Mixed Packets of Seeds
I have always loved sowing mixed packets of seeds, they are a bit like lucky bags for gardeners. You sow them in a tray and wait to see what appears. It is probably what got me started running a nursery. Not only do you watch in wonder as shoots push up through the soil, but you haven't a clue what they are. I remember a bargain packet of tree seeds that I grew. I never worked out what I had got!
There is always at the back of your mind the thought that you might get something really special to grow. This is what drives the plant breeders on when they hybridise new varieties. They are a bit like prospectors hoping to find gold and strike it rich.
Of course the seed companies love them as they put anything that they can not sell, or have mixed up the labels, in a packet and sell it as a mixed pack. But to be fair to the seed companies they do put a few specials in the mix to make it interesting for us.
I am not sure that the original traditional cottage garden that people strive to perfect was not just someone sprinkling round the garden a mixture of all the seeds that they had collected in previous years.
It's what happens in nature really, seeds are spread over the ground by various means, and start to grow. If the spot suits them they thrive, reproduce and increase, if the environment is not so good they are not successful, so everything finds the right place. I believe some chap called Darwin had a theory about this. Sadly we have the temerity to call native species 'weeds' just because we don't want them there.
The children's mixed packs are a good way to get them interested in nature and they usually contain lots of easy things to grow. There is nothing like success to gain their interest.