I was round at my chum’s boutique flower farm this morning at Roswarther Farm…we were drinking fine Asti Spumanti and celebrating the blossoming of her wonderful cut flower patch. Mari had sown some Scabiosa ‘Crown’ last Autumn and they were doing swimmingly well.
Autumn sown Scabious will flower earlier than spring sown and produce more flowers…but they won’t go on as long into the season….so you may want to make another spring sowing. I myself usually make two sowings of hardy annuals…this helps avoid gluts, booms and busts. Plus it gives my idle little paws something to be doing…
You can direct sow your autumn sown scabious in September…earlier right up north…later right down south in the Costa Del Cornwall. I have a peculiar habit of making a sowing in three inch square pots but instead of germinating them in the greenhouse, I leave them outside…then a few weeks later I plant them exactly where I want them. This is a little more work but it helps bring out the German in me.
Scabiosa ‘Crown’ is a mix of mainly pinks but with a smattering of really dark purple ones and also some pale and whites. Scabiosa ‘Back In Black’ is a much more brooding flower altogether…as the name implies…
Scabious play a part in my ‘Flowers To Sow In Autumn’ collection which has 20% off the collective value and also has free shipping.
For more on Autumn sowing, click over to ‘Best Flowers To Sow In September’.
Karen Wells wrote a great article on Scabiosa a while back…: ‘Scabiosa Vintage Post’
It was my Great Auntie Jezebel Higgledy, the famous Victorian Nazi hunter who first suggested that the family (who had cut flower patches all over the known world) started a more strategic approach to Autumn sowing of annual flowers.
Jezebel informed the Higgledys far and wide that her extensive tests had shown that most Hardy annual flowers will produce flowers up to six weeks earlier than their spring sown counterparts. She also highlighted the fact that these plants were bigger and more resilient to disease.
However, Auntie Jez said that they should not be sown as an alternative to spring sowings but as a compliment to them. The reason for this is that spring sown flowers will continue to blossom much later into the season after the autumn sown have become spent.
Not stopping at that…the determined lady sent telegrams out to the key Higgledys telling them of her twelve preferred hardy annuals for an Autumn sowing. These have become known within the family as ‘Jezebel’s Dirty Dozen’
For clarity I should like to point out for those who don’t know the difference between hardy and half hardy annuals is that half hardy annuals can’t deal with a frost…they are generally plants that hail from warmer climbs nearer the equator. These are best sown after the frosts OR sown undercover and planted out after the frosts. Whereas hardy annuals can take some frost in varying degrees. A biting frost will usually take some casualties… Growers in northern Scotland or on high ground may want to give autumn sowing a miss or overwinter seedlings in a greenhouse.
My own preferred method is to sow in exactly the same way as I make my spring sowings…into beds about three foot wide…into three straight rows a foot apart.
Other folk like to sow into pots and overwinter….I find this a bit faffy but…. whatever is your disco baby.
The plan is that the plant will not produce much top growth but will be busy growing a bountiful root system underground (which is the perfect place for a root system as I’m sure you agree)…then come spring…when the ground starts to warm up…the seedling is ‘charged’ and will rocket forth its flowery self skyward.
When to sow your Autumn seeds is generally dependent on how far north or south your patch is. I spoke to a grower last week who is based on the borders just south of Edinburgh. She sows in the last ten days of August and that works for her…some growers down here in Cornwall leave it until early October. But for the vast majority of folk September is the magic month…
I sow on the 23rd September….the Autumnal equinox…why? Because it sounds cool that’s why.
Jezebel’s Dirty Dozen. (NB This collection is sold as ‘Flowers To Sow In Autumn’ in the Higgledy Seed Shop.
