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.
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.
Summer is the time to sow Iceland Poppies and here are my favourites right now. I love this new variety Papaver nudicaule ‘Champagne Bubbles’. They really are the most beautiful flowers to grow from seed. Poppy seeds are so tiny it’s hard to believe that such beautiful blooms are produced in just a few months. I was completely blown away by the large colourful flowers when I took these photos in April in my greenhouse. They have gorgeous open papery blooms which open like crumpled silk. Flowers are all shades of orange, pink, yellow, red and white. They are extremely hardy and will tolerate cold winters. Flowers are produced in late spring and early summer before the rest of the garden really gets going. I’m always looking for some early plants for my garden and these fit the bill beautifully. If you’re looking for some colour in your garden in spring and early summer too then Iceland Poppies may be just the thing for you.
Now is the time to sow Biennial Seeds. But what exactly are they and why do we need to sow them in summer?
What are Biennials?
Biennials are hardy plants which are grown from seeds sown this summer. They produce roots and foliage this year then burst into life next spring with masses more foliage, long stems and lots of flowers in late spring and early summer. Sown this summer they have eight to ten months to grow into super strong, healthy plants.
Foxgloves are just coming into bloom in our garden. They are woodland plants really. Their large leaves make the most of all the available sunlight so they can grow in shady areas so they are brilliant if you have dappled shade in your garden.
What is Stratification?
Some seeds such as Aquilegia and Larkspur become dormant when collected and stored. In the garden our usual winter weather is all it takes to break the seeds dormancy and trigger germination. Moisture in the soil and frost action both help to break down the hard seed coat so that shoots and roots can grow.
Foxgloves have performed very well for us this year. I grew them from seed and planted them around the oak tree and my garden studio in the spring garden. I also planted a big patch at the edge of the Bluebell wood – they flowered twice, as usual in spring and then quite unexpectedly again in autumn. You can cut the flower stalks right back when you tidy your garden in autumn and some people like to remove the plants as soon as flowering is over. As you know I prefer to leave some seed heads on my plants so that tiny creatures have hiding places and seeds to eat over winter. And here’s my bonus.
This week I have heard several complaints about this summer in the UK. Whilst I agree that it wasn’t a patch on last year regarding high temperatures I can’t agree that it’s been a bad year for gardens. Here’s why:
There are some plants I wouldn’t like to be without in my garden. Lathyrus odoratus commonly known as Sweet Peas are right at the top of my list. They were the first seeds I ever sowed in the garden of our first home. Growing them got me started gardening and I have grown them every year since then. If you are new to growing Sweet Peas then please take the hint from me and have a go! They are easy to grow and very hardy so you can’t go wrong.
Dwarf Cosmos in profusion growing in a nearby garden had me reaching for both my camera and sunglasses today!
A bed of orangey-red geraniums right behind added to the eye watering effect.
What a traffic stopper!