Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: seeds

Felicia Amelloides Marguerite – Blue Kingfisher Daisy

This year Laura has introduced a new little gem to our flower collection in the form of a South African,  groundcover Marguerite. As well as being a pretty blue flower, the foliage is attractive and seems sturdy. Apparently although Felicia has a somewhat fragile appearance, this durable, pest-resistant plant requires little maintenance. Once the plant is established and shows healthy new growth an occasional watering is sufficient. Water deeply to saturate the roots then let the soil dry before watering again. Deadhead regularly to prevent the plant from going to seed for as long as possible. Prune the plant lightly when it begins to look tired in midsummer. The fluffy seed heads appear as late as November and can be collected or left to self seed. The common name of this little beauty is the Blue Kingfisher Daisy. I like it.

 

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.

 

Seed Collecting and Bulb Planting

I have quite a lot of bulbs already in the garden both in the ground and in pots. However I couldn’t resist a few more and have bought some single snowdrops, Russian Snowdrops and Iris bulbs. Now I have to decide where to plant them. My other hesitant purchase was English Bluebells. I already have some very old Bluebells in the garden so I must be sure not to plant them too near to each other I think. My garden is quite small but my appetite for flowers is enormous. Laura has also caught the bug and has bought Glory of the snow and Honeybells, a new one to me. Update – Most of the new bulbs are now either in the garden or in pots.

Our other passion has been seed collecting. As well as collecting as many as we can from flowers in the garden, which is very rewarding, we have been known to steal the odd seed head from friends. Whilst watching Gardeners World last week I saw something that made me smile and think, why didn’t I think of that. There was a couple who had dedicated their garden to perennials and wildlife. The lady shocked me when she said when my flowers have gone to seed I simply cut off a stem that has seed heads forming and push it into the ground where I want the flower to grow next season and let nature take it’s course and the seeds gently fall exactly where I want them to grow. Well, it’s so simple I just had to try it out. I tried it with Japanese Anemone, Black Eyed Susan and Verbena Lollipop. I will update this post next year with results.

The Science – A mature seed typically consists of a mature plant ovum containing a minute, partially developed young plant, the embryo, surrounded by an abundant supply of food and enclosed by a protective coat. Plants that seed are divided into two main groups: the gymnosperms, primarily cone bearing plants such as pine, spruce, and fir trees, and the angiosperms, the flowering plants. The gymnosperms have naked ovules which, at the time of pollination, are exposed directly to the pollen grains. Their food supply in the seed is composed of a female gametophyte, rather than the endosperm found in angiosperms.

In angiosperms, seeds develop from ovules that are enclosed in a protective ovary. The ovary is the basal portion of the carpel, typically vase shaped and located at the center of the flower. The top of the carpel, the stigma, is sticky, and when a pollen grain lands upon it, the grain is firmly held. The germinating pollen grain produces a pollen tube that grows down through the stigma and style into the ovary and pierces the ovule.

Two male sperm nuclei are released from the pollen grain and travel down the pollen tube into the ovule. One of the sperm nuclei fuses with an egg cell inside the ovule. This fertilized egg divides many times and develops into the embryo. The second male nucleus unites with other parts of the ovule and develops into the endosperm, a starchy or fatty tissue that is used by the embryo as a source of food during germination. Angiosperm seeds remain protected at maturity. While the seed develops, the enclosing ovary also develops into a hard shell, called the seed coat or testa. 

Japanese Anemone – Honorine Jobert

I have quite a large established group of white Japanese Anemone, which have developed from a couple of cuttings given to me by my Sister Cath about ten years ago. They are a bit crowded in now with a hibiscus tree and a climbing rose so I will try to propagate a few more in pots so that I can tidy up the group. The one I have is a single pure white flower with golden stamens and dark foliage. It looks like the variety called Honorine Jobert.  According to Carole Klein the variety has been around for about 150 years. It was a sport, spontaneous offspring, from the more widespread pale pink Anemone x hybrida, which was raised at the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Chiswick in 1848. The white-flowered sport occurred 10 years later in France on a plant that had been imported from England. Soon afterwards, Anemone ‘Honorine Jobert’ made the trip back across the Channel.

