January & February 2017
It is that time of the year again, the winter solstice has been and gone and the days are slowly and steadily getting longer. Despite the freezing cold temperatures this January there are signs of Spring all over the garden and we are itching to get going!
The sweet pea seeds planted indoors in pots in November have now been moved from the window sill upstairs to the porch and a second batch of sweet peas, planted at the beginning of January, have taken up residence on the spare room window sill, germination was good and they are all doing well. Another couple of weeks and we will be thinking about planting into pots some of the perennial seeds we purchased last year, perennial Sunflowers, Astrantia and three different varieties of Poppy.
The annual seeds planted out into the cutting patch last September all germinated really well with the exception of Larkspur which failed to germinate not just once but twice, the second batch was also a failure so we will try again. This time we will start them off in pots indoors and hopefully plant them out in April. Apart from the Larkspur all the rest, Ammi Majus, Cornflowers, Nigella and Poppies have survived the winter, the Calendula have survived but are not looking very happy. Most of the annuals in the cold frames are fine but once again the Calendula have not enjoyed this freezing cold weather, down to minus seven on occasion. The Poppies have been so prolific that they have swallowed up the Bupleurum so we will have to start again with them as well.
That’s the beauty of gardening, it is all one big, ever changing experiment, and if something fails then you try something else or try another way. It never gets boring and keeps mind and body working and in good health. The biennials have all survived the winter so far, Wallflowers, Honesty and Sweet William and the established perennials as well.
Planning further along the line we have purchased some new Cosmos seed, ‘Rubies in Sunshine and Xanthos’ and also Cosmos ‘double click’. Our Rudbeckia were so lovely last year that we have bought a dark pink one ‘brilliant star’ to add to our collection.
It’s going to be a wonderful year, can’t wait to get out there!
The last weekend of February has traditionally always been my seed planting weekend. With the weather so cold and wet, I set up my seed trays in the warmth of the kitchen this year.
Having planted my seeds last year straight into three inch pots, this year I have reverted to planting them in to cells in seed trays.
Firstly the annuals. These are the flowers that we grow from scratch every year. The seeds grow into young seedlings, these then get potted on from the cells into three inch plastic pots until they are strong enough to plant out. They then, hopefully grow into strong plants and then die back at the end of the season. We collect seed from them for next year. Hardy annuals can be planted out before the last frost of the season but the more tender annuals need to be protected until the last frost, usually around mid May. Alternatively wait until April and sow the seeds directly into the ground. I always grow them in pots first and then plant them out, that way they flower a little bit earlier.
This year we have planted Cornflowers, Black Ball and Blue Ball; Calendula Indian Prince; Scabiosa Scarlet Wedding; Larkspur Imperials mixed; Bupleurum Rotundifolium, Poppy Peony Black; Poppy Golden West and Blue Tansy. We have also planted seven different varieties of Cosmos; Double Click; Rubies in sunshine (a mix of yellow and red); Candy Stripe; Polidor mixed (mixed shades of orange); Pied Piper and Purity.
Then for the perennials. These will take longer to grow but hopefully will become established plants and come back year after year. This year we are going to grow Astrantia Ruby Cloud; Rudbeckia Brilliant Star; perennial Sunflowers Laetiflorus and three varieties of perennial Poppy; Oriental Dwarf Allegro; Fruit Punch and Coral Reef.