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

Happiness is a Garden

I love a good gardening book. Over the years I’ve read quite a lot, especially when I earned my living as a Garden Designer. When I needed to know all sorts of technical details learning from others who generously shared their knowledge in a book was brilliant for me. Gardening is one of the most popular hobbies and each year there are lots of new books to choose from. Many of them are very practical giving instructions about HOW TO tackle a particular task. I find it fascinating to read how others approach their garden. I’m also very interested in WHY gardens mean so much to some people.

Continue reading Happiness is a Garden

Wildlife in the Garden

Have you ever noticed how an everyday activity sometimes turns into a magical event? We live in a small village in the North West of England. We’re just on the edge of the village with our garden stretching out into the surrounding countryside. Apart from traffic passing through on the main street it’s a peaceful place. Just the way we like it. Everyday I make a point of walking to our local post box to send orders on their way to my lovely customers.

Continue reading Wildlife in the Garden

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.

Continue reading How to Grow Ipomoea lobata

Symphytotrichum ‘Little Carlow’

It’s been mild here again this month. Over the years I’ve got used to first frosts beginning during the first week of October. Temperatures have cooled a little it’s true but for some reason the cold snap hasn’t arrived. Indoors I’ve changed our lightweight summer bedding for toasty winter quilts but outdoors I’ve left my collection of tender scented geraniums on the deck where they are thriving. I will move them into the greenhouse at the first sign of frost but there’s no sign of it so far.

Continue reading Symphytotrichum ‘Little Carlow’

Arlington Row in Bibury

Bibury is one of the most well known of all Cotswold villages. With rows of honey coloured stone cottages, a beautiful church, a nice hotel and good pubs it’s a lovely place to soak up the relaxed atmosphere and to enjoy a stroll and a meal if you’re in the area. There’s even a trout farm to visit and a wide shallow river full of fish and ducks runs through the village. It’s English through and through and quite gorgeous. In fact Bibury is often described as the most beautiful village in England.

Continue reading Arlington Row in Bibury

Twenty Minutes in the Garden

How to get things done in the garden…
Even if you don’t feel like it!

I’ve just had my coffee in the garden. It’s amazing out there today, lovely and warm with birds feeding and calling to each other and the incessant buzz of insects on the hunt for nectar and pollen. Sunlight shining through the leaves of the oak tree has turned them lime green. It feels like a summer day and spending just a few minutes outside in the sunshine makes me happy. There are signs of autumn too. In the hedgerow brambles are laden with plump blackberries and huge fat red hips are lined up along the whippy stems of wild roses.

Continue reading Twenty Minutes in the Garden

Autumn Colours

We have had the most fantastic Autumn here in Lancashire with stunning leaf colours and lovely mild days. It’s all changing now.
As temperatures start to fall the leaves will fall too. I love autumn and enjoy watching the seasonal changes. No hard frost here yet but it’s on the way I am sure. Until it arrives I am trying to make the most of this season outdoors before we go slip sliding into December and Christmas!

Continue reading Autumn Colours