Growing from seed

Ammi Majus – Queen Anne’s Lace

This year I decided to buy a few more seeds of Ammi Majus but unfortunately I had put the seed packet in my jumper pocket and it ended up in the wash. Disaster. I have put them in a bit of compost but an pretty certain that I have ruined them. I think if I can get just one plant to grow I shall be happy. I last sowed these in 2017 and thought that they would be popping up every year but not much survives in my garden, not even plants like this tough weed-like specimen.

Bishop’s flower, Ammi majus is a superb annual bearing delicate white lacy flowers and attractive ferny foliage. They look good in a mixed herbaceous border. These tall plants do best in well drained soil in sun to partial shade. As Ammi is an annual collect seeds to sow the following year but leave some for the goldfinches which like to eat them in winter.

Ammi Majus

Ammi majus, commonly called bishop’s flower, bullwort, greater ammi, lady’s lace, false Queen Anne’s lace, or laceflower, is a member of the carrot family Apiaceae. The plant is native to the Nile River Valley. Wikipedia

Warning: These plants can cause skin irritation.

Nicotiana Sylvestris – Only The Lonely

I have sown seeds of The Tobacco Plant, Nicotiana today. The seeds were from Seekay Horticultural Supplies. I prepared a deepish box of warm, moist compost and scattered the dust like seed on the top. No need to cover with more compost as it just settles into the soil being so fine. Unbelievably small seeds when you know how large the final plants are. I hope that the seedlings wont mind being transferred into the garden. I may try sowing some directly into the garden when the soil warms up a bit.

  • A Very tall variety of Nicotiana that bears white pendulous scented flowers well above the foliage..
  • Sow from Feb – April.
  • Do not cover the seed.
  • Germination will take between 7 and 20 days
  • When all risk of frost has passed plant out the plants at 3′ apart in a Sunny free draining site
  • info from Seekay.

Mirabilis and Balsam

This morning I have sown seeds of Mirabilis and Balsam that were collected from the garden about three years ago. As I remember they were both large and colourful flowering plants which I thought would self seed. I came across the seeds today so decided to try them. I have listed the links to the original page when I first bought the seeds. Update on 15th March, six days after sowing and good signs of healthy germination.

https://www.citychickens.co.uk/2017/02/27/miribalis-jalapa-marbles-mix/

https://www.citychickens.co.uk/

Annual Climbers 2021

This morning I have sown seeds of a few annual climbers. It is last years seed so fingers crossed that I get some success. I have sown them in some warm moist compost in a deep root trainer sized pot. In actual fact I have sown them in a container that i had left after we had eaten the red grapes. I had two boxes so one has served as a cover.

Asarina Scandens Jewel Mixed

Asarina

This climber is listed as a half hardy annual. The advice is to sow February to March on the surface of moist compost and keep in a warm place. A constant temperature of 20 degrees C is recommended and germination should take place in 21 to 30 days. Do not exclude light. I have a bad feeling that I have pushed these seeds below the surface. I really hope that these are successful as they look beautiful and graceful. They are often referred to as the Snapdragon Vine but they look much more fragile. I may try a second pot of these as I am really taken with them. Update on 15th March. Great excitement today when Laura spotted what looks like one of these in a pot today. It must have been potted on into a seven inch pot and left over the winter. Fingers crossed that it does turnout to be Asarina.

This delicate looking but strong growing vine has graced trellis work and scrambled among summer flowers since Victorian times. Still one of the best long-blooming vines, it thrives and blooms summer to fall, and should be given a trellis to climb early in its growth. Annual; tender perennial. Seed to Bloom: 16 weeks

This tender Mexican native plant needs free draining soil in a full sun. Growth is rapid and requires plenty of nutrients as well as a good support to carry the weight of the plant. wiki

Cobaea Scandens White

Cobaea scandens is said to be a vigorous perennial climber usually grown as an annual. It has pinnate leaves and fragrant, bell-shaped flowers which change from greenish-white to purple. Commonly called Cup and Saucer Vine or Cathedral Bells. NB. The title Scandens indicates a climbing or a creeping species.

