Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: annual

Borage – Borago officinalis – Star Flower

I have grown this interesting plant before when we first took on the allotment. I sowed Borage seeds directly into the end of the bean trench and it grew and grew and grew. Personally I liked it so I have bought new seeds from Higgledy. Rob didn’t like it as it tried to take over the allotment. It is a big plant that attracts bees and other pollinators which is why I think it should have a place in both the garden and the allotment. It does need managing though. Direct sow into the ground in mid April and through May. You can also sow in August for flowers the next spring. It’s 26th April and I am sowing some Borage seed in the side garden today.

Borage, also known as a starflower, is an annual herb in the flowering plant family Boraginaceae. It is native to the Mediterranean region and has naturalized in many other locales. It grows satisfactorily in gardens in the UK climate, remaining in the garden from year to year by self-seeding. The leaves are edible and the plant is grown in gardens for that purpose in some parts of Europe. The plant is also commercially cultivated for borage seed oil extracted from its seeds. Starflower Oil is taken from the Borage officinalis seeds,

 

 

Cornflower – Centaurea Cyanus

Centaurea cyanus, commonly known as cornflower, is an annual in the family Asteraceae, native to Europe. In the past it often grew as a weed in fields of grain. It is now considered to be endangered in its native habitat by over use of herbicides.  I am very familiar with these flowers but haven’t grown them from seed before. I have sown twenty each of Blue Ball and Black Ball, into a tray of moist compost. They shouldn’t need heat but do need light. These Annuals are usually sown directly into the garden in September but I am trying to start a few now. We shall see. 11th Feb – All of the seeds have germinated already after five days. 16th Feb – All potted on. Update = All of these seedlings have keeled over and died. I shall try direct sowing later.

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. Update –  29th April 2017 – I have four of these seedlings looking good and today have sown 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.