Gifts and Guests

As much as anything, what I love about gardening are the nice surprises — what I call the “Gifts” and “Guests.”

The gifts come from seeds that I didn’t intentionally plant.  Since I use open-pollinated seeds, and I save my own seeds from year to year, I’m always allowing a few plants to reach the stage where they can set their own seeds.  Invariably, a few of the vegetables don’t get harvested and wind up composting on the ground.  When I work the ground to plant the following Spring, those seeds get disbursed around the garden.

For instance, below, in yellow, is what I intentionally planted in this bed.  The tomato plants, circled in blue, were gifts that sprouted from last year’s tomatoes that fell to the ground and decomposed.  I’m especially happy about these gifts because I didn’t have enough time to start many tomato seedlings for this year.  I’ve transplanted these tomato plants to another bed, where they’ll have room to grow.


My guests are plants that found their way into my garden all on their own.  While most people consider these “guests” to be weeds,  I am just as happy to have these as I am the gifts.


Since I’m also interested in wild edibles and have been trying to teach Cait how to recognize and collect them, it helps to have specimens growing right in my garden.

These guests have found their way into my herb bed. While the clover is edible and makes a very refreshing tea, I purposefully leave a few of these plants around my garden to attract bees. And the wood sorrel and plantain add a little extra zip to salads.

If you think you might like to try adding some wild edibles to your diet, this site, Foraging Pictures/ Edible Plants, is an easy, safe way to get started.

10 thoughts on “Gifts and Guests”

  1. Michelle O'Neil

    Love the concept of guests and gifts!

    I inherited a pretty little flower bed when we moved into this house. I have no idea what anything is, other than the obvious tulips, roses, etc.

    Is it a weed? Is it a bush? I fretted over it but then just asked myself, “Do I like it?” If not, it got yanked.

    I’ve never gardened before but I’m just now starting to get the hint of maybe quite possibly liking it.

  2. We have a mint of some variety growing wild between our fence and the grill.. not sure where it came from! Until I know exactly what it is though, there it stays.

    1. Oh, wild mint! Another one of my favorites. We have lots of it growing along our roadside.

      I should also mention for anyone who doesn’t know, mint is an invasive plant to grow in a garden. It will eventually take over everything, so it’s best to grow it in it’s own little spot outside the garden. I have mine growing along my back fence.

  3. I would love to, sometime soon, I promise! Thank you for writing such timely posts, they always resonate with wise and witty truth and make me feel the kindred bond that we all share here on your blog!

  4. My loveliest and most unexpected gifts in the garden have been sunflowers! Oh how they make me smile! Since our bird feeders are placed in the trees throughout the gardens, the birdies have taken to spreading the sunflower seeds quite efficiently these last few years. It’s always a joyful surprise to see where they will come up. The most delightful appearance this year is right smack in the middle of my backdoor herb garden. My little girl gets her picture taken each week with it as it shoots up, until one day in August it will tower above her. I can’t wait till that day when she’ll look up into it’s sweet, lazy face bending down towards her and make her smile…..that will be the winning picture!

  5. one year, the gift I (and the neighborhood) were blessed with was PUMPKINS! In the front yard no less. I had been trying to kill the grass because I had too many orphan plants being deposited on the front steps. I used newspaper to kill the grass and pumpkins to weigh down the newspaper….and had the most lovely and gigantic pumpkin vine with 3 respectable fruits that year. That sucker grew and grew and grew…and everyone checked on it to make sure no little hooligans stole the fruit.

    it was fun.

    1. Ahh… Pumpkins. My all time favorite thing to grow. Actually I have a few of those gifts growing along with my grape vines. It’s great, isn’t it!

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