Ammi Visnaga is the less well known, chunky sister of Ammi Majus. Clusters of dense white flowers make up very defined domes…about the size of an hemisphere of a cricket ball…perhaps a fraction bigger. They have a architectural majesty of their own…very striking in the flower patch…very striking in the vase. They make the perfect foliage filler and will set off almost any other flower you wish to show with them.
Ammi visnaga seeds are best sown direct into the soil…as are (Ammi Majus seeeds)…I sow mine in straight drills about a foot apart. The seeds only need to be very lightly covered. Keep the bed lightly watered. Seeds should germinate within three weeks.
Thin your seedlings out to about a foot apart…don’t try and transplant the excess…it’s futile…they will keel over. You get heaps of seeds in a packet…you will have plenty…perhaps save some for an autumn sowing as they are hardy annuals.
For a guide on direct sowing try: ‘Sowing Hardy Annuals Directly Into The Soil’
I sell Ammi visnaga seeds at £1.95 for 500ish.
I wish more folk would get into growing Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’…it’s easy to grow from seed and it breaks hearts at forty yards. It was my Great Great (and some) Uncle Davye Fillius Higgledy, the famous Elizabethan Lute player and smooth jazz flautist, who first grew ‘Vulcan’ to wear in his hair during gigs at the new and trendy Globe Theatre. A large wreath of ‘Vulcan’ was placed on his grave after he came to an abrupt end when a complex disco manoeuvre involving his flute and a dancing bear went terribly wrong.
Malope trifida is becoming slowing popular again and it perhaps will return to being a cut flower patch great. Its magenta petals have a silky vibe about them and they are set off by a lime green star in the centre….lip smacking gorgeous….which reminds me…the petals are edible too…..drop them into a salad and your guests will go toffee eyed and dream of one day being just a little bit like you.
*You can direct sow straight into the soil outside after the frosts have done their worst….about mid May. Thin your seedlings to about a foot and a half apart.
*Or sow some earlier in modules or pots….I sow some at the beginning of April….then plant them out six weeks later.
*Only lightly cover the seed…don’t sow too deep.
*They like lots of sunshine.
*You can easily harvest the seed but that would mean you wouldn’t come back to me for some more….so don’t do that.
Malope are super easy to grow from seed and will work really hard for you producing buckets of flowers all summer long…I don’t know why they are not grown more often…so go forth and Vulcinate dear chums!
I of course sell Malope ‘Vulcan’…£1.95 for 70ish seeds.
I spied some Helichrysum ‘Copperhead’ in the front garden of a Cornish village late last summer…sadly my photos looked like had been taken by a disinterested dolphin. This will be my first season of growing it for myself…I usually put off adding new varieties into the shop until I have grown them…but I am confident that this creature will be a great performer.
Helichrysum is a no fuss plant…either sow up in pots at the beginning of April or start them outside in mid April…they can take a light frost. They are at their most contented in a sunny position and should flower about twelve weeks from a spring sowing.
I haven’t tried sowing Helichrysum in Autumn but I suspect unless you live in the freezing Hinterland you should be ok. My packets have roughly 250 seeds in…this is loads…so hold some seed back for spring.
‘Copperhead’ will keep flowering well into the Autumn…and it’s colour blends perfectly with the season. Helichrysum are created almost ‘ready dried’ and will last all winter. I hang a large bunch upside down in the kitchen and visitors make a mental note to themselves that I am a chap of exquisite taste.
*Beds are much easier to weed and maintain if you can get to the centre from each side. One metre wide is about right.
*I don’t double dig my beds…I’m far too old and lazy. I dig my beds to the depth of a garden fork and then bash the soil with the back of the fork to break it down…finally raking it to a fine a tilth. This process is always full of the promise of great things to come…I love it.
*If you have heavy clay then the best thing you can do is move house….or you can add heaps of organic material…home made compost is fantastic for this….don’t add too much manure or your plants will produce plenty of green growth but few flowers. Another option is raised beds. ….add some grit too…this will help with drainage.