I planned to collect seed heads but even though these plants have been in my garden for so long I had never registered the seeds so I googled to find that the lovely green seed heads evident now will turn to fluffy seed which disperse themselves around the garden. I asked myself why then isn’t my garden covered in these beauties. So, I am now on seed alert as I have read that the transformation happens quickly. Update: I have collected  the seeds today 14th November. I have dropped some here and there in the garden and saved some in a brown paper envelope.

Propagation by division should be done as they start into new growth in the spring. Most nurseries raise more plants by taking roots cutting. Lift the plant in late Autumn and remove some of the thin brown roots. These are cut into sections and laid onto compost before being lightly covered. These can take months to begin to grow. These thread-like roots not only allow the plant to spread, they make it hard to eradicate a plant once it’s established. So make sure you plant your Japanese anemones where you want them as, like oriental poppies, they are difficult to eradicate. Japanese anemones can also be divided as they start into new growth in the Spring. As well as rounded white flowers it also sets seed readily. Each seed head is a little sphere held at the end of a stem. As the heads ripen they expand and their outer surface becomes soft. Eventually they erupt and each seed is carried in its own woolly overcoat to pastures new.

Agapanthus Africanus – Love Flower

I have never grown Agapanthus before. The first time I became aware of them was when my son Sean and his partner Deb came to Adam’s house to create an instantly beautiful garden when Adam received his new wheelchair and wanted to spend time outside. The Agapanthus arrived big and beautiful and smothered in vibrant blue flowers and were put in at eye level for Adam to enjoy along with many other hardy perennials. As Adam became more and more poorly and Winter arrived we spent most of the time indoors. When Adam passed away in February 2016 I came home and eighteen months have passed. On 20th August I went to the house for the twins fifth birthday and went out into the garden to see it very neglected but there were the Agapanthus with a few seed heads still containing very ripe seed. I brought a few seed heads home and was very pleased to find 80 seeds just waiting for me to sow. As I had no growing experience of these plants I had a bit of research to do. The name is derived from the Greek for Love Flower. I have 80 seeds and today, 26th August, I have sown 20 seeds in a module tray of sandy compost with a covering of horticultural grit. Germination should be around 30 days. I have just read another article which advises sowing in March so if the first 20 don’t survive I can try again in Spring.

Apparently there are seven Agapanthus species possibly because they freely hybridise. They are magnificent bulbous plants which produce an unrivalled show of blue when grown well. Their large umbels of blue trumpets are quite unlike anything else. Easily grown in well drained sunny positions. It is essential that the roots do not become waterlogged in Winter. Remember that plants grown in pots are at a risk of freezing whereas the ground usually stays above freezing point especially if the crowns are well protected with a deep mulch. Agapanthus will tolerate being overcrowded which suits them to growing in pots. If they need dividing do this in Spring and do not bury  the plants too deeply. Feed tub specimens liberally from Spring until flower bud are seen. All require full sun so the heads will naturally lean towards the sun. . In New Zealand Agapanthus grow particularly well, so well in fact that they are classified as a pernicious weed whose sale is prohibited.

Aubrieta Royal Blue and Red

Earlier in the year I bought some seeds of Aubrieta from Seekay and the instructions say to sow from June to July. They are very tiny and I don’t want to lose them to insects but I am planning to sow a few directly into the side garden in the hope that they will grow into some strong plants to use around the pond.

Aubrieta is a genus of about 12 species of flowering plants in the cabbage family Brassicaceae. There are six European species and take their name from Claude Aubriet (1688-1743), a French botanical artist. All are found on limestone but some appear on open scree, others in crevices while some crop up in coniferous woodland.  The genus originates from southern Europe east to central Asia but is now  common throughout Europe. It is a low spreading plant, hardy, evergreen and perennial, with small violet, pink or white flowers that grow well amongst rocks and banks. It prefers light, well-drained soil, is tolerant of a wide pH range, and can grow in partial shade or full sun. The technique to keep Aubrieta going year after year is to shear them hard as they finish their display so that they develop a new cushion of tight foliage. Cuttings can be taken, and ideally these need to have three inches of brown stem below the rosette of foliage. The technique is to tug them away with a heel rather than cut them. This can be done in September and October when the cushion of foliage is dense, or in late summer. A cold frame is ideal as it keeps the root cool. Sow seeds in spring.

