Ready to Grow

Balsam impatiens are sometimes impatient.  These seeds started to grow without even hitting the ground.  I helped the little plants safely to the soil to continue their growth.


Mystery Plant

I had put several pots away in the garage awhile ago.  I was surprised to see plants had germinated in the dark space.

I was not sure what they were, so I brought them outside to the sunlight to see what would develop.  As soon as the second leaves appeared, I knew they were Balsam Impatiens. It is a mystery of how the seeds got in the pot, as I normally seed the Impatiens directly in the soil.

They have been added back to the bed with the others. Gardening is always full of great surprises.

Garden Happenings

There is nothing like starting the day being greeted by a happy Mexican Sunflower drenched in morning sunlight.



In my wooded area I came across ten or more Cicada Hunters.  They look like the world’s largest bees, but  they didn’t pay any attention to me and I was able to stand among them to snap a photo.  In the front yard I found a Rosy Wolf Snail shell.  It was a large one and the snail probably lived a long life.


There has been a new hatching of baby lizards and they are everywhere.  The other night when we arrived home in the dark, we were first greeted by a juvenile toad and in the corner of the brick pillar, a Carolina Wren was tucked away for the night.  I haven’t gotten a photo this year, but Pileated Woodpeckers have been announcing their arrival to the garden.

Why and what did this?  Some critter made a neat little path through my Balsam Impatiens bed.  It is always hard to leave the the garden and after some time away, the weeds took over a bed.

And now the weird and amazing.  I found mushrooms growing in a bag of compost.  I had planned to use it months ago, it never happened and the mushrooms grew.  Plants just can’t be stopped.

They’re Back and Blooming

After a year of record breaking rain and freezing temperatures down to the teens, I was worried about my plants returning.  But, they’re back and bigger than ever.  I have been growing these reseeding Black Eyed Susan for many years and have never seen the flowers this large.

A seed from a Blanket Flower made its way across the driveway to grow in this crack.

It seems very happy against the hot wall and drive.

Speaking of hot,  Hot Lips is back.  It is Salvia microphylla.

The Mexican Hat returned. Being in a raised bed might have helped it survive the rains as they prefer drier soil.

One of my all time favorites, Balsam Impatiens, germinated from the seeds they dropped last year. Surprisingly, the seeds were not washed away.

These plants were grown by our founding fathers.

The Tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata), managed to reseed a plant or two.

Even though the Butterfly Weed froze to the ground, the roots survived and it is ready for the Monarchs to visit.

A Five Lined Skink photo bombed the shoot.

Although most of the plants survived, there is always room for something new.  I added this Bat Faced Cuphea, but expected it to be red and dark purple, but it is pretty anyway.

Another new addition is this petunia that just showed up in a front yard bed.  I know I grew some several years ago.  Did the seed survive or blow in from a neighbor?  I will enjoy it while it’s here.

My winter anxiety has finally been relieved by seeing new blooms everyday. The Automatic Garden survived.


The Balsam Impatiens Tour Continues


Last summer a stop at Monticello gave me a chance to photograph the Balsam Impatiens growing in Thomas Jefferson’s garden.  I have also seen them growing in the Old North Church in Boston.  This year’s trip lead me to George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Balsam Impatiens (right corner) are lining the garden bed.  I often wonder who brought these plants to America and who passed the seeds along.

The Balsam Impatiens that I am growing in the Automatic Garden are originally from Mt. Vernon.  I love these plants and blog about them often.  They reseed themselves, germinate, and bloom twice a year in this climate.


Here is a shot of Mt. Vernon on the side facing the Potomac.  I seem to visit these houses during renovations.

Second Growth


The second growth of the Balsam Impatiens is shown here at the end of July.  The seedlings have their second and third leaves.  The bed does look chaotic. The finished plants are cut, so the the seedlings are not pulled out of the ground and the seeds were also collected.  Soon the bed will only contain the young Balsams.

DSC_0305Some of the seeds just can’t wait and germinated while still inside the pod. Interesting, the seedling has punched through the pod as a chick would peck out of an egg.


The Balsam Impatiens have now matured and any seeds that drop will stay dormant until early spring.  The original batch of seeds were purchased at Mt. Vernon, George Washington’s home, representing some of the flowers he grew.


Here are some Balsam Impatiens growing at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson our 3rd president.  This plant has been grown since Colonial time in the U.S.  It is a nice connection to keep them growing. The plants are native to Asia, Burma and India.  Imagine the seeds of these beautiful flowers being transported all over the world by ship and passed along to friends.


A shot across the lawn at Monticello, which was having some maintenance done this summer.

Never Met a Volunteer I Didn’t Like


What is it with plants growing in cracks and in between rocks?  Balsam Impatiens seeds made it down the garden path and planted themselves in the rocks.  There is hardly any soil and nothing to retain moisture, and yet they are some of the more robust of the Balsams in the garden.


How this Pink Flamingo Feather Celosia landed here is a mystery as the other ones are far away and have been struggling to survive.  It may have had help from a bird.  The plant might be more successful with reproduction in this spot.


In the middle of the Pentas, this Cockscomb Celosia came up.  The Pentas were purchased new this year and I believe the Celosia was mixed in at the greenhouse.

I find the habits of plants to be fascinating and their ability to reproduce and even move to new locations amazing.  All volunteers are welcome…even if they don’t match the other flowers in the bed!



The bed of Balsam Impatiens is now in full bloom.  It self-seeded last fall and the seeds waited out the winter for the perfect time to germinate.


The Balsam Impatiens will soon begin the reseeding cycle for one more blooming period in late summer.  The plants will go to seed again in late fall.

The Automatic Garden in Action


The Poppies are almost finished and their seed heads are ripening.


The Poppies’ seeds were scattered in late October after the Balsam Impatiens finished. Balsam Impatiens are great reseeders as their pods pop open and fling the seeds out for perfect planting.  They were grown by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.


The Balsam Impatiens (the small plants with pointed leaves)  germinated just when the Poppies are ending their growing season.  Perfect timing for the Automatic Garden.


Harvest Time for Seeds


It is time to start collecting seeds to keep the Automatic Gardening growing. Autumn is the end of the  flowering season for many plants, but also the beginning of next season in the promise of seeds.

As it turns out, Four O’Clocks, originally from Mexico, love it here and are very prolific.  The seeds need to be collected to stop an over abundance of plants.


Bartram’s Evening Primrose no longer needs to be watched and coddled as it has come into its own.  It has reseeded itself and made thousands, if not millions of tiny black seeds this year.  An Automatic Garden success!


Balsam Impatients, otherwise known as poppers, have the habit of popping open and flinging their seeds as far as they can.  It is always a good idea to collect some to plant where the human gardener desires.  These came from George Washington garden.  They were probably shared among many of the early colonists.


Wish Bone flowers make extremely small tan seeds that are difficult to collect.  They are left to do their own thing and after the seeds germinate the seedlings are moved to beds.


These wonderful seed pods belong to the Philippine Lily.  Each pod is stuffed full of flat seeds and are released as the wind blows.


Salvias are old garden friends.  They are totally left on their own and never fail to reproduce and provide for the bees and hummingbirds each year.


Some seeds need to be collected to prevent reproduction.  This wild and lovely little bean made it way into the garden.  As with all wild things in a garden, it needs to be controlled, so as many seed pods as possible are collected.  The pods twist open when ripe and send their seeds as far as they can.