*If your soil is wet then leave the digging until it dries out…otherwise you could damage the soil structure and make a hoofing great mess…stay inside and make a nice cup of tea…watch Bargain Hunt on the telly.
*If you sow your seeds in cold wet soil they will not germinate. There is little to be gained from sowing until the soil warms to about 7 degrees…for most of the UK this is around mid April.
*If you prepare your beds a couple of weeks before you sow them up you can allow the first flush of weeds to come through….these can easily be hoed off…this will make your life much more wonderful than it otherwise would have been.
*In a metre wide bed I sow three rows. I first take a taught piece of string down the centre of the bed and score a VERY shallow drill with a stick. Then a water the drill BEFORE I sow the seeds. Thirdly I sow seeds thinly in the drill and cover the drill LIGHTLY with soil… Then either side of that row I measure a foot apart and do exactly the same…ending up with three rows.
*The paths between the rows in the new lotty plot are 50 cm…in fact they have been made from metre wide weed fabric folded in two. (I may replace these at a later date as they look ugly as sin) If you have grass paths…make them the at least the width of your mower blades.
*Keep the beds gently watered…germination will take a couple of weeks for most annuals….some seeds may take much longer. Having sown in straight drills you will easily be able to see what is a weed and what is not. Keep on top of the weeding…weeds WILL arrive…I weed little and often.
*Once your seedlings are a few inches high you can add a mulch this will greatly assist you in keeping the weeds down and will also keep moisture in the bed.
Of all the above tips…not sowing too early is the most important…I have no desire to sell you seeds that then are left to rot in cold wet ground….and you being left bereft of flowers and getting all moody.
PS Please visit my shop and buy some flower seeds. (Hard sell.)
Scabiosa is a blinder of a cut flower…it may not have the RHS plant of merit award but it certainly gets the Higgledy Garden ‘Right Little Cracker’ award. I know grow three varieties which I have found to be both reliable and gorgeous. ‘Scabiosa ‘Crown’, ‘Back In Black’ & ‘Ping Pong’
I shall be making an Autumn sowing of Scabiosa as well as a spring sowing…this will give me bigger, stronger plants that will flower earlier on in the season…then sow some more seeds next spring and I will be blessed with a long and fruity flowering season….(well…perhaps not ‘fruity’)
*Although you can direct sow seeds into the soil from mid April…I tend to sow in modules, undercover from early April…then plant out the seedlings six weeks later making sure there are no frosts around the corner…if so just wait…despite being hardy they won’t be impressed from going from the windowsill or greenhouse into a freezer.
*Acclimatise your seedlings before planting them out…I leave both doors of my garden tunnel open for a couple of weeks and this seems to do it….or you can take your trays outside during the day and bring them in at night.
*Space plants to a foot apart….this will give you oodles of nice clear space into which you can hoe off all the pesky weeds that will arrive to spoil your summer.
* Keep picking your Scabious flowers and they will keep producing flowers for you…for months…oh yes indeed…our Scabiosa friend is a generous one.
*Scabiosa flowers can be perhaps too flouncy on their own so I suggest adding some Nicotiana ‘Lime Green‘ to your arrangements…this will calm things down…and perhaps add something with a ‘spire’ vibe going on…Larkspur ‘Imperials’ are always pretty good at playing the part….also I am utilising the silky skills of Salvia viridis ‘Blue Monday’ with my Scabiosa…this completes the country cottage style rather well.
*Scabiosa are a Mecca for bees and other pollinators…so if you are planning a cut flower garden with bees in mind…don’t miss this one. NB See my ‘Bee Friendly’ Collection if you are up for wildlife flowers…yes…the collection that The Guardian keep raving about.
I sell my Scabiosa ‘Crown’ at £1.95 for 40ish seeds.
…well….ok….it gets its rather unattractive name from the fact that it used to be used by our ancestors to treat sores…especially in the time of the plague…however only the healers of the time would pick the flower as it was believed that if anyone else did…the Devil would appear at their beds at night. …you have been warned….
Scabiosa is certainly one to try in your cut flower patch…it’s easy…reliable…and very very beautiful.
Have fun one and all.