Sweet Peas In Containers.

peatfree

Being that Storm ‘Pasty’ is busy flooding Cornwall…I have moved indoors to sow up a couple of buckets of Sweet Peas. I had a few buckets of them last season in my ‘Bucket Garden’ and they did really rather well.

The World Famous Higgledy Garden Sweet Pea Collection! (20% discount. Free P&P)

This year I have used New Horizon Peat Free compost…it has a great texture and is loads better than it used to be several years ago. I have also sown up a bucket using Levington general purpose (with contains some peat)..in order that (hopefully) I can demonstrate that you don’t need peat in your compost…for sweet peas at least.

sweetpeas

If you are up to date with the goings on here at Higgledy HQ you will know I sowed up some Sweet Peas in January too…in Pringle tubes…they are coming along…I can just plant/bury these where I want them in a few weeks time…use them in buckets….or even give them to the girl I fancy, who works in the veg shop on a Thursday.

Sweet Pea 'Charlies'...grown in buckets...here getting cosy with some Orlaya
Sweet Pea ‘Charlies’…grown in buckets…here getting cosy with some Orlaya

With regard to ‘pinching out’ Sweet Peas…I pinch out about half of my plants above the second set of leaves…and I won’t do this for another couple of weeks. The pinched ones become fuller…but the unpinched ones trail further (I trail mine over a wall)

The Buckets Garden last year
The Bucket Garden last year

I haven’t kept these Pringle babies in a coldframe…I’ve just had them in a bucket by the shed…it’s been mild…if it were to get frosty I would bring them in for the night and let them sleep next to the dog.

I hope you have a great weekend.

Kind regards

Benajmin Higgledy.

PS Don’t forget to go and spend your wages in the seed shop. :)

 

Scabiosa stellata ‘Ping Pong’ From Seed.

scabiosa-ping-pong

 

Higgledy Flower School 2016. #31. Scabiosa stellata ‘Ping Pong’.

Scabiosa ‘Ping Pong’ is back! I stopped stocking it for a time as it was tremendously challenging to get my mitts on top quality stock. However…seek and ye shall find… ‘Ping Pong’ is usually grown for its splendid flower heads. The spherical seed heads are a silvery colour similar (in colour, not shape) to the seed heads of  Honesty (Lunaria). The flowers themselves are, to my mind, very underrated…they are a faded denim blue and the bees love hanging out on them.

Scabiosa Ping Pong Seedlings
Scabiosa Ping Pong Seedlings

Scabiosa ‘Ping Pong’ is a hardy annual and as such can be sown in late summer/early autumn or in spring. I tend to sow in pots from the beginning of April but you could sow outside, direct where you wish them to grow from mid April.

As always the ground should be free from weeds and be free draining….thin plants to about a foot apart.

Groovy Seed Heads.
Groovy Seed Heads.

Thus far my photos of ‘Ping Pong’ have been terrible…I am going to run a photo competition this season…the best photos of ‘Ping Pong’ will all receive prizes of yet unimaginable worth. In fact I will be running heaps of photo competitions this season and will be showcasing customers pics on the website…folk are always interested (nosey!) to see how other growers are getting along.

You can of course find Scabiosa ‘Ping Pong’ seeds in the Higgledy Seed Shop.

Kindest regards

Benjamin Higgledy.

If you have any questions then please ask away…you can find me onTwitter or Facebook.Should you wish you can join ‘Club Higgledy’ (see the right hand side bar).

 

Craspedia For The Cutting Patch.

Craspedia...Photo credit: Period Living  Magazine.
Craspedia…Photo credit: Period Living Magazine.

Higgledy Flower School 2016. #30. Craspedia.

Just a little bit bonkers. It has 1972 written all over it…Craspedia will be all the rage on the season of 2016…oh yes indeedy. These bright yellow spheres on long straight stems are native to Australia but grow remarkably well in the UK

*I start mine in modules of good quality peat free compost at the beginning of April…though I would be happy to sow right into May.

Craspedia and chums...
Craspedia and chums…

*Cover the seeds of Craspedia very lightly and keep the compost moist through germination, which takes about two or three weeks.

