Some of the plants in our garden grow exactly where we want them to, for instance those that we plant into pots.

Pots on the patio in summer 2014 (photo by Hubert Steed)

However, others grow best (or even only) where they want to. We call them volunteers. The most reliable volunteers are hollyhocks and the annual delphinium Consolida ajacis. Both self-seed readily. Hollyhock seedlings seem to prefer narrow cracks and the poorest soil. This is how these plants appears right at the fence or in the path. What conditions the delphiniums like is still a mystery. A small plant appeared last year in the part-shade under our apple tree. This year, an entire family of delphiniums germinated there.

Annual delphiniums Consolida ajacis and hollyhocks, here peeking through the fence, are reliable volunteers (photo on the right by Hubert Steed).

Some of our volunteers choose dangerous spots. A pretty sunflower grew outside of the fence. Soon after its flower opened, some passerby picked it; apparently, the temptation was just too great. Growing between the gravel of the main path is not especially safe either. A little petunia tries this right now. It is still doing fine, but someone may step on it any day.

A sunflower dared to grow on the outside of the garden.

The volunteer petunia in the path

A fertile (pun intended) source of many volunteers is compost. Tomato and pepper seeds, as well as seeds of melons and pumpkins survive the composting process mostly unharmed. Thus, we will find seedlings of these plants soon after we spread compost into our flower beds and pots.

A tomato came up in a planter on the patio. The plant on the left appeared “suddenly”. We don’t know whether it is a melon or a pumpkin. We decided to let it grow to find out.

Talking about volunteers: We are also looking for volunteer gardeners who can help us with some of the work in the garden!