Saturday, January 14

It isn't just about vegetables

It's not only vegetable seeds that we have been pondering over as we sow quite a few flower seeds too.

Some flower plants raised end up on the plot and others in the garden and some even end up in both. Not the same actual plant of course!

I'm hoping for a better flower year this year as many of our annual sowings didn't thrive due to the extremely dry conditions - when it came to watering the food crops had to take priority.

We have grown sweet peas for ages - it is a flower that just seems to 'go' with the idea of allotments. This year I'm going to try growing more than usual to go for the wow effect! As far as I'm concerned a sweet pea has to have perfume so I'm sticking with the varieties grown last year  (Kings - Perfume Delight and Spencer Mixed) - and adding Sweet Dreams from T&M. I ordered some low growing sweet peas - Snoopea last year but they were substituted with a tall growing variety (not a good substitute when size mattered) so I'm trying to get some seed again this year.
I usually grow some French marigolds and tagetes along the edges of the fruit tree beds. Last year I was amazed to find lots of French marigolds had self -seeded even after last winter. Amazed as they are supposed to be only half hardy and in theory shouldn't have survived but survive they did and lots of them. Obviously they didn't spring up in the places that I want so I just transplanted them.
This got me thinking - usually the marigolds take quite a lot of space in the greenhouse so this year I am toying with the idea of trying to raise them in a seed bed on the plot - maybe under some sort of cloche if necessary - what do you think?

Another addition to my flower list are antirrhinums. I did once try growing these but the germination was poor - I've since learned that they need sowing in a John Innes type compost but the early failure put me off. Then last year some self sown plants popped up in our front garden bed and looked good there so I'm, going to have another try and use them to fill gaps between perennials. I've chosen Snap Happy from Kings which shouldn't grow too tall.

Dahlias are another common allotment flower. I grew some from seed last year, they were quite slow to grow into decent sized plants and the flowers were a bit of a disappointment - lovely colour range but the flower shapes were a bit ragged. I guess this again could have been the conditions - anyway we have saved the tubers and will plant them to give them another chance but I've ordered a packet of a variety called Pompone to add to them. As the name suggests this is a pompom type which I like for cut flowers.
I also tried growing Osteospernum from seed last year - I chose a cheap variety as I wasn't sure how easy they were to grow so I wanted plenty of seed. They were fairly easy so this year I'm trying a different more expensive variety. The ones I planted last year were oranges and yellows so this year I'm going for the purples and whites of a variety called Passion Mixed. The colours are more in keeping with what I expect from osteospernums. I've still lots of last year's seed left so will grow some of them too - there are only 8 seeds of the more expensive variety.
We like to have pansies in tubs for a bit of winter early spring colour and usually I have bought these as plants. This year I'm going to try growing my own from seed and have ordered a couple of varieties - I just hope that they don't all end up the same colour!

I'm also trying to grow a perennial poppy Fruit Punch - We always get a massive amount of annual poppies coming up all over the plot from goodness knows where - we've haven't planted them! What's the betting that the ones that I try to grow are less eager to please?
On plant I didn't order but it looks as though I'm going to end up growing is nemophila - Total eclipse. It was a free packet from Plants of Distinction. It sounds as though it's habit is similar to that of limnanthes - poached egg plants so it will be one for the plot. We started off with just six limnanthes plants and now just look .
It tool the above photo last week - the limnanthes form a dense carpet under the roses but fortunately do no harm. They look great when the are flowering and can even be spotted in an aerial photo.


  1. I'm a slow but steady convert to growing flowers, and I have to say I am partial to the taller ones, particularly cosmos, sunflowers & sweet peas. But I also grow marigolds. I think that if they self seeded happily then theres no reason why you could sow in outdoor beds, especially if you used a cloche.

  2. In my small garden the veg are definitely the first priority. The space I have for flowers is very limited, and mostly North-facing. You certainly have a nice selection of ornamentals though - the poppies are spectacular. I think your idea of growing the marigolds at the plot would work OK if you got a couple of long cloches for them.