Craspedia Seedlings...about three weeks old...
Craspedia Seedlings…about three weeks old…I no longer use these sort of trays as the roots get disturbed when transplanting…I prefer three inch square pots. …it also looks like I was using cheap and nasty compost for this lot…dear dear…come on Higgers…sort it out!

*When the plants are about 6 weeks old they can be hardened off and planted outside…but check the forecast for frost…if there is the chance of a frost just hold off. It does no harm to let the plants stay in their pots a little longer.

*Space to about a hand span apart. I overcrowded mine last year with some towering Rudbeckia and consequently I had  smaller plants.

*Most growers treat it as a half hardy annual…however Craspedia is not all that tender. If you live in a mild climate then it may well make it through the winter. Or you could leave a cloche over it perhaps.

Craspedia with...well...lots of stuff.
Craspedia with…well…lots of stuff.

*Craspedia is as I mentioned, native to Australia, where they call it ‘Billy Buttons’…which is of course very silly…so please let us not adopt our antipodean cousin’s ideas on the matter. I think Craspedia ‘Wonky In The Conk’ is much more suited…

I sell Craspedia at £1.95 for 100ish seeds.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy.

Guest Post From Rosemary McKerrell. Growing annuals and …….Butterflies :

A big thank you to Rosemary McKerrell for taking to time to pen this for Higgledy and for sharing her stunning photographs…all rather splendid….I’m sure you’ll agree.

GARDENING WITH WILDLIFE:

Growing annuals and …….Butterflies :

“May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun and find your shoulder to light upon. To bring you luck, happiness and riches today and beyond.”

An Irish blessing.

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Luis Ricardo Falero, 1888.

In the Cutting Patch;

We all love to see beautiful butterflies fluttering around our flowers and it’s good to know that they aren’t just decorative- they are also good pollinators, so we should do everything we can to encourage them into our gardens. Loads of annuals will attract butterflies. In general they prefer large flower heads like Calendula and Rudbeckia on which they can spread their wings and balance while they collect nectar using a long proboscis to reach deep into the flower. The pollen gets collected on their legs and abdomens and then transferred to the next flower head they visit.

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In the laboratory:

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Amazing pic showing a butterfly’s eye and coiled up proboscis

Butterflies have compound eyes made up of an astonishing 17000 individual light receptors each with their own microscopic lenses. These work in unison to produce a mosaic view of the scene around them which means that they can see through pretty much 360 degreesno wonder it’s hard to sneak up on them! It is said that butterflies have even better colour perception than bees and that they can see red (apparently bees cannot- which is probably a good thing as a “Bee who has seen red” could be quite a scary beast!)

Both bees and butterflies also see a very different pattern of markings on flowers than we do because they are very sensitive to ultraviolet light and scientists have shown that markings which are invisible to us are visible in UV and function as targets or runways.

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Photographs by Andrew Davidhaz / Rochester Institute of Technology

http://harvardmagazine.com/2008/11/animals-speak-color

Rudbeckia under normal light looks yellow to us.

The black-and-white image shows the same flower under UV light and reveals patterns which have probably evolved to attract insects that can see images in the UV part of the spectrum and to direct them to the nectar producing parts of the plant..

What to grow for a butterfly rich garden:

There are many flowers in the Higgledy collections which will attract butterflies. Some of their favourite annuals include cornflowers, marigolds, rudbeckias, corncockle, cosmos, tithonia and scabious and these will certainly encourage butterflies to your cutting patch throughout late spring and summer.

Biennials such as Sweet William, Wallflower, Sweet rocket and Honesty are also great for butterflies. They flower earlier and that makes them really valuable sources of nectar in early spring.

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Red admiral and a Meadow brown enjoying the Rudbeckias

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Cornflowers are a favourite for butterflies

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Cabbage white on Corncockle.

Cabbage whites are definitely not so welcome in the vegetable plot and their caterpillars do love nasturtiums but in my cutting patch the only plant to suffer caterpillar attack so far has been hesperis which is related to cabbages- so should have seen that coming!

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Peacock visiting Feverfew

To entice even more butterflies ;

Some other plants which will help to encourage the butterflies to your garden include Buddleia (the clue is in its common name of “butterfly bush”!) blackberry, ivy, lavender, sedum, oregano and thyme.

