Monthly Archives: February 2016

Growing Echinops From Seed.

Thanks to @BessyBrad (Twitter) for sharing this pic, taken at the weekend.
Thanks to @BessyBrad (Twitter) for sharing this pic…some fine Zinnia and Scabiosa in there too… bananas.

Higgledy Flower School 2016. #33. Echinops.

Echinops saunter through their flowery universe whilst channelling the vibe of a medieval mace. The silvery blue, spiky chaps are friendly in each and every other way however and seem to have an understanding with the bees and the butterflies who hang out around them all summer long.

Echinops are perennials…you may get a few flowers in the first year but you may not…but after the first season you will have an abundance of the beasties year in year out. They self seed like troopers too….

Red Admiral on Echinops. (3) sm
Red Admiral (I think). Photo credit: Unknown.

“When not looking lovely in the garden, they look quite something in a vase, both in flower and afterwards, when you are left with a washed blue seedhead. They last a long time, too, particularly if you change the water often.” Alys Fowler

*I sow mine in pots in the spring but you can sow from Autumn too.

*Sow in pots no smaller than square three inch pots as the roots of Echinops need a bit of wiggle room to keep them happy.

Higgledy Flower School 2016.

*I plant out my spring sown seedlings after the frosts about a foot apart.

*Echinops are happy in a wide range of soils but seem to prefer well drained ones….and will not grumble if the soil is poor.

*Harvest the first flush of flowers and a second flush will trot along in a few weeks time. They should flower from early August.

Echinops in the Cambridge Botanical Gardens.....many moons ago....
Echinops in the Cambridge Botanical Gardens…..many moons ago….with the lovely Karen Wells.
...and here's a photograph from a competitors website...I wonder where they got that from!!! ;) 'Seeds of Eden'...naughty naughty!
…and here’s a photograph from a competitor’s website…I wonder where they got that from!!! 😉 ‘Seeds of Eden’…naughty naughty!

*Should you wish you can divide the plants in the spring.

*Echinops are most excellent when dried and will make your arrangements looks as though they have been sent back from a glorious utopian future.

…In Greek, ‘Echinops’ translates as ‘like a hedgehog’…’s funny how Greek names sound so much more clever when you don’t know what they mean….

Now if you are interested in growing some Echinops from seed…I might be able to help you out…I know a fairly decent fellow who may have a few packets of ‘Ritro’…he sells them at £1.95 for 40ish seeds.

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).



‘The Allotment’, New Category.

Looking across the beds. The willow hedge has now been removed due to orders from the Allotment Police.

I have had my allotment plot for a year now. I have used it entirely for growing flowers. There are plenty of vacant plots…so I’m not worried that I’m keeping someone from growing veg for their family.

This is the same plot as it looks now (February)…the willow hedge would have run down the fence that runs out of shot on the right hand side.

The plot had been left for several years before I took it on…it’s full of nasties….all the usual suspects, lots of creeping buttercup and a good smattering of docks and nettles.

The plot is roughly 10 x 10 metres. I have divided it into meter wide beds with 50 cm weed fabric paths between them that I will turn to grass paths when I grow up and get organised.


A footpath splits the whole plot in two…behind the camera there is a similar sized plot.

…I need to do a bit of weeding when it dries out.

I will start work on these plots when it dries out in March…all the posts regarding the lotty can be found under ‘The Allotment’ category. (Categories can be chosen from the right hand sidebar)

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This chaps plot is about five down from mine…Storm Imogen gave us all a bit of a bashing!

The site is pretty exposed…but being that I’m a fully trained professional, I can deal with.

My autumn sown annuals have not fared well however…they’ve been flooded…and blown about…but I’m not complaining, at least I didn’t lose my shed…but then again, I haven’t got one to lose.

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If it’s warm and sunny…Furface comes up to hang out.

It’s all very basic…I don’t use a greenhouse…just some small seedling tunnels…I don’t use a rotavator either.

I don’t sell any flowers from this plot…it wouldn’t be in the spirit of having an allotment…what I don’t use for myself and my chums, goes to the local old folks homes. This way Jesus will love me for a sunbeam.

Kindest regards

Benjamin Higgledy






Sowing And Growing Nicotiana ‘White Trumpets’.



Higgledy Flower School 2016. #32. Nicotiana ‘White Trumpets’.

Nicotiana ‘White Trumpets’ is a tall and handsome beastie who is not only wonderful for cutting but also releases a heady perfumed scent of an evening as the mid Summer dusk falls over your cider and blackcurrant.

*Sow from the beginning of April until May. Nicotiana is a half hardy annual so it must be kept away from the frost. So either sow undercover in April or outside after mid May.


*I find it best to sow in pots. I choose three inch square ones as they fit neatly into a seed tray. Being neat and tidy make me feel organised and like my life is going in the right direction. #Winner

*Moisten the compost and sow the seeds in the center…sow as thinly as you can….Nicotiana seeds are like dust…I always get more seedlings than I need.

These ones were sown in fibre pots...looking healthy.
These ones were sown in fibre pots…looking healthy.

*Nicotiana seeds need light to germinate (in theory) so don’t cover the seeds…as a general rule of thumb don’t cover any really fine seeds. You can however use some Vermiculite…this costs about a fiver from the garden center. I now cover most of my seed trays in it…it’s silver gold horticultural bling and will make your seedlings feel like gangsters.

Higgledy Flower School 2016.

*I cover my trays in a sheet of newspaper to keep the moisture in.

*Being that I am fairly right wing in the cutting garden, I dispose of all seedlings bar one per pot…keeps things simple.

Nicotiana 'White Trumpets'



*Let your seedlings grow away…wait until after the frosts until you plant them out…they will need hardening off first….there is no harm in leaving them in their pots until the end of May when the warmer soil and weather will make them more welcome to the outside world.

*Space your plants outside with no less than a foot between plants. Plants can grow to a meter and a half tall so may need staking if your cutting garden is exposed.

*Sing gentle songs to them in Mexican. (Optional)

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy

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

Related posts:

*Malope trifida ‘Vulcan’ #25

*When to sow annual flower seeds #24

*Cerinthe #23

*Sowing flower seeds in January #22

*Ammi visnaga #21



Sweet Peas In Containers.


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) order that (hopefully) I can demonstrate that you don’t need peat in your compost…for sweet peas at least.


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 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.



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).