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Flower Seeds to Sow in September

Growing flowers for cutting in your garden or allotment is becoming very popular now. Some say it’s because we are concerned about the air miles and cost to the environment that flying in flowers from places like Africa and South America brings. There’s concern about the repeated use of pesticides too which linger on the flowers we ship in. There’s no doubt that it feels good to buy locally grown flowers and even grow them ourselves in our own gardens. We know that they’ve been grown without harmful chemicals and there’s a much wider range to choose from, including deliciously scented blooms.

Concern about the environment and wildlife is real, but I think it goes much deeper than that. I believe that growing flowers is linked to our urge to be creative. Creativity is something that everyone has. It may have been squished to the very bottom of your very long ‘to do’ list but it’s there all the same. Have you always promised yourself that one day you’ll grow a beautiful garden, learn to paint or simply take time to make things? That’s evidence of your creative urge. If you’re not allowing yourself to do what you really want to do, then you might feel sad or frustrated and that’s not a great feeling. So perhaps now is the time to put that right!

On Friday on Gardeners World, Frances Tophill visited Helena Willcocks a Florist and Flower Grower at her allotment in London. It was a short clip, but they did manage to fit in a super quick tour of some of her flower beds and a spot of flower arranging too. It was beautiful and inspiring, but what shone out of the TV more than anything else was how both Frances and Helena were enjoying themselves to the full. There’s no doubt that there’s something absolutely amazing about growing and arranging your own flowers. If you missed it you can watch it on the BBC iPlayer Episode 25

Here’s Helena with a huge bunch of Ammi majus and a one of her beautiful flower arrangements. If you click the photo you can see her Instagram feed.

HelenaWillcocks @theallotmentflorist

If you’ve always wanted to have a go at growing your own flowers, then September is a great time to start. Stick to Hardy Annuals to start so you don’t need any expensive equipment. Simply prepare the ground (remove weeds then work the soil to a fine tilth) then sow the seeds where you want them to flower next year.
All the following seeds are completely hardy and very easy to grow.

Hardy Annual Fillers to Sow in September

Hardy Annual Fillers
Row 1 Ammi majus, Anethum Mariska and Orlaya grandiflora
Row 2 Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens, Nigella (distinctive seedheads) and Ammi visnaga
Row 3 Daucus carota, Bupleurum and Nigella

Hardy Annual Flowers to Sow in September

Flowers:

Row 1 Scabiosa atropurpurea Button flowers in tasteful shades of white, pink and soft blue plus bright red and almost black too.
Row 2 Larkspur produce tall spires of blooms in pink, white and blue shades. Calendula officinalis Marigolds are often the first to flower in my garden and are loved by bees and butterflies.
Row 3 Clarkia, Salvia and Centaurea.
Clarkia is beautiful, fast and very cold tolerant. Every bud will open in the vase. Salvia viridis comes in white, blue, pink and mixed and is exceptionally long flowering. Centuarea cyanus. Cornflowers grow in a range of colours and are particularly lovely with Ammi

Eschscholzia californica. Californian Poppies are low growing and brilliant for wildlife and posies. Sow them with Gypsophila for a stunning combination.

Eschscholzia californica with Gypsophila

Papaver somniferum: Papery Poppy flowers are plentiful and followed by fat seed pods. I love the darkly dramatic Papaver ‘Lauren’s Grape’ (below) and if you want seeds for bread baking then Papaver ‘Maanzaad is the one to grow.

Papaver somniferum Laurens Grape

If you watched the clip of Helena and Frances, as well as all the lovely Hardy Annuals you may have noticed beds full of Half Hardy Annuals such as Cosmos, Zinnias and Dahlias. These are all brilliant for late summer colour because they are perennials in their native countries (Mexico and South America) and they will just go on and on flowering here until they are blasted by frost. In some very sheltered gardens, you’ll have flowers from June until November or even December if you are lucky.

Half Hardy Annuals will not survive our wet and cold winter weather. Eventually all UK gardens will have frost, driving rain and bitingly cold winds which will polish them off. Can you tell I’m not looking forward to winter one little bit? You can sow them indoors now if you have a heated greenhouse and a sheltered garden but I’d only suggest that for slow growing Antirrhinum (Snap Dragons) as all the others are much faster to grow.

Sow Antirrhinum under cover to get it off to a great start

It’s usually best to wait until the gentle warm days of spring to sow Half Hardy Annuals. They are very quick to germinate and grow so in just a few weeks you’ll soon have lots of beautiful blooms. And YES, you can grow Dahlias from seed which is brilliant if you want a lot of flowers for cutting to sell in mixed bunches.

