to the unexpectedly big power of small.
Walt Whitman described the power of small in “Leaves of Grass,” a monumental and quintessentially American book that he spent his entire life writing and revising, from its first publication on 1855 until his “death bed edition” published in 1892, two months before his passing..
I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work
of the stars,
And the pismire is equally perfect, and a grain of sand, and
the egg of the wren,
And the tree-toad is a chef-d’oeuvre for the highest,
And the running blackberry would adorn the parlors of
And the narrowest hinge in my hand puts to scorn all machinery,
And the cow crunching with depress’d head surpasses any
And a mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels.
Editors Note: We asked Susan if we could STILL throw a handful of wildflower seeds and have them come up. Her answer: “Wildflowers always find a way.”
Related posts: the tenacity of spring (and us)
making a table garden with cheap potted bulbs
portable milk crate farm (d-i-y), for roof, terrace, lot
dill weed (and other edible) flower arrangements
guerilla florist bella meyer: “flowers as natural art supplies”