Many Biennials are flowers that our Grandparents would have known well…but that lost favour over the last couple of decades, victims of an ever increasing clamour for instant gratification. Foxgloves, Sweet Williams and Honesty were exchanged for petrol station Gerberas. Wallflowers, Daucus and Hesperis were paved over, their place taken by over made up supermarket bunches that loiter in the foyer like cheap hotel tarts………but now they are back! …and this time it’s personal!
What are Biennial flowers?
How To Sow Biennials.
I sow biennials for the Higgledy Garden in June and July. Although they can happily be sown directly into weed free tilthy soil I much prefer to sow them into pots or modules. The reason for this is two fold. Fold number 1 is that sowing direct means weeding around tiny seedlings for weeks. Fold number 2 is that watering a tray of biennials is more efficient than watering a whole row or patch of seedlings. Fold number 3 (This is a free bonus fold) is that I will ultimately have more control on exactly where the plants are placed. Fold number 4 (I can only apologise for not thinking this through) is that I can plant the seedlings out in September in a bed that, at the time of sowing, had annual flowers in it….therefore saving space and not leaving the bed empty over the winter.
I sow into peat-free compost (Melcourt) and keep the trays outside….the seedlings will burn up in a greenhouse….keep them watered over the summer and plant them out before the autumn equinox, which is around the 21st September. It is crucial the plants are allowed the late summer and autumn to get their roots wriggling about and coming to terms with their lot before winter sets in.
Foxglove seeds need to be sown on the surface as they need light to germinate…
Which Biennials Are Best For The Cutting Patch?
The biennials in the Higgledy Seed Emporium have all be chosen to be admirable in the vase. We also have a strong leaning to the old fashioned.
*Honesty (Common name) or Lunaria (so named because it’s pale seed pod discs resemble the moon). Honesty flowers make great cut flowers…they last well over a week in the vase and they offer a good dollop of colour when everything is still looking a little drab. They will happily self seed for you too…or collect the seed pods yourself and sow in pots. This way you can plant them out in late summer exactly where you want them…which is one in the eye for chaos theory.
*Sweet William. Sweet Williams just rock! That’s all there is to it. They smell amazing…look amazing and are all round good eggs. Like all biennials, they are a piece of cake to grow from seed. ‘Auricula Eyed’ are a firm and classic favourite. ‘Alba’ and ‘Nigricans’ are regularly used in contemporary floristry….tres a la mode. (I have added a mix into the 2020 Biennial Bundle….’Higgledy Mix’ is a mix of single coloured Sweet Williams….presently they can only be had by purchasing the Biennials bundle…but when I have worked out what buttons to press and in what order I shall make them available as single packets.
*Foxgloves. Once again a white foxglove ‘Alba‘ is a pretty essential bit of kit for the home florist…don’t be without it. I also grow ‘Excelsior’ which is very old school…beautiful tall spires with flowers from creamy pink to purple with speckled throats…new to my stock is ‘Apricot’ and it’s proving very popular with the Higgledy regular customers.
*Hesperis. So named after the nymphs who wiggled around the tree of life…Goddesses of the evening…and our dear old Hesperis flower releases her scent in the evening. I love this flower…one of my favourites of all the flowers I have ever grown. Simple…pretty…easy to grow…reliable…sturdy…super sexy.
Higgers and Flash