Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: flowers

Growing Cleome From Seed for 2018 Colour

Today I sowed seeds of Cleome Spinosa indoors in moist compost. I have white Helen Campbell, Violet Queen and Rose Queen and hope to have all of these striking plants in the back of the borders this year. Although I have put some seeds to start indoors my main plan is to sow the seeds directly into the garden at the end of this month and in early May. Last year was the first time that I grew Cleome and I was blown away by the beauty of the spidery flowers. I only had Violet Queen last year and regretted not having the other colours. Another thing I plan to do this year is to pinch out the central shoot. This happened accidentally last year when the first tall spike snapped off in a strong wind and I was amazed at how many new flower heads grew as a result. Another advantage of this plant is  how easy it is to collect seeds. Last Autumn I scattered quite a lot of seeds, saved from the Violet Queen, around the garden so I am hopeful of new seedlings come May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am hoping that I will never need to sow any more seeds as if this years plants self seed as they should this tropical looking herbaceous plant will become a permanent feature of my summer borders. As this flower is extremely attractive to beneficial insects I shall tell Rob to get some going at the allotment too. Grow Cleome in groups rather that rows or make a big splash of colour with container grown plants.

Nasturtium Jewel of Africa – Tropaeolum

Although last year I grew these seeds from a direct sowing and they performed really well, I have decided to pop some into a plastic egg box today as the weather is extremely cold for the time of year. They are Tropaeolum Jewel Of Africa from Seekay and at 99p for a hundred seeds a good buy. Another plus is that they self seed and so, unless you fancy a different variety, you don’t have to buy seeds more than once. This is a tall growing variety of Nasturtium that produces an abundance of mixed coloured flowers held clear above very attractive variegated foliage. An easy to grow variety that gives a mass of colour.  Eventual height eight feet. This plant caught me by surprise last year by how high it climbed. Laura rigged up a bit of a frame for it by the shed and it romped away. Leaves and flowers are supposed to be edible but I have never risked it. Apparently the flowers and leaves add a peppery taste to salads and are a great garnish. Update 9th April 2018 – These seeds went in on 1st April and are showing through now on the 9th.

Sow seeds in April in cells or pots and cover lightly with compost.

Germinate best with a little heat and should take 10 days.

Harden off prior to planting out after all risk of frost has passed.

Like a light sunny position with well drained soil.

 

 

In my opinion no garden should be without Nasturtium as they carry on and on giving and the bees love them too.

 

 

Meconopsis Betonicifolia and Alba – Himalayan Blue & White Poppy 2018

I have today received fifty seeds of Meconopsis Betonicifolia from Premier seeds for another attempt to get a Himalayan blue poppy into my garden. I have bought seeds and young plants previously but have yet to see a blue poppy. This year I have bought seeds of the white variety, Alba, too. I have put the seeds in to the fridge for stratification and will leave them there for 14 days. Its 21st March today so I can sow them all on the 5th April. The blue seeds have been sown today, 8th April 2018, some on the surface of a large pot and some into the gravel garden.

A perennial poppy originating from the Himalayas, famous for its unique blue flowers. Requires a shaded cool position in moist soil in order to thrive. Can be tricky to successfully propagate and cultivate. Height: 2-3′. The seed must be stratified seed for 14-21 days in the fridge in order to break the seeds dormancy. Sow between Jan -Mar in good free draining seed compost with a high grit content covering the seed only with a finest sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Acclimatise to outdoor conditions in late spring and plant out when a good size in a shaded position with deep, moist soil 18-24in apart. Protect from slugs and snails when young.

 

Loved both for their flowers and their seeds Poppies come from a range of families. the best known of these, Meconopsis, includes the Himalayan Blue Poppy and Welsh Poppy, while the Papavear family includes the Iceland poppy and Oriental Poppy.

There are both annual and perennial types. The perennial poppies include the Himalayan blue poppy. Plants can be grown from seed and will flourish in pots or containers as well as naturalised into the garden.

