I know there’s still a lot of winter yet to come. Some of the biggest snowstorms of the year have often occurred this month. Still, we know that spring is coming. We’re starting to have longer days and bright, clear blue skies. Tree buds are swelling; snow is melting; and gardeners are putting their hands in the dirt. It’s seed-starting time! This month I’ll be starting all the plants I mention in this article. Excitement!
I start most of my vegetables from seed so I can get the varieties I want – many not carried in my local garden centers. The first time I saw kale growing in an ornamental garden was on a vacation to Canada. The dark, ruffled foliage was a stark contrast to the plants around it. I make sure to add it to my flower gardens every year. It’s surprising how many people ask about it. Another frilly-leafed plant I include in my vegetable garden as well as my flowerbeds is lettuce. The new, colorful lettuce leaves available in the last few years are beautiful. They add a touch of drama to the garden as well as my salads.

Ruffled burgunday kale leaves get attention

Colorful, frilly lettuce leaves

Through the years I’ve started many perennials from seed. For the price of one plant at the garden center, I can get a big pack of seeds and have possibly hundreds of plants! The only catch is that I may have to wait a year before the plant is big enough to produce flowers. Gardeners are known for their patience! I started the Rudbeckia Goldsturm in my garden from seeds about fifteen years ago. At this point, it happily volunteers throughout the garden.
I’ve had a love affair with hollyhocks since I was a kid. My mother grew them in a protected location in the back of the house near the clothesline. The patch was impressive and really should have had center stage in the front yard for all to see. Everyone who ventured into the back yard were stunned by the size and beauty of these simple, old-fashioned flowers.

Rudbeckia Goldsturm lights up the garden

Hollyhocks bring back memories of Mom's garden

I love foxgloves for nostalgic reasons too. When I was a child, I remember reading fairytales where illustrations often featured foxgloves. There was something magical about that plant. I’ve been growing foxgloves in every garden I’ve ever had. Once established, they’ll drop seeds and volunteer in just the right places – a sign of a mature garden.
Datura is another plant I like to start from seed each year. It’s large leaves and hanging flowers give it a tropical look. Wonderful fragrance perfumes the air as soon as it starts blooming. I plant it next to my back deck where we often relax in the evening. Heavenly!

Foxglove flowers are dangling pink bells

Datura perfumes the air