Arabis Spring Charm – Rock Cress

Arabis is an attractive evergreen perennial which forms a low-growing mat of jagged, hairy grey-green leaves. It produces masses of stunning, sweetly-scented, pure white flowers in March and May. Ideal for using as an edging plant or growing around the base of shrubs, it requires good drainage and will thrive in sun or shade. It can be used to clothe a bank and looks excellent when set off against a backdrop of large rocks making it a great choice for the rock garden. Best cut back after flowering. I scattered a few seeds in the side garden in May and they have already formed nice little plants so I have sown a few more today.

Tomatoes – A Gift From Frank

Following the disaster of germination then loss to the frost and the starting again but with limited success we have been given eight tomato plants by our allotment neighbour Frank. Today I have the job of potting them on into their final pots. Some are familiar and some new varieties to me.

One of the new  varieties is Solanum lycopersicum Harzfeuer and is an open pollinated cultivar. A German variety this beefsteak fruit is acidic and juicy. Harzfeuer grows to a height of 5′. Tomato Idyll is a cocktail tomato variety which produces long clusters of red fruit. The slight red fruit are highly valued for their delicious taste. Gardeners Delight, Sweet Millions, Marmanade and Lemon Pear, Hildares plus one unlabelled are the others.

Tomatoes this year seemed like a lot of work, compost and time for little reward. Maybe I won’t grow them next year.

 

 

 

Coleus Wizard Mix Merlin – Lamiaceae

I bought seeds of Coleus Wizard Mix from Seekay. There are 50 pelleted seeds in a tiny plastic tube and cost 99p. I have had them in the fridge for a week and now plan to put them onto a tray of moist sandy compost in a flat tray and keep them in the light. Wizard Merlin is said to be a good mix of foliage colours with single and double coloured leaves. It is a little late to sow but nevertheless I am going to have a go. Sowing advice says January to May. I will use half and try the other half next January.  I may use some of these in my pots but planned to use them as house plants in the main. The advice is to pinch out growing tips to promote a bushy plant. Coleus are a greenhouse Perennial but are often grown as an annual. The plants prefer a site with deep moist well drained soil in full sun.  My first job is to get them to germinate and make a few decent plants. I have put ten of these seeds to germinate today 12th May. Friday 17th May update…I can see tiny seedlings coming through already at five days.

Coleus is a former genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. The genus is no longer recognized and the species are instead placed in the genera Plectranthus and Solenostemon. Coleus is regarded as a synonym of Plectranthus. The term “coleus” is often used as a common name for the species that are cultivated as ornamental foliage plants . Wiki.

Sweet Pea Cupid Mahogany – Bush Type

Sweet Pea Cupid Mahogany is a bush type ideal for hanging baskets and tubs. It is said to have beautifully perfumed flowers. I have grown Sweet Peas many times before but have never tried an everlasting one or a basket type. It will be interesting to see how these turn out. The Cupid are soaking in tepid water for sowing tomorrow. These seeds are in compost now. They should germinate in seven to fourteen days. Seven days on ands no sign of the seedlings yet. Three out of eight germinated. They will be potted on today 28th May.

It was in Sicily, in Palermo, that a Franciscan monk named Father Cupani first took an interest in what became known as “the scented pea”. He grew it in his monastery garden and in cultivation, its flowers grew half as big again as those that grew wild. In 1699 he sent seed to England and Holland. The flower’s ease of cultivation and willingness to set seed, coupled with its perfume and colour, guaranteed that it was in popular demand and it became widely distributed. information from Carol Klein.