*Calendula ‘Indian Prince’
*Cornflowers. ‘Blue Ball’
*Gypsophila. ‘Covent Garden’
*Nigella. ‘Miss Willmot, Dark Blue’
*Godetia. ‘Crown Mix’
*Larkspur. ‘Giant Imperials’
*Eschscholzia. Californian Poppy. ‘Orange King’
*Scabiosa, ‘Back In Black’
Other great alternatives to Jezebel’s choices are…
*Calendula ‘Art Shades’
*Cornflowers. ‘Black Ball’ & ‘Classic Romantic’
*Nigella ‘Persian Jewels’
*Nigella. ‘Miss Willmot, Dark Blue’
*Eschscholzia. Californian Poppy. ‘Ivory Castle’
PS For detailed growing guides then please click: ‘Higgledy Seed Growing Guides’.
The answer to ‘can I sow Cornflowers in Autumn?’ is a pretty resounding yes, unless you live in the Baltic far north.
I tend to sow two batches of cornflower seeds, one in September and one in April. The autumn sown seeds will make much bigger plants that will flower earlier in the year….and the spring sown ones will produce smaller plants but that will flower much later into the season.
Cornflowers are always loved by those who grow them for the first time and they are super easy to grow from seed.
*Either sow in pots or sow directly outside where you want them to flower.
*I sow in three straight lines a foot apart.
*Don’t bury the seeds too deep…just give them a light covering.
*Make sure the bed is weed free.
*Don’t fertilise the bed…Cornflowers, like most annuals are happy in poor soils.
*If you are making an autumn sowing then don’t thin out your seedlings until the spring…and thin them to about a foot apart.
*Once they start flowering….then keep on pickin’ ‘em…if you let them ‘go over’…they will stop producing flowers.
Naturally you lucky people can buy these wonderful seeds in the Higgledy Garden Shop and you will also find a might ‘Seeds to sow in Autumn Collection’ which is well worth a gander. Sowing hardy annuals seeds in autumn is well worth it…earlier flowers the following spring are nothing short of a joy.
I hope you are all having a swimmingly good weekend.
…OHHHHHHH….let’s have one more photo.
Thank you for sending your photos to Twitter for the July photo competition. The lovely Emma Mitchell has kindly agreed to be the judge.
These are just a few that had lots of ’favourites’ from the Twitter community…and this is not a short list.
This is just a taster of course…I think I have had eighteen gazillion and thirty seven photos sent in and I will showcase some more later in the week.
Many thanks for taking the time to send them.
If you are lucky enough to live somewhere where Foxgloves grow wild as they do very well down here in Cornwall and many parts of the UK, you will see that by this time of year most of the flowers have turned to seed pods. The lower seed pods will have started to deteriorate and so will be dropping their seed.
Great Grand-mama Florence Higgledy, the famous Edwardian stripper and cut flower gardener suggested sowing Foxglove seed when the last few flowers at the top of wild Foxgloves were in bloom.
Effectively this suggests to me that June and July are the best months for sowing.
One thing to bear in mind when sowing Foxglove seed is like most super fine seeds they are best pressed into the surface of prewatered seed compost…and NOT covered as they need light to germinate.
I prefer to sow mine in three inch square pots…sowing REALLY thinly….then after a couple of weeks when they start to germinate I take out all but the healthiest seedling and let her get on with it.
If you want more plants and have more patience than myself you can sprinkle seeds (from a height) onto a seed tray and prick out seedlings in four weeks…just don’t handle the stem…hold them gently by a leaf.
I then plant out at the beginning of September.
Another to remember is that they will very happily germinate outdoors…so no need to put the seed trays in a greenhouse or windowsill as you may cook them.
I spaced mine to a foot apart last year and they were great for the vase but most folk space them further apart 18-24 inches…this makes much bigger/taller plants.
In the vase try adding something which is in contrast to the spires…I love using the domes of Ammi Visnaga if it is flowering in time…best do an autumn sowing to arrange this meeting of blooms.
A nice man I know sells a collection of all of these which includes free shipping…and if you order them today (Sunday 6th) he will throw in some Cornflower ‘Black Ball’ which can be sown in September…‘Nice man’s seed collection’.
The best Foxgloves for cutting are ‘Excelsior’(presently only available in the ‘biennial collection; see above link) and ‘Alba’...in my not so humble opinion.