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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New Flower Seed Collections

New Flower Seed Collections.

There are three exciting new listings for Lucky Dip packages filled with Country Garden Seeds.
Each surprise package may include seeds from any of the following categories:

  • Hardy Annuals
  • Half Hardy Annuals
  • Sweet Peas and Climbers

Please note that every Lucky Dip surprise package is totally unique and no two will contain the same seeds…

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How to Grow Ipomoea lobata

Ipomoea lobata ‘Exotic Love’.

I have to admit that for years the exotic appearance of this amazing plant deterred me from trying it. How can something so dramatic and tropical looking survive in our climate? Well it’s true that Ipomoea is native to hot South American countries such as Mexico and Brazil. It’s a perennial plant there flowering year after year, eventually growing to 5 metres / 16 feet tall. But in fact they do grow very well here too – but not quite so tall! We need to treat it as a Half Hardy Annual, sow it late then allow it to grow and flower in just one year. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it their prestigious Award of Garden Merit to confirm that Ipomoea is a reliable performer in UK gardens.

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Looking Good 24th June 2016

We’ve had lots of sunshine and quite a bit of rain this week which has really moved things forward in the garden. Our plants have responded well to the warmth and water and they are beginning to do what I hoped when I started planning things. There’s so much looking good in the garden in June it’s hard to know what to choose this week. As usual I have to go with what draws my attention and this week it’s some plants that I’ve grown from seed.

Some of our early flowering Hardy Annuals are blooming. There’s Borago officinalis which is quite hairy and produces the most amazing blue flowers that the bees go mad for. I usually grow lots of them with Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ in the herb bed with chives and mint which makes for a nice display as well as a useful patch for me to cut both for the kitchen and for cut flowers.



Sticking to the blue theme there’s one of my all time favourite annuals flowering away now. It’s Salvia viridis ‘Oxford Blue’ The intense deep blue/purple colour actually comes from bracts at the top of each flower stalk. If you look carefully at the photo below you’ll see the real flowers are blue and white and they are quite tiny. Even so they are also a magnet for pollinating insects. The common name for this plant is Clary Sage. It’s so productive I recommend you grow this if you want something in flower from early June until the end of October or even longer if the weather is mild where you live.


Our blue Irises are looking lovely too in various shades of blue from palest lilac to deep purple. I don’t know the name of the Iris on the left below… if you do please let me know! The middle photo is Iris sibirica ‘Flight of Butterflies’ and the deep purple bearded one on the right is Iris ‘Sable’. Their flowers don’t last long but they are quite lovely whilst they last. These weren’t grown from seed but I am wondering if it’s possible to propagate them like that rather than dividing their tubers. Certainly the vigorous yellow Flag Iris,  Iris pseudacorus in our duck pond seems to spread around by seed as we don’t divide them yet they are increasing year on year.


I always think it’s good to have a contrast too. When I’m growing flowers for cutting or simply for making a nice display in the garden then I try to include something with a bit of a zing. It could be lime green foliage such as Euphorbia oblongata or Alchemilla mollis or some pure white blooms such as Cosmos, Feverfew or Poppies.


And I’m loving the bright orange and yellow Calendula flowers with these blue flowers too. Orange in particular makes the blues seem so much more intense somehow.




Love GillianWhat’s looking good in your garden or neighbourhood this week?
Are you growing Hardy Annuals? I’d love to know.
Feel free to join in with Looking Good by adding a link to your post with a comment here and a link to this post in your blog post.

Happy Gardening! Gillian 🙂

Sowing Hardy Annual Seeds

It’s an exciting time in the garden. Spring flowers are blooming, bulbs are finally poking their noses through the earth and some early flowering shrubs are decorated with jewel like blossom too. It’s quite exciting indoors too this month! I’ve been sowing seeds indoors for a few weeks now. For Looking Good in the Garden on Friday I think my seedlings are the stars this week. Hardy Annual seeds can be started off outdoors in early autumn and from mid spring onwards. Here’s how…

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White Flowers

We have just heard the fantastic news that a friend is getting married in Autumn. She’s chosen a natural theme and would prefer to have locally grown flowers. She would like to stick to a budget and that got me thinking… What flowers would be suitable for the big day? More importantly which flowers can be easily and inexpensively grown by the brides family and friends.

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Scabiosa atropurpurea

The last day of November has been a complete washout here with wind and rain for most of the day. Despite storm Clodah hitting us (our third storm in three weeks) a patch of Scabiosa atropurpurea are still in bloom in the garden and what’s more they are full of buds. You may know them as Pincushion flowers. They are tall annual flowers, impossibly glamorous and lightly scented. Here’s a blue one – photo taken in August outdoors.

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Papaver paeoniflorum

Storm Barney is still raging so I’m distracting myself by pretending it’s still summer and looking at photos of beautiful flowers.

This is the Peony flowered poppy Papaver paeoniflorum which has a beautiful frilly centre to each flower. They are full of pollen and there is enough room in the centre of each bloom to allow bees and other insects to land and collect the goodies. The papery petals are palest pink with splashes of deeper pink at the base of each one.

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Poppy Seedheads

The weather is foul here in North West England. We have had a lovely mild autumn so far and it seems that we are paying for it now. We are feeling the brunt of ex hurricane Kate… the first storm of the season to hit us and the Met Office have named this storm Abigail. We have had torrential rain and gale force winds for the past two days. In places six to eight inches (15-20 cm ) of rain fell in 24 hours. That’s more than a month of rain… a heck of a lot of extra water. Trees have fallen and there is flooding in some low lying areas.

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