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

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…

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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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Wallflower Giant Pink

 

Giant Pink Wallflowers are still available in the Pink and White Biennial Flowers Collection. I have a few boxes left and they will sell out fast so to be completely fair it’s first come first served. Sow them this month then your young plants will carry on growing whilst the soil is still warm this autumn. All the seeds in this collection are Hardy Biennials so they will not only survive but thrive outside throughout the winter months then burst into life again in spring. You’ll have a good selection of early pink and white blooms which are lovely in the garden with tulips, perfect for pollinators and excellent for cut flowers of course. There are 6 packets of seed in this collection for £9.95.

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Growing Lettuce from Seed

At the start of every new year my thoughts turn towards healthy eating. Not just because I over indulged over the holiday period. Coffee and Mince Pie anyone? Now’s the time of year to start growing healthy food for your garden and kitchen. If you haven’t grown your own food before one of the best plants to start with is Lettuce, mainly because it’s quick and very easy to grow.

Did you know that commercially produced lettuce is sprayed with insecticides, pesticides and herbicides about 10 times before it’s ready for sale? Honestly… that’s enough to put you off your salad!

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Sowing Sweet Peas in Autumn

lilac-sweet-peaOctober is a great month to sow Sweet Peas.

In fact if you sow them in October, November or December you will have much better plants and earlier flowers next year. They are easy to grow and super productive… for masses of scented flowers for cutting you can’t beat Sweet Peas! 

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Sowing Biennials

Hesperis-MatronalisWhat are Biennials?

Biennials are hardy plants which grow roots and foliage this year then flower next year. Sown in summer they have around eight months to produce super strong healthy plants which are capable of producing lots of lovely strong flower stems from late spring onwards.

Why grow Biennials? Biennials are brilliant for early flowers next year. They usually start blooming in May and finish in July although there are exceptions. A patch of Hesperis (Sweet Rocket) in our garden has been flowering since April and is still producing lovely pale purple blooms in August. If you like to grow flowers for your home or you have a special event in late spring or maybe you are planning to sell cut flowers next year…  you’ll find biennials very reliable and super productive. They are inexpensive to grow from seed, healthy and vigorous and more to the point don’t need much attention from the gardener.
What’s not to love?

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Looking Good 1st July

I saw a stunning planting combination today that I wanted to share with you. I wish I could say that this was in my garden. But it’s not… it’s in a neighbourhood garden. Who would have thought that bright pink and yellow could look so good together? The pink flowers with silver foliage are Lychnis coronaria and the yellow spires are Verbascum nigrum. Both are very easy to grow from plants bought from your local nursery or garden centre or they can be grown from seeds. Sowing seeds is the best option if you want a lot of plants to create an amazing display like this.

Verbascum&Lychnis-Collage

I love the pinky purple haired stamens at the centre of each tiny Verbascum flower which picks up the vivid pink of the Lychnis petals.

Verbascum-IG

Unlike most other Verbascums this one doesn’t have silver felted leaves but softly hairy green leaves.

Verbascum&Lychnis

Bees and Hoverflies love this Verbascum as it is rich in nectar and pollen… and so does the Mullein Moth. If you grow a patch of these it’s likely you’ll attract flocks of Goldfinches to feed on the seeds in autumn. It makes sense to grow plenty! Strictly speaking Verbascum nigrim is a short lived perennial but they are often treated as biennials with a fresh batch sown each summer for flowering next year.

Now is the time to sow biennial seeds.
There are several advantages to growing your own biennials:

  • The amount of flowers they produce is amazing and they are great for cut flowers.
  • Early flowering from April onwards
  • Extremely easy to grow and great for massed planting schemes
  • Inexpensive.You can sow several packet of seeds for the price of just one plant in spring.

    It’s worth planning ahead especially if you are starting a cutting patch or simply improving your spring garden. Early flowering plants such as Honesty, Wallflowers, Foxgloves, Forget-me-Not, Sweet Rocket and Sweet William can be sown this summer as well as Verbascum nigrum. If you have space for a seed bed outdoors they can be sown there and left to grow on until autumn. Alternatively they can be raised in modules then moved to small pots ready for planting out when your summer display is over.

Love GillianSo that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Sowing biennial seeds Woo Hoo! It’s good to have a plan!

You are most welcome to join in with Looking Good this week.

Do you have gardening plans for this weekend? Hope it’s dry for you! Gillian 🙂

 

How to Grow Sweet Peas

Pastel-Sweet-PeasThere 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.

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