Moving to a new home gave me a blank canvas in a new garden. After some reclamation work on the borders they were ready for planting by Autumn of 2016. I had only the bare bones of a plan and knew I needed to leave plenty of space for those first plants to grow. I also knew that those areas of bare earth would be speedily recolonised by weeds and grass. I mulched the earth with a layer of horse manure and in autumn and late spring sowed a few seeds in trays in a potting shed. Here’s the result. HA = Hardy Annual, HHA = Half Hardy Annual, HHP = Half Hardy Perennial
Sweet Peas HA
A good wigwam of sweet peas is one of my garden essentials. These are Sarah Raven’s Midnight Blue. They are wonderfully scented and a good range of blues and purples. I grew these in long root trainer cells with two to a cell and planted out the two seedlings to each cane of the wigwam.
Calendula Indian Prince HA
These gave such a strong block of colour in what was a very green looking young border. They were planted in groups of three. The flower petals were irresistably soft to touch. I pulled the plants out when they succumbed to mildew and already I can see new seedlings appearing. I may let them stay.
Cornflower Double Blue HA
These were intended for the cut flower patch but so many of them germinated from the autumn sowing that I planted a few in the border. I failed to pinch out the tops and they were soon in need of staking. Eventually I took the shears to them and reduced the height. They continued to flower and filled a space. I love the blue colour but they haven’t won a place in the long-term planting scheme.
Nicotiana Lime Green HHA
These are such beautifully scented flowers and the seeds germinated well. I had trays full and as I have not developed a gardener’s ruthless streak I planted them everywhere. The slugs loved them but eventually the plants grew tall. The scent was wonderful on a summer’s evening and they fulfilled the need for colour but I took against their rather sticky leaves. They are gradually being pulled out as my perennial planting scheme comes into focus. I may grow them again next year in smaller quantities as the scent is so beguiling it may cause me to forget those leaves.
Ammi Majus HA
So like a cow parsley. My vision was to plant it amongst some wild bramble that runs along part of one side of the garden and to use it alongside the Nicotiana to create some froth. In truth, it became too tall and needed staking, which it didn’t get in time. It did have its moment but I won’t grow this Ammi again. I might not have any say in that as a multitude of seeds tumbled to the soil when I recently uprooted it all.
These have been so rewarding. I sowed C. Purity, C. Dazzler and C. Versailles Tetra. They were intended for the cut flower patch but there were enough left to plant in the borders. I planted a grid of Nicotiana and Cosmos in a sunny spot and they are still in flower. They almost self-supported each other with the help of some canes and hoop staking around the base. But they couldn’t remain fully upright in the face of the windy weather experienced this year. I used a second slightly later sown tray of C. Purity to plant a another block at the shadier end of the border and these have grown strong and tall and are just flowering. They have all been staked and are looking good.
Rudbekia Gloriosa Daisies HHP
These were grown from Mr Fothergill’s seeds that came free with Gardeners World magazine. I grew them for cut flowers but a couple sneaked into the border where they have added a lovely warm glow of late colour. They are useful cut flower as they can be snipped off short to give a more upright stem for a narrower vase or cut further down to take in several flowering stems to fill a larger vase in an entwining, meandering display.
I’ve just started off some Love-in-a-mist for next year and will also do an autumn sowing of sweet peas. Progress reports to follow.