  3. That is some list! I started some sweet peas off in October and I'm going to sow a few more in Feb/March to see which do better. I love Cosmos and eventurally will try a grow them from seed but for now I need to consentrate on veg.

  4. I only ever have veggies on my plot and don't grow flowers at all but my Mum grows flower plants and then we do 'swappsies' together so I have some for the garden. I say go for it with the Marigolds. I have always found them to be an incredibly hardy plant that are deterred by nothing....I always manage to miss dead heading some throughout the flowering season and you can guarantee they seed themselves for the following year.
    Glad you're giving antirrhinums a go again...I have always loved these flowers.

    I really need to spend some time getting my garden sorted as much as my allotment this year.

    I also have Dahlia's...but only the little ones as I only have a small open garden at the front which gets a lot of winds...the pompom variety are very pretty!

  5. Good selection Sue. I've also had french marigolds self seed and I think they would be Ok with some protection.

  6. I think the flowers are worth growing, Liz even if it is just to pull in the insects. The beneficial ones that is.

    Just hope the poppies grow Mark. I just wonder whether the marigolds survive as we had a mild early spring. I'll have a go though.

    We're always a bit a late in sowing the sweet peas Alison but they seem to do OK. Cosmos self seeds too on our plot.

    I tend to leave the seed heads for the birds, Tanya. Antirrhinums are sort of childhood flowers aren't they?

    I'll let you know what happens to the marigold Damo - I sense another rial coming on.

  7. I believe in the past couple of years vegetable seeds have overtaken flower seeds in terms of sales. While it is great that lots of people are growing their own produce I think it is important not to forget the immense value that growing flowers have on our natural world. Great post!

  8. I adore sweet peas; my icon shows me picking from a wall of them grown a few years back. Your choices are great and you should have a vibrant garden this summer.

  9. Wow! That's a lot of poached egg plants, it must look stunning when they're in flower. I didn't get round to sowing any sweet peas last year and I really missed them so I'm determined to get some sown this year.

  10. Sounds like a good list Sue - let's hope the weather conditions are better this year - I am sowing a lot of wild flower seeds this year around the edges of the plot. I usually sow in the greenhouse but will be doing these direct. Hope they are successful.

  11. I hope so Bren - they didn't grow very far up the 'wall' last year as it was too dry for them - I watered but it wasn't the same.

    They do Jo and that's after they have been weeded out - they seem to like it there. They are no trouble as they die off completely over summer after having spread seed. The seed doesn't stray far although some has come up in the tarmac 'road' around the site.

    Fingers crossed for your wild flowers and my sweet peas Elaine. WE have some wild flowers in the grass under the plum and gage trees where we let the grass grow a bit longer.

  12. The sweetpea flowers look lovely. Wow, your poached egg plant have really spread, suppose I have quite a spread under my roses as well. I always find it amazing, when I pull them all out out in Summer once they have flowered, and then a whole new lot of plants come up again a few weeks later. I've noticed they're also creeping into other areas of the garden as well.

  13. I've pulled out lots of the seedling poached egg plants too Kelli. They certainly are determined plants

  14. Wonderful selection of flowers, look forward to seeing them grow.

    Last year, for the first time EVER, I had a complete brainstorm and did not grow marigolds in the greenhouse. Last year, for the first time EVER, I had Cumbria's entire supply of whitefly in the greenhouse which rapidly devastated the aubergine plants (and the tomatoes were rubbish too).

  15. That's interesting BW I always wondered about companion planting and whether it was all it was cut out to be!

  16. There's an awful lot of people who say companion planting is guff and doesn't work. Perhaps they are correct.

    The only year I failed to grow marigolds in the greenhouse I had "pest city" . . .

    I'll stick with what works for me {grin}

  17. I'm a big believer in sticking with what works for me too BW


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