Ipomoea Pennata

Cyprus Vine or Morning Glory

Cypress Vine seeds make a beautiful climbing vine that is perfect for a concealing screen over a shabby shed of which I have a few. Cypress Vines it seems are easy and fast growing. The two species seem to have very different foliage so I am excited to see how they turn out.

I have sown both red and Pearly Gates, which is white, and known as Granny’s Vine so should suit me well.  A beautiful climber that produces bright white flowers in the morning throughout the Summer. These look superb when mixed with other ipomoea species. I cant wait. This species is very closely related to Bindweed which although beautiful is considered an invasive weed.

Thunbergia Alata Mix – Black Eyed Susan Vine.

Apparently this climber is fast growing with a mix of orange, yellow and white flowers.   Generally grown as an annual in the UK. Should flower from June to September. 

Thunbergia alata, commonly called black-eyed Susan vine, is a herbaceous perennial climbing plant species in the family Acanthaceae. It is native to Eastern Africa, and has been naturalised in other parts of the world

New Seasons Sowing 2021

Laura and I have been sorting through the seed boxes and listing what seeds we have and when we can start sowing. Laura is ahead of me as she has already sown a few tomatoes and peppers a week or so ago and already has Cosmos seedlings popping through on the window ledge.

Today we have ventured outside and direct sown the end of a couple of packets of flower seeds from last year. There were six seeds of Cosmos Lemonade and a few Anchusa Blue Angel. Fingers crossed. She has placed them in the side garden after loosening the soil a little.

Cosmos Lemonade

cosmos lemonade

This is a beautiful pale yellow cosmos with a central white eye. We sowed a few of these last year but had very few flowers. We are hoping that they self seeded last year so live in hope. This should be early flowering and a little shorter that the usual cosmos.

Anchusa Blue Angel

Blue Angel

These were another no show last year so we are using up all the seeds left in the packet and have inter sown them with the Cosmos. If we are lucky and get a few good plants they will hopefully seed themselves. The colour looks amazing so should look good interspersed with the lemon of the cosmos.

Dierama – Angels with fishing rods.

Dierama

I have sown seeds of these and covered the seed box with cling film. They are slow to germinate apparently. A selection of purple, red, pink and pale pink forms so I have no idea what colour they will turn out to be. I have sown just four seeds. . Bred by a nursery situated near and named after the highest of the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down, Ireland – Slieve Donard.

Cephalaphora Aromatica

cephalaphora

Yellow pom pom flowers with pale green foliage. This unusual plant has a sweet apple fragrance. This is a new one on me but I think Laura tried a few last year. They are in a module tray and I shall keep them in the warm in the computer room.

Tomato Yellow Pear

tomato yellow pear

My contribution to the tomato collection. I have grown these before but not since I lost the allotment I don’t think. Pear tomato or teardrop tomato is the common name for any one in this group of indeterminate heirloom tomatoes. They are very sweet and lovely to eat right off the plant in a warm greenhouse. Tomatoes prefers acidic soil to thrive and benefit from fertiliser when starting to fruit. A very good link providing loads of growing tips is listed below.

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/tomato/yellow-pear-tomato-care.htm

Rudbeckia Gloriosa

These were the last of my sowings today. I sowed a few in each module and have covered them with cling film. Laura loves all daisies so I hope these germinate well for her. She grew quite a few last year so they may well pop up again in the borders. Neither of us could resist pushing a few Nasturtium seeds into the ground and I also popped a few in a module tray. That’s all the sowing for today so its back to reality after that bit of play time.

