Posts Tagged ‘biennial’

Apricot foxgloves

July 20th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Digitalis 'Sutton's Apricot'

There’s no doubt that one of the loveliest of all foxgloves is ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ – and now’s the time to sow the seed. “But what’s so special about it?” I hear you ask? “There’s so many different foxgloves out there, with more coming out almost every year, why this one?”

Well, it’s the colour. It’s that simple. The mature flowers are a delightful soft pale rosy pink with a hint of yellow but they open from buds that are more determinedly apricot in colour. And, like all the best foxgloves, the plants have the gentle elegance and the arching shoot tips that come from the flowers being held on one side of the stem, not all the way round. And they’re a proper foxglove height, too, not short and squat.

So, seed sowing. You’ll find plenty of seed in the packet so you can sow outside in a row now. Anywhere that’s not too hot and dry (!) will be fine. It pays, after you’ve made a drill with the point of a stick, to fill the drill with water and let it sink in. Then sow thinly. Then cover gently.

Thin the seedlings out to 2-3cm, then 5cm and then 10cm apart and then, in the autumn, transplant them to where you’d like them to flower

So why is it that I feel so comfortable discussing a variety developed by and named for a rival seed company? It’s because if you buy ‘Sutton’s Apricot’ foxgloves from Mr F you’ll get five times as many seeds for 50p less per packet than if you buy it from our friends in Devon!

Honesty: an ancient favourite

July 6th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Lunaria annua var. albiflora

We’ve been growing honesty, Lunaria annua, for a long time. It was first grown in gardens way back in 1570 and first noticed as an escape from gardens in 1597. But the strange thing is that it’s never been found growing naturally in the wild – not anywhere. It’s found outside gardens over much of Britian but it’s always been traced back to cultivated plants.

This is an indispensible plant. A biennial, in spite of its botanical name, and now is the time to sow seed for flowering in spring next year. And the reason that it’s so valuable is that it has two distinct features. First of all, there’s the flowers, large four petalled flowers in purple or in pure white in well-branched sprays on plants up to 75cm high.

Then the flowers are followed by the familiar papery seed heads, flat pods the size of a 10p piece that dry so effectively for the winter.

Some gardeners find the usual form with its purple flowers a little crude in its colouring but grow it for the pods. The pure white form, though, is lovely and universally admired or the mix of the purple and the white is often grown.

In recent years other forms have arrived. Both flower colours are available with brightly splashed variegated leaves but this foliage divides gardeners’ opinions – sometimes fiercely!

A form with purple leaves and very dark flowers has also been seen recently but is not yet easy to find.

But the great thing about the white-flowered form is that it looks good with such a wide variety of other plants – so you can allow it to self sow and it will fit in anywhere. And it has an RHS Award of Garden Merit. So it must be good.