Poppy seeds do not need to be deeply planted, most varieties need light to germinate so a lightly cover at best is all that is required. Sow poppy seeds during early autumn or early spring, when germination may take place in 14 to 30 days at 70F, however the seeds will germinate erratically and should be pricked out as they become large enough to handle, individually into 3 inch pots or as groups in 5 inch pots. Poppy plants do not transplant particularly well they are very sensitive to root disturbance so be very careful when potting on or use coir cells which can be planted into the final position without disturbing the roots. Grow on until the pots are full of roots and plant into the garden or patio after the last frost. Poppies need spacing at about 12-14 inches. Most poppies prefer sun but will tolerate semi shade. Take care when watering to avoid washing away seeds or any new shoots. Misting is best.

The Hardy Himalayan Blue poppy – Meconopsis Betonicifolia is a beautiful, short-lived perennial coveted by gardeners for its striking, large blue flowers. It can reach an overall height of 1.2m and grows from a rosette of hairy, oblong leaves. Erect leafy stems are produced from the base and bear a succession of clear blue poppy like flowers 8-10cm in width with contrasting yellow stamens. It was discovered by Lt. Col. Frederick Marshman Bailey in 1912 during the course of an  exploration of the Tsangpo river gorge in Tibet. Bailey pressed a single bloom in his wallet and several weeks later sent it to David Prain, the Director of Kew Gardens.  On the evidence of this single tattered specimen Prain believed that Bailey had found an entirely new species of Asiatic poppy and named it in his honour – Meconopsis baileyi.

 

8th April 2018 I have sown seeds of Corn Poppy White Bridal Silk. These look so beautiful I hope that they will establish well in the garden. I have sown them directly into the garden. I bought the seeds from Premier Seeds. Corn Poppy Papaver Rhoeas White Bridal Silk is a new stunning introduction to the well known Red Field Corn Poppy. The pure white colour with tissue paper like petals make beautiful displays if sown in drifts. The flowers can reach 20 Inches tall. I can’t wait.

  • Surface sow sparingly in a sunny location with well drained soil from late summer to very early spring.
  • The seed needs the winter cold to break its natural dormancy.
  • For best results the variety need recently disturbed soil in order to get established.
  • Germinates in early spring as the soil warms.
  • Readily self-seeds.
  • Benefits from being cut short in late summer after seeding.

 

 

 

 

 

Vinca Mediterranean XP Mix – Madagascar Periwinkle

I ordered these seeds from Seekay not realising that there would only be ten in the packet. Not much room for grower error. This variety of Vinca is said to be ideal for container growing. The plants grow 10 – 15 cm in height with a spreading, trailing habit. Mediterranean mix has a good range of colours from red to pure white. The plants should flower from late spring to late summer. Having read the instruction I have decided to plant the seeds singly into 3″ pots rather than a tray so cutting out the need to move them. These ten seeds have gone in today, 9th March 2018. I have used 3″ pressed card pots so that I can put the whole thing directly into the garden soil when they are big enough.

Cultivation

  • Sow the seeds in March – April.
  • The seeds should be sown on the surface of a good quality moistened seed compost
  • Cover the seeds lightly with Vermiculite and maintain a temp of 24 – 27 deg C. (this is best done in a propagator as temps are very important)
  • Keep compost moist but not waterlogged.
  • Germination will occur in 1 – 2 weeks
  • Once large enough to handle pot on into 3″ pots prior to planting out in to their final position.

 

 

Scabious – Scabiosa Atropurpurea Beaujolais Bonnets T&M

Last year we went on a visit to Ashwood Nurseries and Laura couldn’t resist buying a packet of T&M Scabious seeds, Beaujolais Bonnets. We had discovered a blue version of this lovely herbaceous perennial amongst some wild flowers grown from a mixed packet she received free from RSPB. We repotted it into a large pot and it is showing signs of regrowth even now in the snow. Our plan is to top up the compost in last years pot and sow the new seeds in there.


Scabiosa Butterfly Blue is a Lovely, lavender blue, pincushion like flower blooming from July to September, held on delicate stems above clumps of lance shaped, grey green leaves this long flowering blue scabious is ideal for a sunny, well drained rock garden or container planting. As its name suggests, the charming pincushion like flowers are highly attractive to butterflies and they make very pretty additions to fresh and dried flower arrangements.

 

 

Found by chance in a Suffolk garden, this showy Scabious produces large, burgundy pincushion flowers surrounded by an outer collar of raspberry pink petals. Scabiosa Atropurpurea Beaujolais Bonnets is a variety with tall stems that stand above other perennials. The nectar rich blooms are loved by pollinating insects. A first class perennial for cottage garden borders that will also provide you with some fabulous cut flowers.

