It was Great Uncle Hector-Higgledy who who taught me how to grow Hesperis from seed…he said if you steeped the flowers in port they would alleviate gout. He had brought his seeds back from an expedition to central Asia in the 1950’s where he was attempting to find the giant and now very rare, panda eating squirrel.
The Hesperis that Hector taught me how to grow had the most delightful sent and Aunti Gethsemane would insist on keeping a patch by the kitchen door and would often bring a vase of them inside…she was not adverse to sprinkling the petals on salads too…ahead of her time that lady… dam fine woman.
The first thing that Uncle Hector told me was, “Benjamin…do you know what I mean by a biennial?”
“I think so Uncle…is it a chap who plays at both ends of the wicket?”
“…um…no. A biennial is a plant that requires two growing seasons to complete its life cycle. During the first growing season it produces mainly foliage. In it’s second year it will flower and set seed, often early in the season”
“Oh how swimmingly wonderful”, I said…eyes ablaze with delight “Can we grow some this year Uncle Hector…oh do say we can…oh do oh do oh do!”
“Indeed we can young Benjamin…now pay attention…this is how we shall go about it.”
How To Grow Hesperis From Seed. Uncle Hectors Top Tips:
*One can start them off in pots of seed compost undercover from June or sow them direct into the soil from mid May.
*First of all find a bed that gets some sunshine (though they will grow in part shade too) and is free draining…a fairly rich bed is good for Hesperis to grow in. Make sure this bed is raked to a fine tilth and that it is completely weed free.
*Your seeds should only have the very lightest covering of soil as they like light to germinate.
*If I have the space I sow into two straight rows…about a foot apart.
*Once the seedlings are a couple of inches high I thin them out to a foot apart…plenty of room to get a hoe through.
*Hesperis will happily self seed for you…year in year out.
Top Trivia: Hesperis is Greek for ‘Evening’ which is a reference to the time of day it releases it scent…you will notice that moths are pretty keep on the little darlings.
There are two Hesperis for the cut flower garden ‘Purpurea’ (Purple…well..mauve) and ‘Albiflora’ (White). I sell the seeds at £1.95 for 500.
I can’t recommend enough you give growing Hesperis from seed a go…it is very rewarding…and you will be keeping up the old school traditions. ;)
Try growing Hesperis with autumn sown cornflowers for a ‘country style’ vibe.
Please have a peak at my ‘Biennials collection’…