Friday, August 5, 2011

Who Am I?

Months ago, what feels like a lifetime away, I received some seeds in the mail from my mother-in-law.  Envelopes marked red flowers with white center, gold and pink flowers, and small bushy yellow flowers.  An array of treasures but no clear means of knowing exactly what they might become.  Several of these treasures were started indoors and are growing up.  No flowers yet but I thought perhaps I would post some pictures and see if there are any guesses of the parentage.

Our first plant came from a very tiny black seed.  There were only about a dozen of these seeds in the package so I was happy to see them all germinate and begin to grow.

Marked as red flowers with white centres
I planted them in medium light, a little shade from a birch tree, rather than put them in direct sun.  I didn't want to risk baking them if they were shade plants.  They are growing slowly but surely and I haven't the slightest clue what they might be.  The stems were very floppy from staying in the house too long and the plants have fallen on their sides so they look much shorter than they should.  Presently they are only about 6 inches high but I suspect they should be more like one foot tall.  Does this leaf shape mean anything to anyone reading?  Have you got a guess what this plant may be?

In another package was millions of fluffy seeds. 

More seeds than I could shake a stick at so I didn't worry about germination at all.  I should have though, out of a possible 20 or so seeds only two plants emerged. 

I'm not 100% certain what this is but my suspicion is that it's a poppy.  Anyone with me?

Seeds aside I also took home some mystery plants from the plant sale this spring.  They are growing happily and finally are at a stage where identification may be possible. 

A flower head that looks like the carrot family
The above flower was marked simply with a question mark.  Little wonder no one wanted to buy it.  But I'm a sucker for a fun game and brought it home.  As the flower has opened I've been delighted.  Something in the carrot family.
Soft frilly leaves on this plant that also resemble carrot
Perhaps Queen Anne's Lace?  But no the leaves are closer together and more fernlike than that plant.  Checking again I thought possibly Cow Parsley.  Would you agree?

These plants have been sitting for months now waiting to be planted but unsure what they were I hesitated to put them in the garden. 

One evening I walked out and my what colour I found.  Bright yellow blooms beckoned and I will definitely make a place for these.  My neighbour guessed it might be Evening Primrose and I have to agree.  Do you?

Early in the spring I dug up some bell flowers from the knot garden area and moved them to my entrance garden.  I hadn't looked at them at all until they started blooming and I realized that although I had moved some bell flowers there was also this white intruder. 

very pretty but not a bell flower
Similar leaf shape and cozied right up to the bell flower so it looked like the same plant but definitely not a bell flower.  At first I thought feverfew but I have that in another part of the garden and the leaf is very different.  Some more internet searches and I've come across a plant called Sneezewort or Achillea ptarmica.

Leaves are very similar to the bellflower on the left
  Does this plant look familiar to anyone?

The final puzzle is the mysterious corm. 

It grew a couple inches high and then stopped
It's been taking it's sweet time to start growing.  Initially the shoot came up quickly but it stopped at a couple inches high and refused to grow any further.  Perhaps it is dissatisfied with the cool temperatures this summer?  I tried fertilizer to encourage it.  Even pampered it with extra waterings.  Considered building it it's own private greenhouse..... 

Another shot of fertilizer finally got some action happening.

The leaf appears to be triangular in shape but it's hard to tell at this point
It is still pitifully small and the leaves haven't properly unfurled but I can now make out the 'leopard spots' that I had been told mark this plant.  I wish I knew what this plant was so I could make sure I had the right growing conditions for it but until it grows I have no way to identify it!  Rather a chicken and the egg conundrum.  Has anyone got any ideas what this might be?


  1. sorry Marguerite the only ones I thought I might know are the ones you name, Evening Primrose and the not Feverfew but probably Snezzewort,
    I too have some unknown seedlings growing, I scattered some packets on the new raised bed, one packet was Clarkia which I have never heard of before the other packet was mixed annuals (might not be the same as packet photo), I thought I recognized marigolds but now the bud is there I'm not sure and a ferny foliage one with buds that look like daisies the leaves have an aroma which reminds me of something familia but I can't think what, I am waiting for flowers before posting on my blog, I shall be interested if anyone recognised yours,
    it adds to the fun of gardening, Frances

  2. What fun! Gotta love a good mystery... Can't be much help I'm afraid, although that does indeed look rather poppy-like, although the poppies I have grown all had non furry small dark seed. The only things I have grown from fluffy looking seeds have been cornflours of various sorts. I'm not sure your white pretty lacy flower is what I would call cow parsley, our cow parsley has much broader flower heads with more obvious separate umbels. Its lovely though. Good luck with the ids, I'm sure more knowledgable people will soon be on the case!

