This collection is made up of hardy annuals…this means they can take some frost and not sulk about it. As a rough guide…here right down in the South West I would be happy to sow toward the end of March…for the rest of England and Wales I would leave it until mid April…and perhaps until May over the border in Scotland.
It is worth noting that being Hardy these seeds can also be sown in September…and conversely the ‘Seeds To Sow In Autumn Collection’ can be sown in early Spring. I have kept the varieties different in each collection should you wish to buy both…here’s hoping.
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*Cornflowers ‘Blue Ball’
*Cornflowers ‘Classic Romantic’
*Calendula ‘Art Shades’
*Nigella ‘Persian Jewels’
*Eschscholzia ‘Ivory Castle’
*Chrysanthemum ‘Rainbow Mix’
*Gypsophila ‘Covent Garden’
*Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’
*Salvia ‘Monarch’ (Painted Sage)
*Dill ‘Mammoth’ (Fantastic for citrus green foliage.)
Nicotiana are best grown as annuals…though they are actually usually short lived biennials that flower best in their first year. They are native to South America and they like to party at night….which is when they release their heady scent…this is because they are pollinated by moths. The flowers come in a range of colours and are usually trumpet shaped…stems can sometimes be slightly sticky and resinous. Nicotiana make sensational cut flowers.
*Nicotiana like a moisture retentive but well drained soil.
*Sow under glass in modules or pots in April…or outside after mid May…but under glass works best in my experience.
*The seeds are REALLY fine….be careful not to sow thickly….some folk mix the seeds with sand to help give an even distribution.
*Harden off plants before planting them about a foot apart after the frosts have trotted off.
*Nicotiana ‘Sensation’ is a great mix…wonderful and cheery fellows…very charming and with a delightful evening scent…I grow a tub and leave outside the kitchen window…I know….I am SO continental. In good conditions these can grow nearly a metre tall.
*Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’…Used carefully ‘Lime Green’ acts as a delightful foil to other flowers in your displays…it’s a very prolific creature and never fails to impress.
*Nicotiana ‘White Trumpets’…the towering surf dudes of the Nicotiana world. These are great at the back of a border and make they very statuesque statements in the vase. (Whatever a statuesque statement is…) These chaps will get to 150 cm tall.
Back in the late 60′s I would sit on the veranda of my Great Aunt Adalwolfa Can-Higgledy’s flat in Berlin and listen to the alien sounds of the Berlin rock scene emanating from her home…she was a session guitarist and lived off Jagermeister sandwiches and funny cigarettes. The only flowers she would have in her garden were Helichrysum…she loved the psychedelic colours in early Autumn.
In her will she left me some seeds of these Helichrysum….she told me she had harvested them from a bunch of flowers that her then lover, Jimi, had picked for her by leaning out of their living room window on the first full moon in September 1970. She told me they contained heavy Ju-Ju and that I was not to share them with the world until the world needed them…and that time my friends…has come.
I am preparing the first batch and Helichrysum ‘Hendrix’ will be ready to take it’s rightful place on the Higgledy Stage by next weekend.
Peace and love y’all.
I tend to keep just one bed in my patch dedicated to perennial flowers because there are only a handful I think justify being there…also like most folk, my space is limited…and per square metre of earth they are not as productive as annuals or biennials. Most annuals will keep producing more flowers as you harvest them over the season whereas perennials may only give you one or two flushes of flowers.
HOWEVER…perennials are easy to maintain and are very reliable and they have forms and structure not available from annuals so they play a part in the flowery portfolio at the Higgledy Garden.
I have always loved Achillea…charming fellow with impeccable manners. Achillea ‘Cerise Queen’ is my favourite for cutting…I may add ‘Summer Pastels’ for next season too. ‘Cerise Queen’ will happily flower in the first year and is easy to grow. (Growing guide).
Aquilegia are a cottage garden favourite…there are hundreds to chose from…my preference is ‘Nora Barlow’…one of the most beautiful and has tall, strong stems…excellent for the vase.
Again like Aquilegia there are hundreds to chose from…I love the quirky, rough around the edges ‘Crazy Daisy’….very easy to use in the vase and heaps and heaps of flowers.
Coreopsis are cheery fellows indeed and ‘Sunray’ is no exception…easy to grow, fun to have about. I know some people don’t like yellow flowers… but…well….I could never get my head around that anyway! Yellow flowers ROCK!
Echinacea are a ‘must have’ in my opinion…not only are they some of the most stunning flowers known to mankind but the Native Americans’ held the flower in great regard too…and what’s good for Sitting Bull is good for Higgledy Ben. I love the vivid ‘Deep Rose Pink’ and the uber groovy ‘Primadonna White’.
Echinops may only produce a few flower heads in their first year…but after that they will romp away like nobody’s business and all will be well with the world…they self seed too so you will have plants to give to your chums. I grow ‘Ritro’…it’s the more quirky…more blue…more ‘spoinky’ one of them all in my opinion.
I have nine Knautia plants spaced at about 18 inches apart…they seem to flower forever. ‘Melton Pastels’ has stunning flowers on willowy stems. It was the first Knautia I grew for cutting and is the only one still present in the flower patch.
Other great perennials to grow in the cutting patch are Feverfew and Eryngium (Sea Holly)….I don’t yet stock Sea Holly but I expect to have some in stock for next year in time for a spring sowing.
Kind regards and have a great Sunday.
For tips on sowing, click over to ‘Sowing hardy annuals directly into the soil’.
Half hardy annuals are the posh totty of the flower patch…glamorous, slinky and beautiful…but take a little more maintenance.
The main point you have to take on board with regard half hardy annuals is that they are generally native to areas that are closer to the equator…they are not big on frost and often the slightest touch of it will send them to their maker. This of course is easy to avoid…either sow them after the frosts or start them indoors and plant them out after the frosts have trotted back off up north.
I prefer to sow my half hardy annuals in pots…three inch square pots are best…it’s harder for slugs to hide in square pots butted up together… I sow the vast majority at the beginning of April…and get them all done and dusted before I move on to sowing hardy annuals outside in the middle of April.
A greenhouse is preferable to a windowsill but you can manage with the later.
Mid May will usually see the last of the frosts in the Midlands…earlier in Cornwall…later in Scotland. Seeds sown in early April will be big enough by mid May to be planted out….but you must get them acclimatised to the perils of the outdoors…well….the cold….they will have been mollycoddled indoors…planting them straight out will freak them out and they will become stunted….this will make you look unprofessional and you could become the laughing stock of the village. Avoid this by leaving the plants outside during the day and bringing them in at night….do this for ten days and your plantlets will be well trained for planting day.
As a rule of thumb I space my half hardy annuals to about a foot apart…perhaps a little less if space is limited.
Rudbeckia never fail to be happy surf dudes…they generally arrive quite late in the season….they are easy to get started and will happily do their thing with little maintenance. For cutting I use Marmalade, Irish Eyes and Goldilocks.
Zinnia are becoming fashionable again….they used to be all the rage in the 50′s…I’m glad folk are growing them once more….they are ‘quirky chic’…Sowing direct into the soil gives good results…but don’t sow before you are SURE the frosts have finished.
Cleome seeds must be sown on the surface…they need light to germinate…make sure you keep them moist whilst they do this….putting the seed tray in a clear poly bag. will help.
Hope you’re all having a capital weekend!