 

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Peacock on buddleia

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Speckled wood on bramble.

All these flowers will attract many adult butterflies but most are unsuitable as food plants for the larvae which often have a narrow range of suitable host plants. If you really want to encourage butterflies try letting some of these plants grow in part of your garden as well. Larval food plants are often wild plants and of these, stinging nettles grow frighteningly easily here!- but they do potentially attract a number of species including Peacock, Red Admiral, Comma and Small Tortoiseshell. They need to be grown in a sunny position to encourage egg laying and even then there is no guarantee that the adult butterflies will choose them as a nursery – but it is very exciting if you are lucky enough to have peacock or tortoiseshell caterpillars appearing in your nettle patch.

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Peacock butterfly caterpillars on nettles in 2014

If you can bear to leave some thistles, the Painted Lady lays eggs on welted thistle and creeping thistle.

Any brassicas will attract Large Cabbage White and Small Cabbage White butterflies and as I found to my cost Hesperis are brassicas and one or two plants did get munched last year.

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Hesperis shredded by cabbage white caterpillars in 2015

Cabbage white caterpillars also love nasturtiums so at the first sign check under the leaves for clutches of yellow eggs and rub them off before they can hatch and start chomping their way through your plants.

A number of meadow grasses are used by Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Gatekeeper, Marbled White, Ringlet, Small Heath, and various Skippers.

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Ringlet butterflies in wild flower meadow

If you have Garlic mustard, honesty and lady’s smock in your garden you may attract Orange-Tip and Green-Veined White butterflies. And in my garden both these species seem to like to visit sweet rocket.

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Green veined white

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Female orange tip

And finally:

Many of the butterfly myths throughout the world relate butterflies to the soul; with the caterpillar representing earthly life, the chrysalis or cocoon death, and the full-grown butterfly the freedom of the spirit or soul.

Each year in Mexico millions of Monarch butterflies return to the forests of the Sierra Madre hills above the village of Angangueo between October 31 to November 2 when the Christian holy days of All Hallow’s Eve, All Saints Day and All Souls Day are celebrated collectively as “The Day of the Dead”.

Perhaps not surprisingly the butterflies are seen as the souls of the deceased returning to earth for a brief visit.

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In Greek mythology Psyche was goddess of the soul (in ancient Greek the word for both soul and butterfly is “psyche”) and she is generally depicted with butterfly wings. Here she is being abducted by Eros the God of love and I have to say she doesn’t look that unhappy about it.
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The Abduction of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

And just in case those pesky cabbage whites decide to target your nasturtiums remember that in Ireland in the 1600s it was against the law to kill to kill a white butterfly as it was considered to be the soul of a child…. But I don’t think that should stop you checking for eggs and picking off those greedy caterpillars!

Rosie McKerrell.

 

Growing An Edible Flower Garden.

BeFunky Collage22

“Edible flowers add colour, flavour and texture to savoury and sweet dishes, as well as cordials, oils and butters. A wide range of annuals and perennial edible flowers can be grown in the garden from early spring to late autumn.” RHS

*First off the bat, you must be absolutely sure you have identified your flowers correctly before you start stuffing them down your cake hole…if in doubt, don’t.

*Edible flowers are best harvested first thing in the morning after the dew has dried off.

*Generally, only the petals are used, so discard stamens, pistil and calyx of large flowers.

Higgledy Flower School 2016. #29. Edible Annual Flowers To Grow In A Dedicated Patch.

BeFunky Collage23

*Borage

*Nasturtium

*Malope trifda ‘Vulcan’

*Dill ‘Mammoth’

*Suflower ‘Valentine’

The Higgledy Garden Edible Flower Collection. 10 varieties. 20% off. Free shipping. …well…I had to try and sell you something didn’t I?!

*Sunflower ‘Earthwalker’

*Calendula ‘Art Shades’

*Calendula ‘Indian Prince’

*Cornflower ‘Blue Ball’

*Cornflower ‘Black Ball’

BeFunky Collage24

 

 

You will find details of how to grow all of these beauties (It’s very straight forward) in the Higgledy Flower School 2016. The school is a collection of free tutorials through the late winter and ‘real time’ growing from the 1st April.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy