Between my small Toronto gardens and my large but treed woodland cottage garden, the idea of starting from seeds rather than purchasing plants never appealed to me. The idea of having shelves and lights inside and having to harden plants before getting them outside seems like more work than I will have time for, until I retire.
Now I have massive (for me) weed-free (for now) garden beds just begging to be planted. So I have begun researching what perennials I can direct sow here in zone 3.
Here is what I have found so far:
Foxglove is something I have always wanted to grow. I planted it once at the cottage with no success which I attribute to not enough light and so I tried again last year but we moved at the end of July and so I do not know how they finished up the year. I will not deadhead them and hope that they spread like crazy!
Poppies are another plant that I have always wanted to grow but never had the right conditions. This excellent article on poppy growing gives me hope that I should be able to direct sow with success. I would have liked Himalayan Blue Poppies but apparently they prefer cool summers. I will try Oriental and California poppies instead.
Sunflowers, another plant I have not had enough sun to grow and am eager to try. There are so many gorgeous varieties, including lots with tints of red which I will go for to keep things a little bit different and interesting. I will experiment with varying heights since they come in sizes from 2' to 12' or more!
Rudbeckia on the other hand I have grown before, having transplanted hundreds from the roadside at the Ontario cottage. With that said I will be trying out new varieties like "Cherry Brandy" (above) and "Autumn Colours" (below).
They should be sown at around 14 degrees Celsius and I will probably plant them near the poppies so they fill the gaps the poppies leave behind later in the season.
Scabiosa are on my list and should also flower in their first year. Most often in shades of bluey/purpley, I just found this red variety I might try as well.
Echinacea is a must have though I do not expect them to bloom in the first year. Luckily I already bought "Hot Lava" and "Secret Desire" last year to get me off to a blooming start next year.
I am sure there are more (e.g. flax!), but I will have to leave them for another day.