It’s seed week. I’m planting flower seeds in my garden. And thousands, if not millions, of maple and Siberian elm seeds are spreading around the neighborhood with every puff of wind. There are the seeds I want (flowers) and the seeds I don’t want (tree sprouts).
I planted cosmos, bachelor buttons, and dwarf sunflowers in my back yard. I am trying cosmos and bachelor buttons mixed into the poppy patch, for midsummer when the poppies die back and leave a blank spot. Plus I squeezed cosmos and dwarf sunflowers in a few other spots. Cosmos are my favorite annual from seeds – so easy to grow and hardy, even though they look delicate.
The wind planted tree seeds everywhere. When the tree sprouts are little they are easy to pull out – although annoying since there are so many! Sometimes they fall into an area of the garden with shrubs and I don’t see them the first year or two, when they are small. Then all of a sudden a wild tree shoot is growing three feet high among the Barberry or Oregon Grape. These older shoots are harder to get out, and require a shovel, not just a tug.
I have to admit that some tree shoots in the midst of a large patch of Oregon Grape (which has prickly, holly-like leaves) have taken up residence since I don’t want to stand in the prickles and dig. I chop off the tops and pretend the roots aren’t there.
Trees in nature are generous with their seeds – throwing them about freely, hoping a few germinate and continue the cycle of growth and decay.
This morning as I was planting I was thinking about the difference of how nature spreads seeds and how I carefully place seeds in my garden. Sure, I plant a few more than I expect to germinate and grow, but not exponentially more.
Nature is extravagant with seed-planting, spreading seeds on the wind. Some end up in driveways, roads, sidewalks, rocks, grass – and a few in open soil.
I spread seeds in particular spots, sparingly, where I have loosened the soil, added some compost, and expect them to grow.
Neither seed-spreading strategy is wrong, but they are based on different assumptions. Trees are designed to spread thousands of seeds each year, because the odds of any one seed surviving for many years to create a mature tree are low. I plant seeds expecting a fairly high success rate, so I don’t plant as extravagantly.
I plant expecting to get something back.
What if I planted, or did any other activity, more recklessly, regardless of the results. Would I sow love more widely, if I didn’t have to receive love back where I planted? Would I spread kindness to more, even those who will never grow back kindness toward me? Am I seeding freely and wildly with a generous spirit, or am I carefully doling out according to plan? Something to think about in the coming weeks, as I pull tree sprouts out of my garden. Sprouts that were planted lavishly, not expecting all to produce.