Growing Snakeshead Fritillaria From Seed

I have planted bulbs of Snakeshead before several times to no avail. Last year I bought another bag of bulbs from Wilko. Only one flower popped up last year. which was encouraging, so we left it in the same large pot and this year we were blessed with about five flowers which have now gone to seed and all but two had popped and cast their seeds to the wind. The remaining seed heads had many seeds inside so Laura has sown some in a tray and I have kept a few in order to research how to grow these beautiful and endangered wildflowers from seed.

grasslike seedlings

We are hoping that this years plants, having already scattered their seed to the wind, will grow on for us next Spring so as with all gardening its a waiting game now. The undisturbed bulbs should multiply too so fingers crossed.

Fritillaria seed ripens in mid to late summer and is best sown as soon as ripe or soon after in autumn. While older seed may still be viable it develops germination inhibitors that can make late sowings germinate erratically. In the wild Fritillaria spreads its seed by wind dispersal and seeds germinates on the surface of the ground. When sowing at home it is best to sow the seed on the surface of gritty compost and not bury it.

Water the seeds and place in a cool, sheltered place out of doors such as in a cold frame. Fritillaria seed requires a period of cold to stratify before germination so the pots can be left outdoors through the winter until they germinate which is usually in the Spring. Check the seed regularly for any germination and remove immediately to a bright place.

Once germinated keep the pot in a sunny position and keep watered throughout the growing season until the seedlings start to die down for their summer dormancy. By the end of the first year the baby bulbs will be small and difficult to handle so it’s better not to pot them on until the end of their second year. A typical Fritillaria will probably take 5 to 6 years from sowing to flowering.

Snakeshead Fritillaria

https://www.citychickens.co.uk/?s=snake+in+the+grass&searchsubmithttps://www.citychickens.co.uk/?s=snake+in+the+grass&searchsubmit

The snake’s head fritillary is one of the most exquisite jewels in the treasure house of British wildflowers with a long list of common names which include Checkered Daffodil, Chess Flower, Frog-cup, Leper lily and Guinea-hen Flower. The bell-shaped flowers are unmistakable for their nodding heads, sometimes of pure white, or more frequently marked with a delicate chequerboard pattern in shades of purple. This rare British wildflower is now protected in its native meadows, but will always attract attention in a woodland garden, rockery, or naturalised in grass .

The white form of this rare British native is rarely found in the wild. It flowers from March to May growing to between 15 and 40 cm in height. In the wild it is commonly found growing in grasslands in damp soils and river meadows and can be found at altitudes up to 800 metres, although it takes readily to garden culture where it makes a superb border plant.

.https://www.plant-world-seeds.com/store/view_seed_item/2315

White Snakeshead
Seedheads

Aquilegia vulgaris Collection Columbine

Over the years I have gathered quite a few varieties of Aquilegia Vulgaris from the very first seeds given to me many many years ago by my Sister-in-law Janice who had gathered them from her Mothers garden one Autumn. Her mother has long gone but I think of her often when these flowers start to bloom.

Just like Joyce these flowers are hardy and no nonsense. They look after themselves and pop up year after year to bring colour to the garden. There are so many varieties and hybrids so my wish list is very long.

You can start Columbine flowers from seeds or buy young plants. Seeds should be sown throughout spring. The seeds need light to germinate so simply press them on the soil surface and lightly cover with soil. Germination is about 30 days and because Aquilegia is a perennial it will take two years from planting the seeds for them to bloom.

Most varieties of Columbine plants will bloom for at least four weeks. They look delicate but are tougher than they appear. They tend to be short-lived perennials but self seed and spread bringing pleasure and colour to your garden for years.

Varieties of Columbine include dwarf varieties that are just 6 inches tall as well as large varieties that are more than 3 feet tall with large flowers. Keep in mind that Aquilegia varieties readily cross-pollinate. If you plant more than one variety be prepared to see new colors and combinations.

Aquilegia is a genus of about 60–70 species of perennial plants that are found in meadows, woodlands, and at higher altitudes throughout the Northern Hemisphere, known for the spurred petals of their flowers. The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because of the shape of the flower petals, which are said to resemble an eagle’s claw. The common name “columbine” comes from the Latin for “dove”, due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together.

