Plant now for colour next year
With the arrival of warmer weather it is now much easier to germinate seeds outside or in a cold frame. It’s really too late to sow seeds that will flower this year, but it is the ideal time to sow seeds of biennial and perennial plants that will flower next year.
Prepare a seedbed by removing all weeds and raking to a fine tilth. Mark out very shallow rows and sow to the depth recommended on the seed packet – usually only about a quarter of an inch. Water well and keep weed free.
When plants have reached five to ten centimetres, transplant them to their flowering position and water. Make sure to label their position. You can also sow in seed trays and place in a cold frame. I find that by June the greenhouse is often too warm for germinating many flower seeds and I move the propagating operation to cold frames.
A good hardy biennial for the border is one of the old cottage garden favourites – Campanula Calycanthema or ‘Cup and Saucer’ Bellflower. This grows to 60-90cm so is suitable for further back in the border. It produces large blue, pink, purple and white flowers from May to July and makes a good cut flower. It can be planted in May to June, transplanted to its final position in the autumn and will flower next year.
Bellflowers look well with Sweet William and with pink rambling roses if you plant near a wall as shown in the picture.
Other biennial seeds to plant now are hollyhock, pansy, mimulas, verbena, Queen Anne’s Lace and foxgloves. The white foxglove is particularly stunning and easy to grow. Seeds of perennial flowers can also be planted and these include the oriental poppies, lupins, salvia, penstemon, coreopsis, dianthus, lavender, bergamot, aster and geranium among others. Many plants self seed freely and so will give you new plants every year but it takes practice to differentiate the young seedlings from weeds.
Patsy O’Sullivan is a founding member of Ballinrobe Garden Club. If you have any gardening questions or would like to enquire about the club, contact Patsy at firstname.lastname@example.org