I have 30 ‘Bee Friendly’ seed collections left from this season….there are only a couple of weeks left to sow them to ensure that they will flower this summer. I like to start the new season with fresh seeds so shall let these go at £5 instead of the usual £10….and that is 10 packets of top quality seeds!
Buy two sets of the seeds and I will send them without any shipping costs. This offer will end at Friday teatime…(24th May)
Have a great weekend.
Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’ Seedlings are doing well this year…though they had a slow start. Despite being one of the more common annual Rudbeckias, they are to my mind the best. Sure, I love the quirky green centred ‘Rudbeckias like ‘Irish Eyes’…but few plants in the cut flower garden have the same warmth that ‘Marmalade’ has…and its tall and strong stems make it an absolute diamond as a cut…lasts yonks in the vase too.
‘Marmalade’ is at the peak of its career in the autumn, when its daisy like golden blooms shine out as the leaves on the trees start to lose their enthusiasm for the sun. I bill Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’ as an annual…but in a mild winter you will find some plants will make it through and flower the following year. I shall try some in pots in polytunnel and see how they fair next spring as an experiment.
Often folk use the common name ‘Black Eyed Susan’ when referring to Rudbeckias…I think my Gran did….but then I think she referred to half the plants in the garden as ‘Black Eyed Susan’…
Rudbeckias are native to north America where they hang out in light woodland and moist meadows…so they can handle a bit of shade…but not too much. Unlike most annuals they seem to like a moderately fertile soil…so a little muck dug it won’t do them any harm. I tend to mix my cut flower beds up…so all plants get them same soil type, like it or lump it…they seem to go for the ‘like’ option.
*Sow seed THINLY in modular cells filled with a good quality compost.
*Do NOT cover the seed…they need light to germinate and therefore sow them on the surface.
*Keep the compost moist for the duration of the germination.
*You will most likely get lots of tiny seedlings in each module…instead of pricking these out and potting them on, I tend to just take out all but one…chuck the others away. Say for instance you are left with 15 seedlings….that is still lots of plant and will take up a good deal of space in your cut flower patch
*Don’t plant out your seedlings until the seedlings are a few inches tall…from an early April sowing this will be towards the end of May
*Space Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’ to about a foot between plants.
Yes…Rudbeckia can be a little fiddly to get started…but later on in the season when you are rewarded with buckets and buckets of flowers you will feel that it was all worth while and you can trot around looking all smug when the neighbours come round.
In the vase Rudbeckia look amazing with ‘Larkspur‘, which will give the vase some ‘spire action’ and I like to throw in some Ammi Visnaga too…this will soften everything up and make it more flouncy…alternatively try some Cornflower ‘Blue Ball‘ to contrast the flower colour…this look is more ‘funky art school chic’.
Do give growing these beauties a go…they are included in the ‘Complete Cut Flower Collection 2013‘ and I am sure I will add them to next years collection too…I would never be without them in my own cut flower gardens.
Long live the ‘Marmalade’!.
I sell Rudbeckia ‘Marmalde’ at £1.95 for 500ish seeds.
Have fun one and all.
PS…if you want some more tips then click on ‘Germinating Rudbeckia, Top Tips’.
White Larkspur was Ben’s Great Auntie Macassar’s most favourite annual cut flower. She had a long, thin garden and would line the edge of her winding path (that wound all the way down to the River Shonk) with the bright spires.
One moonful night, a light aircraft mistook Auntie M’s planting for a runway… that was the first time her Consolida ambigua had been cut by an aileron. She instantly forgave the dashing and ruggedly handsome pilot, Scotty…. they spent one balmy evening under his silken parachute learning all about aviation & new seed sowing techniques. Some say this is where Mr Higgledy gets his love of Biggles books… and his middle name.
Seen above with Bell’s of Ireland, Fennel, Dill and Cosmos ‘Purity’, I’m sure you’ll agree Auntie Macassar was right about white Larkspur? Interestingly though, after that illuminating night, as though suffused with adventure, she switched her allegiance to Larkspur ‘Giant Imperial Mix’ and edged her winding path (that wound all the way down to the River Shonk) with colourful spires.
Growing Larkspur from seed couldn’t be easier. When I lived in Poppy Cottage, Fittlesword – I simple scattered a couple of packets in her borders and they throoped away with little attention. But there’s nothing like being a professional gardener growing cut flowers for other people that seems to focus the mind.
I sowed some Larkspur ‘Giant Imperial Mix’ underglass early April, pricked them out, potted them on and planted them in the cut flower patch two weeks ago.
This week, right next to the Larkspur’lings I sowed some seeds… let the research begin. Which method produces bushier specimens with more flowers?
Here’s Mr Higgledy’s guide to sowing Larkspur from seed, written I believe under a parachute, with a torch and Figrolls.
Tall, blowzy, frowzy and tousled – Larkspur definitely has her top two buttons undone and red bra strap showing.
Complete with her loose, fanciful foliage, she’s great for lofty drama.
Cut her stems at an angle, increases the surface area for water uptake and thus her misspent vase life.
Grown in the Original Higgledy Garden circa 2012, not even I, with my lexicon of flower colours can describe the Larkspur seen left, the one that isn’t purply-blue.
