Posts Tagged ‘Calendula’

New Year’s day flowers

January 4th, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Calendula and Cerinthe

Nights below freezing this week have, perhaps, finally announced the arrival of winter but the end-of-the-year mildness led to a longer than usual list of plants in flower on New Year’s Day.

Shrubs including mahonias and viburnums and winter jasmine we expect, hellebores too and the early snowdrops, but garden pinks? They were a surprise and two of mine yielded flowers to cut for a little jug on the kitchen table (sorry, my picture was terrible!). Two different Shasta daisies, too, have been flowering for weeks and although wet weather has spoiled the open flowers, picked as the buds open they develop well indoors.

Self sown hardy annuals can usually be relied on and this year is no exception. Germinating at different times through the late summer and autumn, there always seems to be a plant in flower and calendulas and blue cornflowers plus cerinthes have all carried at least a few flowers for many weeks.

The other dependables are polyanthus, often developing flowers months ahead of their traditional season.

Surprisingly, a perennial salvia that was cut down hard after its summer flowers had faded promptly burst into growth and has been flowering for weeks. The buds of Japanese honeysuckle opened indoors and the mice and birds have left alone the bright berries of the misleadingly named stinking iris (Iris foetidissima) to add sparkle.

None of these plants are growing in especially cosy situations, they’re growing on my trial garden which is similar to regular back gardens around the country although it has good fences to keep the wind off. True, they don’t look as pristine or have long stems as they do in summer – but who cares!

Of course, it’s been mild but leaving in place self sown seedlings of annuals at various stages of development is a big help. Good drainage and a dark mulch helps keep the soil warm, cutting away dead and dying shoots of annuals opens them up and avoids winter rots and clearing away what really is past it allows good air movement and, again, reduces rots.

Catch up with seed sowing

May 4th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Larkspur, cornflower and calendulas

Not been much of a spring, has it… But things have changed and this Bank Holiday weekend looks to be a great chance to catch up and get some seeds in.

The thing is, just because the packet says sow in March or April, it doesn’t mean you can’t sow in May. Soil temperature is key to seed germination and seed that has been sitting there in the chilly and wet soil may just not come up at all. Now that the soil is warming up, you have another chance.

So all those hardy annuals such as calendulas and larkspur and cornflowers and annual poppies and sunflowers that would usually be romping away by now – pop down to the garden centre and pick up some seed. And get them in soon.

I sowed some sunflowers outside and most have failed to come up – actually, I think the mice might be partly responsible: the longer the seeds sit there not germinating the more chance the mice will find them. So yesterday I checked the racks in the garden centre, bought some seed and it will be going in today.

Of course, if we can spark the seeds into prompt germination, so much the better. After I’ve made the drills but before sowing the seed, I always water along the drills, preferably with liquid feed in the water. That may be less necessary this weekend, after rain earlier this week, but it’s generally a good idea. I’ve even been known to fill the can with warm water from the tap – but I realise this may be going too far!

The important lesson is that it’s not too late. So take a look in your seed tin or pop down to the garden centre and get sowing.

Mr Fothergill's sunflowers in the garden centre

Best seed raised flowers of 2016

December 30th, 2016 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Over this last summer I visited the extensive trials at Mr. F a number of times, took a look at various other trials around the country and grew quite a few seed-raised flowers myself. Every year I’m reminded of what great value seed-raised annuals are – summer seasonals as they’re increasingly being called – and this year was no exception.

Three stood out – well, actually, about a dozen stood out but there’s only room for three. (Click the pictures to enlarge.)

Calendula 'Snow Princess'Calendula ‘Snow Princess’ First, new this year, a calendula that while perhaps not quite as white as it’s said to be, is certainly the only calendula approaching white. I wrote about it previously here back in November. It’s a lovely thing, creamier towards the centre and white at the tips of the petals. It bushes out well without pinching, flowers early and continually and when I cut it for the house I found that it lasted well. Its colour is soft and appealing, with none of the garish orange of many calendulas.

It started to develop a little mildew late in the season – by which I mean October! – but it seemed to keep flowering happily anyway.

Order seed of Calendula ‘Snow Princess’.

Aster 'Duchess Blue Ice', Phlox 'Moody Blues'Phlox ‘Moody Blues’ I was struck by a number of blue, and blue-and-white, annuals this year although unfortunately not all of them are available. Phlox ‘Moody Blues’, in a harmonious range of blue tones with some blue-and-white mixed in, is lovely and easy to grow from a direct sowing outside.

I arranged it with the pretty bicoloured aster ‘Duchess Blue Ice’, Ageratum ‘Blue Mink’ and some pink flowers from the Achillea ‘Summer Berries’ mixture.

Order seed of Phlox ‘Moody Blues’.

Zinnia 'Zinderella Peach'Zinnia ‘Zinderella Peach’ Finally, as The Year of The Zinnia approaches, I’d pick out Zinnia ‘Zinderella Peach’. Mr F grew about one hundred and fifty zinnias this last year, looking for the very best to add to the range for next year but I reckon that the best is already in the catalogue. In fact I wrote about it in November 2014.

Each anemone centred flower of Zinnia ‘Zinderella Peach’ is a lovely combination of peach and apricot tones and, unlike many of the varieties that were tested, there were no irritating off types. Everyone I showed it to loved it. I’m going to order two or three packets next year.

Order seed of Zinnia ‘Zinderella Peach’.