Aquilegia Vulgaris William Guiness

Also, known as Magpie, this variety has purple-black flowers with contrasting white centres in late spring and early summer above fern-like, mid-green leaves. The unusual flowers of this old fashioned columbine creates an eye-catching display. The plant self seeds freely.

Aquilegia William Guiness

Aquilegia Vulgaris Pink Flamingo

This is a large flowering pink variety. Appearing in late Spring it is a new columbine variety. Coming quite true from seed it should be planted away from other Aquilegia with which it could hybridise.

Aquilegia Pink Flamingo

Aquilegia Vulgaris Crystal Star

Aquilegia Crystal Star is a long spurred aquilegia with pure white flowers. A cottage garden favourite and an excellent and unusual cut flower possessing a clean crisp bright whiteness. “This has to be one of the easiest and most rewarding Perennials available producing masses pure brilliant white flowers with stunning spurs”. so says the company that I bought the seeds from so I hope so as this is the first year that I have sown them and I am hoping for them to become a permanent presence in the garden.

Aquilegia Vulgaris Blue Bird

From the Songbird series this blue Aquilegia is one of my favourite flowers in the garden. Such a perfect blue.

The songbird series is a range with compact habit and very large flowers with bright clean flower colours. A clump-forming perennial which forms a basal rosette of foliage and from May to July huge flowers with long spurs produced on strong upright stems. Varieties still to add to my collection from the Songbird Series are Goldfinch, Nightingale, Cardinal, Bunting, Early Bird and Chaffinch.

The Songbird hybrid series has a long history that started back in the 1980’s, and it’s story involves at least two breeding programs. The breeders used many species and selections in creating this mix. McKanna Giants formed the foundation of this complex cross. Breeders also reportedly used A. skinneri, A. californica, A. chrysantha, A. canadensis and a number of other strains. It’s a real mix, but is still sold under the botanic name of Aquilegia caerulea, as this remains the primary species used in the strain.

Aquilegia Bluebird

Aquilegia Wild Variety

A perennial often found at woodland edges and roadsides, long stalked with long-spurred blue-violet flowers. This variety grows to a height of 60cm and prefers damp woodland. It flowers during June and July. The foliage is very pretty.

Wild Columbine

Aquilegia Crimson Star

Crimson Star hybrida has striking red and white flowers. Columbines are attractive foliage plants that grow well in fertile soil in the sun or partial to full shade.

Aq Crimson Star

Swiss Chard White Silver

Swiss Chard White Silver

I have sown seeds of white swiss chard today, May 1st, as I came across them whilst looking for herbs. Swiss Chard is a favourite of mine that we grew every year at the allotment. It is a very giving plant and needs very little maintenance once established. It is a member of the beet family. When we visited the allotment after being away for a whole year the chard was still there looking as healthy and inviting as ever. Day 7 and a few green shoots have appeared in the Chard pot. Potted on today 24th of May.

The variety of chard that I had seeds of is White Silver which has wide white stems. The early leaves can be used in salads. Later, use the tops as you would use spinach. Treated as a separate vegetable the stems can be sliced and cooked in boiling water and eaten with butter, salt and pepper – simple, tender and tasty.

I prefer to chop the whole stem and leaf and toss it in the pan with a little oil and lemon juice. Put the sliced stem in first and cook a little before adding the leaf as it takes a little longer to soften whereas the leaf wilts very quickly. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Perfect beside fish or steak.

Swiss Chard White Silver

White Silver is a classic Swiss Chard with thick white stems and glossy, rich green leaves. With an RHS Award of Garden Merit, this robust leaf beet is a versatile addition to the vegetable plot or even the flower border. Baby leaves can be used in salads while the juicy, mature stems can be chopped and steamed, or used to add a sweet crunch to stir-fries. Mature leaves can be used as a delicious spinach substitute. Sow Swiss Chard ‘White Silver’ up until August for cropping into the New Year. Thompson&Morgan.