I’m still in love with my petite Larkspur, Ammi majus and Sanguisorba threesome of last year… hubba hubba
Larkspur flowers, illustrated here with a rather sumptuous photograph of a stem in bud, have spur’ry calyces (yes Ben, the plural of calyx, now finish your jigsaw).
Along with Delphinium, Larkspur is part of the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, native to Asia, the Med and W Europe – coincidently all places I like Mr H to send me packing to on a Higgledy plant hunt.
Like Auntie Maccasar, I have spent some time under a parachute, draped over trees… with a mushroom expert, a small fire and a frying pan. So it’s no surprise the swanky purple, lavished with opulant delft blue, Larkspur is my weakness… *wobbles
Le Samedi fille
Great Uncle Hercules Twinkleton-Higgledy was shot down by the Red Baron whilst attempting a daring raid on a Jerry ammo depot in a de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito disguised as an ice cream van. He parachuted to safety, landing in the walled cut flower garden belonging to the glamourous Magdalena Von Hammerstein II.
She found him bruised and bleeding amongst the Rudbeckia and the pair instantly fell deeply and madly in love…she hid him for the remainder of the war and they grew flowers together and sang songs about brown paper parcels and string.
Hercules always maintained that the bright yellow of the rudbeckia had been his guide to safety on the perilous descent and when he returned to England with his beautiful bride he brought the seeds of the very same Rudbeckia he had landed on…’Irish Eyes…and it is the direct descendants of Magdalena’s seeds that we grow in the Higgledy Garden today.
God bless you Hercules!
My seedlings have taken a while to get going this year…April was pretty chilly though..they are fine now…and it won’t be long before I plant them out.
*I always sow my Rudbeckia undercover…in a coldframe…on a windowsill…in a greenhouse…or all three.
*It makes life much easier if you sow in modules…in previous years I have always sown in modules with 15 cells (per standard seed tray size) but this year I threw caution to the wind and have sowed some in 40 cell trays…I know how to live.
*Only cover the seeds super lightly with your compost…or use a sprinkling of vermiculite if you are organised enough to have some.
*Nearly always you/I will sow too many seeds…they are tiny and the urge to sprinkle too heavily is irresistible…but you MUST thin these out to one seedling per cell.
*After about six weeks…and after the frosts have finished being boring and have naffed off back up to Lapland, then your seedlings can be planted outside.
*Make sure they are planted in full sun.
*I plant mine to a foot…or perhaps a little more apart.
*Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes’ are fairly drought tolerant but they will need water whilst they are getting established.
*By cutting the blooms for the vase she will produce more flowers…we like this sort of behavior.
*If we have a VERY mild winter the plants may survive for another season…I am going to try fleecing a square metre of them this year as an experiment. (*geek.)
‘Irish Eyes’ is an outstanding cut flower…and with just a little effort you can have a good amount of plants that will provide lashings of flowers from mid summer through until the frosts.
Top Rudbeckia trivia: Rudbeckia was named after the Swedish botanist Olaf Rudbeck…his life work was a series of awesome plant drawings…which all got burnt in a warehouse fire whilst poor old Olaf was still alive to see his achievements destroyed…Olaf is a hero of the Higgledy Garden…he would have got on well with Hercules I’m sure…
Try growing and showing ‘Irish Eyes’ with Dill ‘Mammoth‘ (For some height interest)…and something citrus green to compliment the heat of the yellow/orange…Bupleurum would be good…or Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’…also use Blue flowers as an opposite…for some contrast…’Blue Ball’ cornflowers will rock with Rudbeckia…
Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’ is a twining annual with heart-shaped leaves and funnel-shaped, sky-blue flowers up to 3 inches across, with delicate white throats. Happily this drop dead gorgeous plant is easily raised from seed.
Now…you may be thinking…how on earth can a climber like this be used in the cut flower garden?…and you would be quite right…the answer is tenuous. I can say that the flowers can be utilised by floating them in a bowl of water…which they can…and they look mighty fine…but the truth of the matter is that Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’ is one of my favourite annuals of all time…and this is my site…my shop…so it’s going in!
Native to Central America our climbing friend likes her sunshine…and loathes a cold wind….so it is a MUST that she is homed in a warm and sheltered position.
*I sow the seeds in April/May. Either in fibre pots (preferable) or individual modules or pots…Ipomoea hates root disturbance…even when quite small.
*Sow seeds to about three times their width (as with most seeds) in good quality seed compost or sieved homemade compost.
*Seedlings must not be planted out until all threat of frost has passed.
*Space the seedlings to about 10cm apart against a trellis or next to canes etc.
*They need a soil that has good drainage…clay isn’t their favourite stomping ground.
*Despite need ing good drainage, you should ensure the ground they are in doesn’t dry out too much…keep it moist when possible.
*Dead head the spent flowers and she will keep flowering all summer long…from July until October.
*In the right conditions the plant can reach three metres.
I am experimenting this year by trying to grow them up Sunflower ‘Earthwalkers’ and also up Ricinus ‘Impala‘…I think the bright blue will look great against the bronze foliage of Ricinus…and…nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I sell Ipomoea ‘Heavenly Blue’ seeds at £1.95 for 75ish seeds.