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Bill Larkin’s Seeds

In the summer of 2011, I visited Bill Larkin's garden in Loogootee, Indiana, and saw 30,000 colorful annuals in bloom.

Bill Larkin's annuals

Photo: Bill Larkin

Just some of the annuals found in Bill Larkin's quarter-acre lot!

There were so many flowers in Bill Larkin‘s yard that it dazzled my eyes. Because the garden floods during periods of heavy rain, all of the annual plants on his quarter acre lot are in pots or raised beds. Bill averages about six-and-a-half hours each day with a hose in his hand, as daily watering is needed when plants are in containers in hot weather.

Bill told me that he grows most of his flowering annuals from seed. He collects the small green seed pods from the impatiens in shallow cake pans and then lets them dry out in the sun. Then he puts them in a colander and separates the seeds, almost as small as grains of sand, from the pods and stores them for use the following year.

Sometimes in late summer when his pots of wave petunias are leggy and flowering is waning, he sprinkles some impatiens seeds into the pots with them to provide more flowers in fall.

Petunias also have seed pods that become visible as the plant dies back in late fall. Bill crushes the spent petunia plants back into their pots, lets them overwinter outdoors and waits to see new plants come up in the pots the following spring when the seeds have germinated. He says that he finds zinnias and marigolds are the easiest to grow, as he just cuts off some of their spent flower heads each year and then shreds them to get the seeds to keep until the following spring.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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