Mixed larkspur. Photo: gardening with tomleroy.com

The secret to gardening is planting ahead. So today Grumpy is going to present you with an easy project that will take only minutes to do and have you loving yourself forever next spring. Sow seeds of these three spring flowers. They're cheap and they're beautiful.

Pretty Flower #1 -- Larkspur I've always lusted for the stately blue spires of delphiniums that grace European gardens, but delphiniums don't grow well in the South. Fortunately, we have close cousins that perform the same function and love it here -- larkspurs.

Like delphiniums, larkspurs come in a rainbow of colors -- purple, blue, lavender, pink, salmon, and white -- and their flower spikes stand two to five feet high. Unlike delphiniums, however, their foliage is feathery -- much prettier in my estimation -- and they're annuals, not perennials. Then again, delphiniums might as well be considered annuals here, as they seldom live longer than a year.

Pretty Flower #2 -- Poppy

 

Opium poppy. Photo: deamuseum.org

The second flower you need to sow now is poppy (Papaver sp.). There are lots of different poppies, but the ones that do best in the South are annuals that flower in spring, set seed, die, and come back the next year. Examples include Iceland poppies, Shirley poppies (also called Flanders Field poppies), and Grumpy's favorite, Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum).

Yes, the latter is the same kind villagers make opium from in Afghanistan. It's also the same one Dorothy, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion ran through to get to the Emerald City -- AND the one you eat on poppy seed rolls that make you fail your drug test to be a Wal-Mart greeter. It's legal to sell the seeds and the seed pods are easy to share. However, it's technically illegal to grow them, although unless you work for the Taliban, this law is seldom enforced. Opium poppies are just too pretty.

Pretty Flower #3 -- Love-In-A-Mist

 

Love-in-a-Mist. Photo: rareseeds.com

Do you enjoy love-in-a-mist? I have a satellite photo from NASA that proves you do. This is one of those old-timey annual flowers people seldom plant anymore. Why? I don't know. Also called love-in-a-puff, Nigella damascena grows about 15 inches high with feathery foliage like that of larkspur. Blooms may be blue, pink, or white. After the blooms fade, you get these really cool seed pods that are excellent for arrangements.

How To Grow This is so easy even the operator of the crane below could master it.

 

My bad!

Step 1. Buy seed packets of larkspur, poppies, and love-in-a-mist. You can get them in garden centers or order online from Rare Seeds, Bouncing Bear Botanicals, or Select Seeds.

Step 2. Open seed packet and sprinkle seeds into your hand.

Step 3. Find a patch of bare soil in your flower garden.

Step 4. Sprinkle seeds onto this bare patch of soil.

Step 5. Use a hard rake to gently rake the surface of the soil and barely cover the seed. DO NOT MULCH!

Step 6. Drink beer, watch football, pig out on Turkey Day, light trees and open presents, watch it snow, give spouse a Valentine's card if you value your life, wash pollen off of your car and cat, and drink more beer. In April, enjoy your flowers!

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