Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: Higgledy

Favourite Flower 2017 – Didiscus

The growing season is at an end and after long consideration I have chosen my favourite flower from the new seeds that I have never grown before. I have gone for Didiscus for its beautiful form and colour. It is still in flower now at the end of October. This plant is aptly named as it is indeed disc shaped and both flower and foliage are lacy. The seeds I bought are mixed colours but the only one to perform for me was the beautiful blue. This years flowers are still blooming and although I scattered a few seeds in the pot I think the chickens have already taken them. I have brought the pot indoors and sown a few more seeds. After a long chicken less interval I have introduced five chickens into the garden and so must now learn to think differently about seedlings. I had sown a pot of Cerinthe too and they should be showing through but as there is no sign of life I can assume that the chickens ate those tasty new seedlings too. I look forward to many years of enjoying this self seeding gem.

 

Cerinthe Major Purpurascens – Honeywort

I haven’t grown these plants before and they first came to my attention whilst watching an episode of Life in a Cottage Garden. Carole Klein was extolling their virtues and showing us how to start them from seed. The plant, fully grown in her own garden, looked enormous but I decided then that I musts give them a try. I have put just two seeds into a little tepid water to soak and plan to sow them tomorrow, 6th February. The individual seeds are quite big. I bought mine from Higgledy at £1.99 for 10 seeds. There were actually 12 in the packet. Germination should be about two weeks. First seedling through after 8 days.

Cerinthe is a beautiful hardy annual. It has oval, fleshy blue-green leaves, mottled with white, and rich purple-blue, tubular flowers held inside sea blue bracts. Bees love it. For early blooms sow in pots indoors in early spring. Alternatively sow outdoors in April. Once introduced into the garden, self-sown seedlings will mean that it rarely disappears. information from BBC site.

Phacelia Tanacetifolia – Fiddleneck

I’m having another look at the free seeds, Phacelia, sent to me by Higgledy. They sound very interesting. Today, 2nd February, 20 seeds sprinkled onto moist compost and covered lightly. They don’t need much heat so I shall pop the tray on to the window ledge and cross my fingers. These seeds are sold at £1.95 for 1000. 29th April – I have four of these seedlings looking good and today have sowed another batch.

Lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers, which are laden with nectar, form in densely-packed clusters on sturdy stems and attract bees and other beneficial insects. The flowers will last well after being cut. The fast growing foliage will help suppress weeds and makes an attractive groundcover. Scorpion weed can also help to enrich the soil. They self-seed freely. From early spring, sow into small pots filled with good seed compost and initially protect with a cold frame or unheated greenhouse. Pinch out the growing tips to encourage bushier growth and harden off before planting out. Alternatively sow direct in autumn into a sunny, well-prepared seed bed. Easy to grow, if you do not want the plants to set seed, remove the spent flowers as they fade.

Phacelia is often called by its common name of Scorpion Flower due to its drooping ‘tail’, our cousins across the water refer to it as Fiddle Neck for the same reason. I rather like this name but sadly we have a weed of that name so in the interests of clarity I will avoid its use. It is an annual flower and an easy one to grow at that. The flower itself is a cracking lavender colour and also, unusually for an annual, has a sweet scent. Couple these wonderful qualities with the fact that it seems to flower all summer long…lasts ages in the vase and has good strong stems, then you can see why I think it makes a fabulous cut flower worthy of a coveted place in the Kingdom of Higgledy. Benjamin from Higgledy’s words and pictures. I’m sold.

 

Cleome Spinosa – American Spider Flower

Cleome Violet Queen will be the next seeds to go into some damp compost. These half hardy annuals were £1.99 for 200 from Higgledy who recommend sowing between January and March indoors. Best sown on the surface of moist compost and can take up to four weeks to germinate. I shall sow just twenty of them tomorrow 19th January. It seems that these plants can grow as high as six feet so I shall have to be careful where I put them. Eye catching and strongly scented, the deep violet flowers and palm like leaves of this beautiful plant will add a tropical look to the late summer garden. so say the people at Crocus.com. Twenty tiny seedling are now fighting for survival on the window ledge. Germination was great at 100% and took only ten days!. Let’s see if I can get them through to flowering.

Cleome spinosa Violet Queen is a sumptuous purple, which looks good with almost anything, particularly good with verbenas, dahlias and sunflowers. Cleomes are an elegant, very long lasting annual,  flowering longer than all the other half-hardies. Sow early. The only downside to Cleomes are their thorns. Information from the Sarah Raven site.

I have bought new seeds from Seekay of two other colours of this beautiful flower. On doing a bit of research I see that I can sow these directly in the ground now, May/June so I am looking forward to doing just that. The two new varieties are Helen Campbell, White and Rose Queen, a subtle pink.

