The more time I spend watching the garden the more I have wondered about just how many flowers there are at any one time. The plants I grow tend to have many, many tiny flowers and this afternoon I have been out to try to roughly estimate their numbers.
There are lots of forget me nots at the moment. I let them grow, flower and set seed for next year and really cherish their cheery faces. I counted at least 250 flowers on one small plant and at least the equivalent of another fifty similar sized plants (counting larger ones as two or more). This gives at least 12,500 individual flowers!
Thence to the lamb’s lettuce which I also leave to flower and set seed for next year’s harvests of early salad leaves. I think there are at least 800 extremely tiny flowers on this plant.
There were another 800 plus flowers on just one sweet cicely and I’m afraid I didn’t count the number of plants.
The mustard grown as green manure had at least 1200 flowers on the 60 or so flower heads I was able to count in the breeze.
I didn’t attempt to estimate the additional flowers on the aubretia, bugle, honesty, erisymum, land cress, dandelions, daisies and blackthorn, nor the apple and cherry blossom or the flowers on jostaberries, gooseberries and various currants. There were at least 15,000 flowers on the plants I did estimate which is far more than I had expected and importantly each one is potential food for insects of all kinds with plenty more to come as the year moves on.
I will have to get some sweet cicely. Years ago someone gave me some and I added it to the rhubarb and I didn’t need nearly as much sugar as usual. Your forget-me-nots are cheery little plants.
Regarding sweet cicely: I’ve had a few dried seeds germinate on moist kitchen tissue in a plastic takeaway box. I think I had to wait a few weeks for the first one to germinate. If I remember correctly, I put them carefully into compost in pots in the garden, where the seedlings were promptly eaten by slugs. Ah well…
I’ve taken to trying the moist tissue method for seed germination as a way to avoid buying compost. I can make good quantities of my own compost just by sieving the compost heap occasionally, but that is then full of weed seeds which germinate and grow rapidly, so it’s not suitable for growing any seeds that are slow to germinate.
Another example: I bought melon seeds and I read that they need warmth to germinate, so I put one in a small pot of compost on top of the central heating boiler. After a good few weeks of eagerly watering the pot and checking for germination, there was not the slightest hint that the seed was going to do anything. I took another seed and put it in a plastic box on moist kitchen tissue, and put the box on one of the radiators – in about 2 days it had already germinated and was growing strongly, and is now a decent-sized seedling in my garden. So, this seems to be a method that works well for some kinds of seeds.
Anni, I bought your book (Edible Perennial Gardening) – very impressed so far! I’m really keen to read the rest of it.
That sounds like a good method as long as you can avoid post germination slug damage! My hairdresser who grows lots of Thai vegetables gave me similar advice about germination that she learned from her grandmother years ago!
I am so glad you are liking the book! It is very special to have comments from readers – I had you all in mind as I wrote but it’s only through direct feedback that I can tell if I made myself clear and communicated what I wanted to.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I’ve never managed to successfully germinate sweet cicely. I’m very jealous: it’s a lovely plant and a great flavour!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have a small sweet cicely plant which I bought in desperation as my seeds have not germinated either. AlthoughI believe that if I leave them alone this time next year they might have decided to. Is that true do ypu thin?
LikeLiked by 1 person
I did exactly the same thing originally. Once I had that first plant established it set seed very freely. I have been told you have to have fresh seed to germinate and it never really can be once it has been packed and distributed by seed companies. I expect you will have lots of plants next year!
Hi Peter, I can probably let you have one or more of my seedlings. They quickly put down a good sized taproot and don’t like being dug up, but if I can find some not too big nor too small I will send to you. Once you have them they will seed profusely.