 

 

Scabiosa Caucasica was introduced into Britain in 1803 after seed collected from the Caucasus was sent to the Hackney nurseryman George Loddiges. In the wild it is found in cool meadows and in the garden this plant seems to peak once the heat of summer starts to wane. Clive Greaves is a selected seedling originally grown by market gardener James House, who ran a successful nursery near Bristol. The House family had previously named a white form Miss Willmott in honour of Ellen Willmott who gardened at Warley Place in Essex. They also developed their own seed strain, usually known as House’s hybrids, which are still available from Thompson & Morgan as young plants and seeds. The first scabious ever introduced was the small flowered Scabioisa Atropurpurea in 1591. This species comes from warmer areas of southern Europe. Often sultry and dark, it was given the common name Mournful Widow.

All scabious prefer well-drained soil and a sunny position. They dislike cold, wet winters. A top dressing of grit in October will aid surface drainage. However they also hate hot, humid weather and do best in temperate conditions. Dead head regularly to promote further flowering. Scabiosa are easy to care for and require little maintenance. Rainfall is normally all the water they need however they will require supplementary water during prolonged dry periods. They require no fertiliser as the addition of compost will suffice. It is recommended that you deadhead spent flowers to encourage further blooming whilst providing a vital tidy up. Divide and replant in fresh soil every 2-3 years to maintain vigour. Attractive to bees and butterflies. Hardy perennial.

Sweet Pea – Lathyrus – 2018

Last years Sweet Peas were very disappointing with very few flowers. I have put all the seeds left from last year, Mammoth Mix,  into a deep pot of moist compost and my plan is to buy some fresh seeds too for another go this Summer. The Fresh seed is on order and should arrive tomorrow, weather permitting.

 

The old seeds are showing signs of germination with five green shoots trying to emerge at 6 days. I found a few more Mammoth mixed today, Monday  5th March, and have put them into a deep pot. I want to start a really good amount this year using all my old seeds and some new. New seeds arrived this afternoon so I sowed about twenty of the Spencer Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill is a slightly scented Spencer type that has the most beautiful deep crimson. well ruffled petals. Update 17th March – Both the old and new seeds are up and the first pot have been pinched out above the second leaves. The Spencer variety germinated very quickly and I am already thinking that I may stick to these in future. Easter Sunday 1st April and after soaking them overnight I have sown 25 more of the Spencer Mixed seeds. The original sowings are outside now and about 2′ tall. I have placed an obelisk around them. Fingers crossed for a good year for Sweet Peas.

 

How To Grow Sweet Peas

  • Growing sweet peas is supposed to be easy. Sow into compost in autumn and overwinter or wait until spring and sow in pots or sow into the ground. Before I sow them I soak the seeds 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. I usually soak overnight, use a good quality compost and sow several seeds about half an inch deep to a pot. Place in a bright position.
  • As the seedlings grow they tend to become tall and leggy. Encourage them to produce side shoots by pinching out the tips. Simply nip off the top of the stem just above a set of leaves. This will make each plant much bushier and more robust. And the more shoots there are the more flowers will be produced.
  • Sweet peas climb by twining their tendrils around whatever they touch so help them to cling to the support you have  provided.
  • Throughout the season you will need to keep them well watered as dry soil will make them go to seed quicker, also deadhead regularly.
  • Towards the end of the season leave the seed pods to mature for collection towards next years flowers.

The Sweet Pea is a flowering plant in the genus Lathyrus in the family Fabaceae and is native to Sicily, Cyprus, southern Italy and the Aegean Islands. It is an annual climbing plant growing to a height of 1–2 metres where suitable support is available. A perennial variety is also available but although these plants are stronger the flowers are smaller. However, they do have a place in the garden as do the knee high and basket varieties. I feel the annual Sweet Pea is best for cut flowers and scent.

