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A lovely unfussy plant which gently and reliably self seeds. A pretty filler in the border and the vase, its attractive, purple bell-like flowers are a magnet for bees and other pollinators. It has silver grey/green leaves which often have a blue wash. It flowers early and long. Seeds can be sown in Autumn or Spring. Large seeds are easy to sow at a depth of 1/4 in peat free compost.Some people soak the seeds before sowing, but haven’t found this necessary as germination is reliable. Space plants 12″ apart. Enjoys sun, but flowers well in part shade too as well as tolerate clay soil. Gathered from my plot. (At least 15 seeds)
Homesown Fragrant Sweetpea mix
These are seeds saved from the plot from a selection of my favourite varieties chosen for their amazing scent and colour. As well as the flowers in the image there are a range of blues in different shades. These seeds can be planted under cover now until March. The seedlings tolerate down to -5 so once they have germinated with a little warmth, they can be left outside to harden up. If the weather is particularly brutal, they might need a little protetion. Sow seeds about 1/2″ deep across the surface of peat free compost. Once they have germinated, and before seed leaves have unfurled, pot them on to 2 per 9cm pot. Prepare the soil to help water retention and plant out in Spring when weather is hospitable. Plant each pot around 8″ apart. Sweetpeas like to be well watered and prefer sun. They will need support to clamber up and regular picking to keep them flowering. They are the most generous of flowering annuals, but do need quite a lot of attention.
At least 25 seeds per packet
The loveliest of annual grasses which gives movement and delicate grace to pots and borders. It is an enthusiastic self seeder so remove flower heads before seeds drop if you don’t want too many. This should not be a hardship as it is excellent as a cut flower and dries well too. Sow in early Spring or early Autumn under cover with peat free compost and lightly cover. Prick out and plant on when fill 9cm pot. Alternatively, can be sown direct in April and May. Plants should be planted 8 to 12 inches apart. Tolerant of cold. Can grow to 18″ high depending on position. Around 30 seeds per packet.
A more delicate looking relative of cow parsley, it has pure white, umbelifer flowers which are beautiful towards the back of the border and when cut for inside. It likes sun and well drained soil, but can tolerate part shade. It will flower white, frothy clouds of loveliness from May until the first frosts. Can be sown in Autumn or Spring under cover or from March onwards direct. It is surprisingly resilient in cold, down to at least -5, but needs support to protect from wind. A bee and pollinator magnetSpace plants 9 to 12″ apart; they can reach 3′. Seed collected from my plot – over 100 in packet.
Half Hardy Annuals
Tagetes cinnabar (Great Dixter)
This is an extremely glamorous, velvety, deep orange/rusty red annual which is exceptionally long flowering. The variety originated from Great Dixter and is an upright, tall flower with delicate green foliage. It is easy to grow and can be sown thinly under cover with some warmth. Once it has germinated, move to cooler, but frost free conditions. Plant out once risk of hard frost has gone in sun. Can reach up to 3′ and makes an excellent cut flower.
Helichrysum mix: copper red, white & pink
Helichrysum or strawflower is beautiful either fresh or dried and although tender has kept going most of the Summer and Autumn. Flowers can be cut fully open to be used fresh or half opened if drying. Can be sown early, but will need protection from cold. Plant out around 12″ apart, though can be squeezed a little closer.The mix has copper red, white and pink, but there is variety of colour within this. Plant out once danger of hard frost gone. Likes sun, but can tolerate some shade.
Lathyrus latifolius Pink Pearl
A lovely perennial sweetpea which doesn’t have the heady scent of the annual varieties, but has beautiful and prolific flowers which are great in the garden or cut for the house. It also has the advantage of coming back year after year. It is a robust, hardy plant which likes sun. As the annual sweetpea , it needs support as it can grow over 6′. Avoid allowing flowers to seed if you don’t want the plant to spread too much. The mauve/lavender flowers grow in large, pretty clusters.
Echinops bannaticus ‘Star Frost’
A brilliant echinops with silvery white globes on silvery white stems. Grows up to 3′ to 4′ and enjoys a sunny position, but will tolerate some shade. It is loved by bees and butterflies and is trouble free. Flowers in its first year. It clumps up and can be divided in Spring/Autumn. Sow seeds in Spring. A lovely, trouble free plant – if you don’t want it to self seed cut flower heads. It is wonderful as a cut flower and to dry it, just hang a bunch upside down in a warm, dark place.
A beautiful perennial quaking grass, full of movement, which has very lovely locket shaped flowers in Summer. Can be grown under cover to start, otherwise sow direct in April shallowly. Thin seedlings to around 9 ins apart and keep thinnings to transplant elsewhere. The plants can grow up to 2′ tall. Cut down to the ground if begin to look scruffy in late Summer. Its flowers are beautiful dried and seeds can be saved for more plants. Likes sun and well drained soil but can cope with different conditions.