Swiss Chard

Finally, Swiss Chard is very good for you being naturally low in calories and carbohydrates but very high in Vitamins K, A and C. A diet rich in a variety of vegetables and fruits has been shown to lower heart disease risk factors, Swiss chard is an excellent source of potassium, calcium and magnesium, minerals that help maintain healthy blood pressure. There is also current research that indicates that these leafy greens can actually lower LDL cholesterol.

Herbs – Parsley, Sage and Thyme

Inspired by Gardeners World I have sown a pot of mixed herbs. Just one large pot. The lady on TV had plenty of ready grown herbs and was potting them up into a large container. Expensive, instant herb garden. I only had a ten-inch pot and a few old seed packets plus a new bag of multi-purpose compost. I have searched through my seedbox and I don’t have any Rosemary seeds to make up the foursome.

The seeds are sown and now on the window ledge. I have watered them and enclosed the pot in a polythene bag to preserve the moisture. I estimate that germination should take place between two and four weeks.

Sage Broad Leaved

The perennial broad leaved variety of Sage that I have sown takes a little longer to germinate. I have grown this variety before at the allotment and as I remember it formed a beautiful shrubby bush with downy grey-green leaves and purple flowers. The taste is strong and distinctive and the aroma is wonderful. I will be happy if I manage to get one bush for the garden as the seeds are quite old.

The leaves of this herb are usually mixed with onion and breadcrumbs to make a delicious stuffing for pork or chicken. However, its unique taste and aroma enhance the flavour of many dishes.

Sage

Only seven days have passed and already many green shoots have appeared.

Parsley Italian Giant

Parsley comes in two main types, flat leaved and curly leaved. The seeds I had are of a flat-leaved variety and are the ones I prefer to use in cooking. The variety that I have sown is Italian Giant. This parsley has a distinctive flavour and is good with fish, salads and soups. It is easy to grow indoors or outdoors, as it is very hardy with good frost resistance.

Flat Parsley

Thyme English Winter

The variety of Thyme I have sown is English Winter. Thymus Vulgaris is a hardy evergreen perennial with dark green leaves that are followed by clusters of small pink flowers. This herb hails from the Mediterranean and can be picked all year round. The active ingredient in the leaves is Thymol which lends the herb its strong flavour and antiseptic properties. Thyme is used in cooking to flavour meat and stews. It is the classic herb used in bouquet garni and enhances the taste of most meats.

Thyme

In addition to livening up the flavour of food, the thyme plant is also the source of thyme essential oil. Thyme oil has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It is commonly used as a preservative in foods, cosmetics, and toiletries.

Zinnia Elegans – Sowing Seeds

Zinnia is a genus of plants of the sunflower tribe within the daisy family. They are native to scrub and dry grassland in an area stretching from the Southwestern United States to South America, with a centre of diversity in Mexico. Wikipedia

For early flowers Zinnia seeds can be sown under glass in early spring. Fill a seed tray or pot with compost and cover with a sprinkling of vermiculite or compost. Water moderately and when the seedlings are large enough to handle pot on and harden off before planting outside.

Alternatively, sow seeds thinly a quarter of an inch deep in a sunny bed in the garden. Wait until after all risk of frost has passed. Germination should take place in 7-14 days.

Zinnia are perfect for cut flowers. They should flower from early June until the first frost. I am going to try to sow them directly into the border this year. They like a sunny but sheltered position and once germinated don’t like to be moved. I have seeds of both Green Envy and Polar Bear.

Green Envy – The colour of this summer blooming annual Zinnia is a bright chartreuse green and acts as a wonderful foil to richer shades.

Zinnia elegans ‘Envy’

Polar Bear – A bright white double flower that shines out in the border.

Zinnia Polar Bear

Save seeds at the end of the season and in a couple of generations of seeds you will have developed your own strain of zinnia naturally selected to perform well in your conditions. Simply clip off a dried flower head from each flower type that you want to save. Pull the flower apart and remove the seeds inside or simply put the whole blossom full of seeds into an envelope. Seal and identify the flower colour. Keep the seeds in a cool, dry place until it is time to plant next year.