Autumn Seed Sowing and Flower Garden Planning
Some of the most popular gardening items this year have been bags of compost and packets of seed, with more time at home there has been a chance to grow your own and enjoy seeing the fruits of your labour. While vegetable seeds were top of the list there are plenty of flowers that are easy to grow too, particularly annuals. Ideal for filling in gaps in the borders while waiting for the garden to mature, to experiment with new colour combinations and particularly for growing a few bunches of cut flowers.
Many flowers need sowing in autumn, some under glass whether this is in a greenhouse, cold frame or on a window sill and some can be directly sown into the ground. California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are happy to be sown outside, the bright orange varieties such as Orange King are more familar but some of my favourites are the cream varieties such as Ivory Cream or the Thai Silk series. Probably because I enjoy mixing them with a vaseful of cornflowers, Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’ and oxeye daisies (Leucanthemum vulgare) and the bees will thank you too. For a colour palette of deep rich reds Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’ and poppy varieties Papaver somniferum ‘Black Single’ and ‘Dark Plum’ will add that sumptuous velvet quality to the garden.
One flower that never seems to go out of favour are sweet peas, whether because they come in such an array of colours there are bound to be a colour to suit every garden or just a chance to inhale their heady scent. Sweet peas can either be sown now and kept under glass or sown directly into the ground in spring in any colour from the frothy pink of Lathyrus odoratus ‘Gwendoline’ or the pale blue of Noel Sutton. A firm favourite is Matucana with its bicolour flowers in magenta and purple, I tend to buy a packet every year. Often mixed in with a deep red like Midnight or some of the new varieties such as Nimbus, a delicate shade of lilac and white where the colours seem to merge into each other like ink drops. While waiting for spring to come around, to be able to start sowing more seeds the dark winter nights are perfect for perusing the seed catalogues and planning.