Sunday, August 12

Annual flower patch

Before you start to get involved in this post, I will warn you it is very photo heavy and if that isn't enough, and you stay the course, there is a video at the end too!

Regular readers will know that I like to grow annual flowers on our allotment. We always devote a bed or two to an annual mix.
After trying various methods of raising the seeds, I now sow as many varieties as is possible direct, only starting the more tender types in seed trays. The seeds are not sown into the soil as, our soil is very heavy clay, so we sow in trenches of compost. Our method is shown here.
Most years I go through the same ritual. I sow the seeds, some seem to fail to germinate, I sow more seeds.  Then some of the early 'failures 'start to pop up amongst the later sowing. I make sure the seeds are well watered, as the surface of the compost dries, quickly, and hope that the slugs keep away. The seedlings always seem to take for ever to grow and I always decide that they are going to fail and then things suddenly take off.

I buy a mixture of hardy annual and some half hardy annuals which I tweak from year to year. Some always feature such as annual cornflowers.
The only trouble with cornflowers is the tedious job of dead-heading which needs to be done if you don't want the patch to look messy.

I also always grow clarkia.

The clarkia brings a more spire like shape to the mix as does godetia.
Nigella has also earned a permanent place on the list. A year or so ago they appeared in a packet of mixed seeds. Until that point I thought that I didn't like them but having grown them I changed my mind.
Even though the individual flowers don't last long I also always sow poppies Again this is another plant that needs dead heading if it is to continue flowering.
I also always grow calendula - I really like the creamy coloured varieties.
For a few years I have tried to grow didiscus but the slugs have ruined my attempts. This year I have succeeded. The flowers are really pretty but get a bit lost in the annual mix.

I usually sow two patches of annuals. The above photos show the first bed.

The second bed is sown a little later.
It usually starts to flower a week or so after the first sowing.
Despite using the same seeds, the second bed always seems to grow taller and fills out more.
I also direct sow cosmos in this bed as the slightly later sowing date is more suitable for half hardy annuals.
This year I added rudbeckia to the mix but so far I have noticed no sign of them, other than a glimpse of what may be a rudbeckia hiding amongst the other plants.

This year, because I was given a packet of seeds I grew some zinnias but, although they are pretty, I don't think they fit in with the informality of the bed. To be honest they were really added to fill gaps.
I was dead heading the cornflowers the other day and was in very good company. The flowers were alive with small bees.
So besides adding a splash of colour to they allotment, annual flowers are worth growing as a much needed nectar bar for our buzzing friends.

Now, if you haven't had enough maybe you would like to spend about 14 minutes taking a walk around the flowers on our plot.  This includes areas other than the annual flower beds. If you don't want to listen to me waffling on, you can always turn off your speakers.


  1. Just trying to get my head round "it flowers about week after the first sowing"
    Its probably just me - getting my own back after your recent comment on my blog about my fish!
    Great pictures. I am afraid my own annual flower display is way past its best

    1. I just seems to catch up, Roger, In fact once it takes off it just seems to grow stronger than the first lot. The first bed started flowering on 23 July and the second on 31 July. Now I'm going to have to go and read what I said about your fish!

    2. Ah - the fish running! :-)

  2. I think flowers definitely deserve a spot on a plot - beautiful, but the deadheading is such a bore, I'm sure it's meant to be a relaxing task but I find it annoying!

    1. Isn't it just, Belinda. Not relaxing at all, especially when you are pushed for time.

  3. I have to admit that I missed the boat for my packet of "Hardy Annuals, Tall Cut Flowers Mix" but you wait for next year...

  4. The bees and butterflies must love your plot, so much choice for them. Do the two beds keep you supplied with cut flowers throughout the summer?

    1. Along with the sweet peas and the flowers in what we call the perennial bed they do, Jo. We certainly have no shortage of bees,

  5. I don't have a bed I can set aside for cut flowers at the allotment. I just plant them amongst the vegetables wherever I can find some space. So no where near as many as you grow, but I think it's always good to have some flowers on the plot

    1. It is, Margaret as well as supplying the bees and other friendly minibeasts it cheers the place up.

  6. What a gorgeous selection of flowers. Absolutely loved them all, so


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