Half Hardy Annuals to Sow Next Year inc Dahlias, Rudbeckia and Cosmos

If you want to make sure you get specific Half Hardy Annuals for next summer, you can buy the seeds now and store them in a cool dry place over autumn and winter. Sow them indoors in March and April if you have a greenhouse, if not just wait until May when the soil has warmed up then sow them directly where you want them to flower. Couldn’t be easier!

Of course, you don’t have to grow your own flowers. You can buy them locally and there’s nothing quite like fresh scented flowers in the house. You’ll find British growers at your local market and there are florists all over the UK like Helena growing flowers for sale and for special events.

Which are your favourite flowers?

Are you growing your own flowers for cutting?

Wishing you a very happy and flowery September. Love Gillian

How to Grow Wallflowers

Wallflowers are some of our most popular spring flowering plants. They are part of a group of plants we call Hardy Biennials, which means they grow and develop this year then flower next year. If you’d love masses of early flowers in your garden for wildlife, for cut flowers and beautiful plants to accompany your spring bulbs, then Wallflowers could be ideal for you.

I’m a great fan of planning ahead and making things easy in the garden. Sowing this summer will really pay off. Just sow a couple of packets of Wallflower seeds now for flowering next spring and you’ll be rewarded with lots of beautiful flowers and your local wildlife will thank you for it too! Wallflowers provide an early source of food for beneficial insects and many have the RHS Plants for Pollinators award too.

Wallflower seed is available in single colours such as White, Primrose, Orange and Red so it’s easy to select your favourite then plan a spring colour scheme for your containers, borders or entire garden. The photo below shows Primrose Dame and Fireking Wallflowers,

This year I’ve grown a mix of Sunset Wallflowers for the first time. They are quite lovely. For months in spring I had healthy, bushy plants with tall flower spikes and the most beautiful scented flowers. The seed is more expensive than most Wallflower seeds, but they are so amazing and worth that little extra, I think. Sunset Wallflowers are F1 Hybrids which produce top quality plants. Their flowers have variations of colour like a sunset, so they are really attractive. I’m growing them again for next spring as they were particularly lovely with our tulips and daffodils.

Wallflower ‘F1 Sunset Mixed’

This lovely new Wallflower produces clusters of scented flowers on strong stems. Each flower head is made up of many individual flowers which gives them a most attractive appearance. Blooms are produced early in the year at the same time as Tulips flower from March to the end of May. The Sunset Mix Wallflowers include a range of colours from rich purple and red, primrose, white and apricot to bronze and glorious rich orange flowers. They are jolly useful in the garden, in container or in a border with Tulips and other spring blooms and they’re lovely as a cut flower too. What’s more the RHS recommend Sunset Wallflowers as Perfect for Pollinators.

Grow a row of these in the cutting patch, as bedding plants or in bold groups in a mixed border in full sun for best results. Sunset Wallflowers cost a little more than other Wallflowers, but they are extremely easy to grow and very prolific giving you lots of flowers for not much time or effort!

Genus & Variety: Cheiranthus cheiri (was Erysimum cheiri)  F1 Sunset Mixed
Plant Type:  Hardy Biennial
Height & Spread: 40cm ( 16 inches ) tall x 30cm (12 inches) spread

How to Sow and Grow Wallflowers from Seed

  • Sow Seeds: Sow Wallflower seeds outdoors in a well-prepared seedbed when the soil is warm from the end of May/June to August. Alternatively sow in modules either indoors or outdoors but be careful to keep shaded and temperatures low. Wallflowers will not germinate well in heat. Keep seed trays moist and shaded. Germinates in 7-14 days at 15°C-18°C. Grow on then plant out six weeks later in August/early September. 
  • Thin/Plant Out:  Transplant to flowering position in autumn allowing plenty of space for the foliage and roots to develop before winter sets in. Allow a minimum of 30cm per plant.
  • Conditions Required: Wallflowers love moist but well drained soil. They prefer a site with plenty of sunshine and can also grow well in dappled shade. Sunset Mixed Wallflowers are great for containers too. Feed and water regularly to keep flower production going. 
  • Flower Production: Sow Wallflowers this summer for flowering next spring. Like many biennials, Wallflowers bloom early in the year, usually from March onwards. They are great for filling the gap before hardy annuals and perennials come into flower in June. Clusters of scented blooms are produced for up to three months until the end of May.
  • Picking: Cut flowers regularly and deadhead to make sure that your plants continue to produce new blooms. When cutting, strip the lower leaves, sear stem ends in boiling water for 20 seconds and place the cut flowers into a tall bucket of clean water. Allow to rest overnight before arranging. Wallflowers often last up to 10 days as a cut flower.
  • Planting Combinations: If you have the space, I suggest you grow plenty of lovely Wallflowers. You can never have too many! Wallflowers grow particularly well with Tulips, Daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs either in flower beds, borders or in large containers