  3. Hi Marguerite, this in the family carrot you found... try not to let it go to seed as you will have a yard of it. I enjoy watching your garden grow. I'd like to know what the flower was you gave me that I will never see, and perhaps a picture of it in bloom. I have purple and red poppies this year in my Red Hatters garden, they are full carnation poppies, let me know if you would like some seed.

  4. Marguerite while doing mindless jobs around the house this morning mystery plants were in my thoughts and I think your fluffy seeds cound be Globe thistle, Echinops ritro,
    if it is lucky you as I love this plant but the one I had did not seed prolifically here and the plant finally died, Frances

  5. The first plant looks like Maltese Cross or Lychnis calcedonica. It can get to 3 ft tall and indeed has orangish red flowers that attract hummingbirds. I grew it in my zone 4 garden in NY but it also grows here in VA. The Queen Anne's Lace looks exactly like...Queen Anne's Lace. I think you're right the evening primrose and the tiny white flowered plant could be achillea. I have one in my garden called The Pearl with flowers that look identical. The leaves are short, thin and dark green.

  6. Frances - That would be exciting if it was Globe Thistle. I do really enjoy that plant. But I'm not sure it is. I checked some pictures and the leaves on globe thistle seem a bit pointier than the ones I have. But who knows? Leaves sometimes change shape as they mature so it's certainly a possibility. Like you, I find it rather fun and educational learning what plants develop from different seeds.

    Janet - Really good point, poppies generally have tiny black seeds which would rule out this being a poppy. I've started researching flowers by seed now trying to match them up. Gaillardia, daisies or coneflowers are all possibilities.

    Cindy - The flower is Love Lies Bleeding and I'll take some photos in the next week or two. I was planning on doing a walk around all the garden beds and doing posts on each so everyone can see how they are progressing (or not as the case may be!)

    TS - why didn't I think of that?! there's Maltese Cross in other parts of the garden and I didn't even make the connection. The plants are very similar and the seed, if I remember correctly from last year, is similar as well. How exciting! yes, I believe you're right about The Pearl, that seems a popular cultivar and likely what I have. I'm going to have to go ditch diving in the near future to compare my garden plant with the wild Queen Anne's Lace and see if it's a match.

  7. My kids think I'm nuts (and may have a point) but I study every weed I pass and then grab my books and try and figure them out. Makes for very long walks. ;-) One thing I have learned about Queen Anne's Lace - there should be a wee purple dot right in the middle.

  8. Liz - I've learned so much by looking at weeds! Great practice I say. Purple dot? Whenever it finally stops raining here I'm getting outside to take a closer look at that plant

  9. Marguerite, You could turn this into a regular game. Here are my guesses. I agree with TS that the leaves kind of look like Maltese Cross, but the flowers don't fit "red flowers with white centers". I am going to guess Sweet William instead. The seeds of the second mystery don't look like any poppy seeds I have ever seen. They'd be little black specs if they were poppies. I am guessing Galardia instead. The next one looks like Queens Anne's Lace. Then Evening Primrose, Babies Breath and the last one is an utter mystery for which I won't even venture a guess. That was fun! Everyone loves a good mystery.

  10. Marguerite the first plant is sweet william, Dianthus barbatus. it is a biennial so let it go to seed. It can take full sun. The second plant I'm not sure but I know it is not a poppy. The third plant I don't know either. 4th plant looks like evening primrose Oenothera 5th plant looks like Achillea ptarmica. The pearl 6th plant looks really cool! I hope it develops a bit more. :)

  11. Jennifer - Great guesses! I really hadn't thought about the fact that poppy seeds didn't fit with that second plant but it is a fact. Galardia sounds like a pretty good guess to me, hopefully they'll bloom soon and we can really ID them. I really am going to have to go into the ditch to check out the wild Queen Anne's Lace since everyone seems to agree that's what these flowers are.

    Melanie - again great guesses. You guys really know your stuff! I had to do a lot of research and even then some of my guesses seem to have been proven wrong. It will be exciting as these plants put on more growth to see whose guesses were right.

  12. Marguerite,
    Looks like Queen's Anne Lace to me also. That's what my Grandmother always called it and she was 96 and gardened her whole life. My money would be on her.
    It is maddening when you are given plants and you don't want to say NO to items that are free, but I also wish they had a name.
    We have quite a few plants that I haven't really identified as yet.