“Generally speaking, biennial seeds are sown in summer and the plants develop though the rest of the season; so that by the time winter sets in they will have made substantial plants. Then, in early spring, they’re off to a flying start and provide us with a colourful display.” RHS
To the rookie, in his adventures in the cutting patch, waiting twelve months for flowers seems like a preposterous idea and one that shouldn’t be undertaken by a young buck with a pocket full of seeds and a head full of dreams. Slow down dude! While we all love a brassy annual that blazes its way to flower stardom in twelve weeks there is also much glory to be discovered in the patient cultivation of our robust friends, the biennials. Allow me to elucidate using bullet points for added drama:
*First off the bat, biennials will generally be flowering before your autumn sown annuals. So you can start harvesting blooms in April and by late May they will be coming thick and fast with the first of your annuals about to join the disco too.
*Biennial flowers are the workaholics of the flower patch, even beyond the dedicated ethic of hardy annuals. These joyous beasties will provide you with buckets and buckets of flowers….and we all like that don’t we.
*Biennials can be sown in trays in May, June, and July and left outside out of the way until early Autumn (Before the end of September) when you can plant them out in beds you may have used for autumn-sown annuals. This way you don’t waste any space or ‘bed time’. Equally, if you have the space you can direct sow them straight into the soil.
*The majority of biennials will freely self-seed and will reappear year on year. I would however recommend you buy fresh seed stock….but that might be because I have a seed shop. ;)
*Biennials are classy…having a biennial patch will demonstrate to your neighbours that you know what you’re doing and that you haven’t wasted your life watching that Thrones of Dragon Games thing on the TV box.
*A bed of biennials over the winter is much healthier for the soil than leaving it as bare earth.
*Biennials can be sown in summer when you will have little else to sow….happy joy joy! :)
*Flowers like Hesperis, Sweet William and Wallflowers have great scent and will fill your front room with delightful niffs.
*Biennial flowers produce much needed early food for the bee population. The bees will sing songs of gratitude to you.
*If you are looking for a country style planting…then what could be better than a cluster of Foxgloves, Honesty, Hesperis and Sweet Williams all blowing about in the breeze like a scene out of The Darling Buds Of May.
*Biennials are very ‘old school’….cut and arrange some for your Granny and you will be drowned in Bakewell Tart and clotted cream.
I hope your whistle is well and truly wetted for your biennial adventure…