Hot Weather Notes

One really important point to note from the Sowing and Growing Information above is that Wallflowers do not germinate well when it’s hot. As it’s hot all over the UK this week (25°C-35°C) and wallflowers prefer much cooler conditions (15°C-18°C) I recommend waiting until temperatures return to normal next week before sowing your Wallflower seeds.

Sow Direct or Sow in Modules/Seed Trays?

I usually hedge my bets by sowing directly into the ground AND sowing in trays or modules. We have plenty of wild creatures here including voles and mice, blackbirds and Mallard ducks which may damage or disturb tender young seedlings. We love all the wildlife… but I really love having plenty of home-grown plants too!  Positioning seed trays in a shady spot outdoors such as in the gap between rows of Sweet Peas or at the base of tall annuals such as Cosmos means that the seeds can develop and grow undisturbed AND it’s more likely that I’ll remember to water them too!

Are you growing Wallflowers from seed this summer?
Which is your favourite variety or colour… I’d love to know.

Happy Gardening! Gillian 🙂

How to grow Lychnis coronaria

Lychnis coronaria is often called Rose Campion. This is one of our most beautiful and popular summer flowering garden plants and it’s easy to grow from seed. It’s a perennial plant producing tall silvery stems topped by deep pink flowers. Each plant grows to 60-90cm (2-3 feet) tall and spreads to around 50cm (18 inches). 

Continue reading How to grow Lychnis coronaria

Seeds to Sow in January

I’ve started to think about what I’d like to grow this year. Naturally I’ll be growing plants for our bees and butterflies and I also like to grow flowers specifically for cutting.

I love to have fresh flowers indoors and of course I love to receive flowers as a gift…

Continue reading Seeds to Sow in January

How to grow Hornbeam

It’s was a frosty morning here in Lancashire, North West England. Despite the cold I was tempted outside to have a look at the garden and of course to take some pictures of frosted plants. As expected there were lots of frosted seedheads and the duck pond was completely frozen over. At the edge of the pond a some of the plants were lit up by the early morning sunshine.

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Duck inspired plan for 2019

It was a frosty start this morning in our Lancashire garden with wildlife tumbling in from the fields for their breakfast as usual. I nipped out in my dressing gown and wellies to take a few photos of these wild ducks. They pop in every morning for a light snack of corn followed by the all you can eat buffet in the borders consisting mainly of fat black slugs and juicy pale snails.

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3 Reasons to Grow Sweet Peas in Autumn

Let’s get straight to the point… Autumn sown Sweet Peas produce

  1. Stronger plants with a good root system
  2. Healthier plants with better disease resistance
  3. Masses of scented flowers for cutting

There’s no reason to wait until spring as long as you have a small covered area to protect them from the worst of the winter weather.

Continue reading 3 Reasons to Grow Sweet Peas in Autumn

How to Grow Rudbeckia Cherry Brandy

Rudbeckia hirta Cherry Brandy is a fabulously glamorous plant. With huge crimson red blooms with a hint of golden brandy colouring and a long flowering period these plants are a great addition to the late summer garden. They are brilliant for cut flowers, to attract bees and butterflies or simply enjoy them in your beds and borders.

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Bluebells and Red Campion

At last the Bluebells are blooming in our garden. They were already here when we bought our house and spread themselves around as they like. Our house sits on land which is a mix of old farmland and woodland so I’m guessing these plants have grown here a while. The Bluebells are a mix of our native dark blue Bluebells and Spanish Bluebells which have paler blue flowers and pink blooms too. If you’d like to see the difference click the Bluebell on the left. 

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Best Plants for Butterflies

Did you know that Butterflies need our help?

76% of British native and visiting Butterflies have declined since 1976

Changes to the British landscape have affected the habitat and food supply that our butterflies need. Destruction of habitat is thought to be the prime cause with changes in agriculture and horticulture coming a close second. These are the main reasons that Britain is not as Butterfly friendly as it was 40 years ago:

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