Despite it’s recent revival in popularity Cleome hassleriana ‘Rose Queen’ is actually an heirloom flower having been grown in gardens since 1817. A beautiful variety with deep, rose-pink flowers that fade to light pink. The large, open, airy flowers have a strong scent and bloom throughout the summer until frosts.  Eye-catching spidery flowers and palm-like leaves add a tropical look to the late summer garden. Cleome are very easy to grow are generally free of pests and considered drought tolerant. Despite that fact they grow their best in moist but well drained soil and full sunlight. The spidery flowers make attractive cut flowers and the seed heads can be dried and added to bouquets.  Frost and cold winds are lethal to this elegant South American annual. If you wish to start them early in the year do so under glass and only plant out after the danger of frosts has passed. Sow indoors in April or outdoors May to June. Cleome like good light levels and germinate quickly if sown quite late. Start them in April or early May. If planted too early the seeds will not germinate and may rot. Sow indoors 4 to 6 weeks before last frost, or sow directly where they are to flower after all danger of frost has passed.

Cleome is a genus of annual flowering plants with 170 species. Cleomaceae are a small family of flowering plants in the order Brassicales comprising about 300 species in 10 genera. Cleome are native to southern South America. This heirloom flower has been grown in gardens since 1817. The genus name Cleome is derived from an ancient name of a mustard like plant, in reference to its seed pods. The species hassleriana is named after Emile Hassler 1864-1937 a Swiss botanist and plant collector. The synonym Spinacia is taken from the Latin spina, meaning a prickle or thorn. Because of their unique flower clusters, these blossoms got the nickname spider flower. Although most flowers have a multitude of meanings cleome one. An old-fashioned expression that asks the recipient to elope or run away with the giver.

The white Cleome Spinosa Helen Campbell looks good in large drifts on its own or intermingled with white cosmos Purity. It’s 16th May and a warm rainy day so I am about to go and sow seeds of both in the white border. The advice is to put seeds on the surface of the soil as they need light to germinate.

 

Sweet Pea Beaujolais – Higgledy

This morning the seeds from Higgledy arrived with a very clear explanation for the delay in delivery. They were well packed and look of good quality. First to sow will be ten Sweet Pea Beaujolais They are sitting in a little warm water to soak ready for sowing tomorrow. I received twenty seeds at a cost of £1.99 so more expensive than Seekay. I plan to sow the next ten in March and compare the results. Update – seeds were sown on 19th January and to date, 30th, only four have germinated

Along with a hand written notes Higgledy’s Benjamin enclosed a free packet of Phacelia Tanacetifolia.This plant is completely new to me but I am assured that it attracts bees and hoverflies to the garden so I shall give it a try.

phacelia-tanacetifolia-heritage-farm-600x600

 

 

Sweet Pea Mammoth

Every garden should have Sweet Peas somewhere, they are lovely to look at, smell amazing, last a long time if they are dead headed and, when you’re ready, will provide seeds for next season.

I have grown Sweet Peas often over the years with mixed success. The best results that I can remember were from seeds bought from Alan Romans, chitted and started off at home then planted around an obelisk at the allotment. This year I have bought seeds from Seekay and from Higgledy so it will be interesting to see which seeds perform best. Both are Mammoth Mixed. The Seekay seeds were delivered quickly but the Higgledy haven’t arrived yet.  My plan is to grow some at home in the garden and some at the allotment.

Today, Saturday 14th January 2017, I am swishing ten seeds in a little warm water to soften the outer shell. I shall sow them tomorrow or Monday. Five each to a small pot of compost, It’s a start. Update:- It’s been a rainy grey Sunday but the ten Sweet Pea seeds are in their pots and ten more are soaking. Another ten seeds went into the compost today, Monday 16th January. update 20th January The first pot sown 15th Jan are pushing through today. 5 days to germinate as promised by Seekay seeds. All three pots are through now and the single pot of Beaujolais are pushing through too. 26th Jan.

Growing sweet peas couldn’t be easier. You can sow them into small pots of compost in Autumn and overwinter the young plants in a cold frame or cool greenhouse.  Alternatively you can wait until Spring and start planting your sweet peas in pots, or sow directly into the ground.

Before you sow them soak in tepid water to rehydrate them. It helps them get off to a quicker start but it isn’t essential as they will still germinate well in moist compost. If you soak them overnight you will notice that they swell up and turn a lovely chestnut colour. Use a good quality compost and sow several sweet pea seeds to a pot. Sow them about 1cm deep, cover the seed with compost and water them well. If sowing Sweet Pea seed seems like too much effort you could always buy sweet pea plug plants. Place them in a bright position and when the shoots appear keep an eye out for slugs as they love young sweet pea shoots. Information from Sue Sanderson at T&M.