 

Echinacea Mixed – Cone Flower

Echinacea is a genus, or group of herbaceous flowering plants in the daisy family. The Echinacea genus has nine species, which are commonly called coneflowers. They are found only in eastern and central North America, where they are found growing in moist to dry prairies and open wooded areas. They have large, showy heads of composite flowers, blooming from early to late summer. The generic name is derived from the Greek word meaning hedgehog, due to the spiny central disk. These flowering plants and their parts have different uses. Some species are cultivated in gardens for their showy flowers. Echinacea purpurea is used in folk medicine. We already have a few roots of Cone Flower in the garden and Laura bought three more roots of mixed colours today. These flowers can grow quite tall and so are better placed at the back of the border.

 

Geranium Pratense Striatum Splish Splash

Geranium Pratense Striatum Splish Splash is an unusual sport of the native meadow cranesbill. The white flowers are randomly splashed and spotted with violet. No two flowers are ever the same. Some petals can be completely blue but overall the effect is usually paler rather than darker. Earlier flowers tend to be paler . Makes a sturdy upright  plant providing interest and colour in early summer. Equally at home in the border or wild garden. Laura bought a root of this interesting variety from Wilkos for £2. They are ready for planting out now and should flower from June until September. This plant is best placed at the front or middle of the border as it spreads and can grow up to a foot tall.Once established it is a hardy plant and needs to be kept tidy.

 

 

 

White Peony

Peonies, sometimes referred to as Paeonia are a luxury perennial plant which produces large flowers each year and actually increases the number of flowers it produces as the plants mature. One of the timeless delights of late spring and early summer, peonies become like old friends, utterly dependable and a joy to greet each year. From the moment the red shoots appear in late winter from the swelling of the flower buds and the explosion of flowering  through to the colourful autumn foliage, peonies have a worthy place in any garden.

I have never grown a Peony plant in my own garden but do have a memory of a deep burgundy one that grew year after year in my parents garden. It was beautiful though it had a tendency to flop over when the flowers were in full bloom. I have bought a bare root from Wilkinson’s. It is a pure white but has no variety name on it. It is already showing strong pink shoots so I need to organise somewhere to plant it very soon. I shall probably use a large planter so that I can keep it safe from the chickens while it is getting established. Update Friday 26th January – The Peony is in its pot. Planted as directed in rich compost with a sprinkle of plant food.

Dahlia – Pompon Snowflake & Decorative Crazy Love

We paid a visit to Wilkos on this very snowy morning with the intention of buying a cat carrier. I came back with my first flower buy of this year in the form of a Dahlia Tuber. White Dahlia Pompon Snowflake. According to the package these Pompom Dahlias produce fabulous double spherical blooms and so I am looking forward to seeing them in my garden this year. Each flower head is made up of layers of silky, inwardly curved petals creating a perfectly formed sphere. Tall sturdy stems provide excellent support and give the pompon its iconic habit of bobbing in the breeze. Dahlias are quite easy to grow requiring only  well-drained soil and a sunny position. The advice is to dig in manure or compost and top with general purpose fertiliser for best results. Dahlias are invaluable for the summer border, in patio containers or as cut flowers, often flowering until the first frosts. Flowering from July to October these plants can reach a height of 3′. I have grown Dahlias before many years ago at the allotment but this one looks spectacular. I plan to plant these tubers in a large container in March, weather permitting.

I have planted the Dahlias is a large pot of multi purpose compost. Along with Snowflake I have planted another decorative Dahlia called Crazy Love. This looks a beautiful flower with white pointy petals edged with lilac. Dahlia tubers can be planted outside after frost or started off in pots in late winter to early spring. Allow enough room between each tuber so the plants can grow and spread to their full size without being over crowded. I am trying to keep the compost moist whilst the pot is still indoors and already bright green shoots are appearing through the soil. I can’t wait to see them in flower. These tubers have both put on lots of fresh green leaves and I am putting them out into the garden but bringing them in every time there is risk of frost. This weekend is Easter and we have been promised snow and low temperatures.

While in growth provide a high nitrogen liquid feed each week in June then a high-potash fertiliser each week from July to September. Stake with canes if it becomes necessary. Dead head regularly to encourage more and bigger flower heads. In mild areas, leave them in situ over winter but protect the crown with a generous layer of mulch. In colder areas lift and clean the tubers once the first frosts have blackened the foliage and allow them to dry naturally indoors. Then place the dry tubers in a shallow tray just covered with slightly moist potting compost, sand or vermiculite and store in a frost free place until planting out again.