Happy 2018! ‘A gardeners year starts on the 1st of January and ends on the 31st of December’ I have no idea who first made that observation but how right he or she was! Although January is a much quieter time outside, it is a time to contemplate the year to come and to make plans be they grand ones or not so grand ones. To make use of the valuable time whilst on holiday from the day job I have been planning what to plant for the year ahead.
We have a busy year in front of us, as well as growing flowers for our own enjoyment (and our neighbour’s) we will be growing pink Sweet Peas and pink Sweet Williams in time for an anniversary in June for a breast cancer charity that is very dear to us and we will also be growing the flowers for another wedding!
Trying to work out a timeline from planting seeds to flowering is incredibly difficult, not knowing if the weather is going to be kind to us or cruel. Last year we lost all our Delphiniums and Lupins in June in a terrible storm just when they were at their best. Despite having staked them well (or so we thought) the strong gale force winds just tore them to shreds and left us with a pile of wrecked stems. We will have to do better this year.
The Sweet Williams had self-seeded last year and we have hundreds of little seedlings overwintering in the cutting patch and I feel quite confident that we will have lots of flowers by June. We have started to grow some pink Sweet Peas ‘perfume duet’ and ‘painted lady’ for the charity event, having planted the seeds in November. We will plant some more seeds in January.
On Friday 5th January we started preparing some more Sweet Pea seeds, ‘Old Fashioned Mixed’ a mixture of grandiflora types dating back to the 1900’s with a strong heady fragrance and ‘Incense’ which is a heavily scented floriferous climber. We soaked the seeds in tepid water overnight to soften them prior to planting them out the next day. The seeds turned from black to a dark nutty brown colour which we then dried on a piece of kitchen towel and planted them one and a half centimetres deep in seed compost in small plastic pots, three in each pot and watered them in. We have placed them on a window sill where the temperature will not drop below around 15 degrees centigrade to get good germination.
For the wedding which is going to have a blue and white/cream colour scheme we will be growing four different Sweet Pea varieties but will not be planting them for some time yet. These are ‘Swan Lake’, a large pure white lightly scented flower on long stems; ‘Singing the Blues’, a scented climber in shades of blue; ‘Twilight’ in shades of blue and purple and ‘Skylark Mixed’ a mixture of white and blue.
The Sweet Pea seeds that we planted on the 5th of January were already germinating nine days later on the 14th January and by the 19th January (two weeks from planting) they are several inches tall and starting to produce their first leaf.