Posts Tagged ‘Hardy annual flowers’

Gertrude Jekyll on annuals to sow soon

August 1st, 2014 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Eschscholtzia (California poppy) 'Appleblossom Pink'Last time I enthused about sowing seed of nigella (love-in-a-mist) in late summer and autumn, but there are plenty of other annuals that can be treated in the same way. In fact I suddenly remembered there’s a list of annuals and biennials for autumn sowing in Gertrude Jekyll’s 1916 book Annuals and Biennials.

Her experience has led her to include some plants that would not immediately come to mind for this approach and some that are now very rarely seen at all. Here’s what a few of those Gertrude Jekyll recommended that are still easily available (with her full list at the end).

Alyssum Don’t bother with the old ‘Carpet of Snow’ (sometimes the plants are all different sizes); try ‘Snow Crystals’ or the excellent five-colour ‘Golf Bright Mixed’.

Clarkia Sow outside, or it can be grown in pots in an unheated greenhouse to flower in March and April. ‘Choice Double Mixed’ is the one to grow.

Cornflower I’ll be looking at cornflowers in detail soon, ‘Blue Ball’ is a really vivid blue.

Erysimum Biennials that can only be sown in summer, I discussed ‘Sugar Rush’ here a few weeks ago.

Eschscholzia “No annual is better for a warm bank or any place with full sunny exposure,” says Jekyll. Try ‘Appleblossom Pink’ (above, click to enlarge).

Godetia The best plants for cut flower come from an August sowing, try ‘Azalea Flowered Mixed’.

Gypsophila Best in soil with good drainage, try ‘Monarch White’.

Iberis Easy and dependable, ‘Fairy Mixed’ includes dark and pastel shades.

Larkspur I’ll be looking in detail at larkspur next time.Linaria 'Fairy Bouquet'

Lavatera The prettily veined ‘Silver Cup’ is my favourite.

Limnanthes The poached egg flower is one that can take damp soil.

Linaria ‘Fairy Bouquet’ contains an amazing range of colours.

Nemophila I discussed the delightful nemophila here recently.

Papaver Multicoloured ‘Dawn Chorus’ double poppies are far better from an autumn sowing than when sown in spring.

Phacelia Now mainly grown for green manure, Phacelia tanacetifolia is also a colourful bee plant.

Scabiosa ‘Black Knight’ has close-to-black flowers.

Sweet Pea I’ll be looking at sweet peas as the autumn sowing season approaches.

Sweet Sultan ‘Sweet Sultan Mixed’ needs a long growing season so autumn sowing is a big advantage.

Reprints of Annuals and Biennials by Gertrude Jekyll are available on

Here’s the full list of annuals and biennials that she recommends for autumn sowing: Alyssum, Asperula, Bartonia, Cacalia, Clarkia, Collinsia, Cornflower, Crepis, Delphinium, Erysimum, Eschscholzia, Gilia, Godetia, Gypsophila, Iberis, Kaulfussia, Larkspur, Lavatera, Leptosiphon, Limnanthes, Linaria, Nemophila, Nigella, Omphalodes, Papaver, Phacelia, Platystemon, Saponaria, Scabiosa, Silene, Sweet Pea, Sweet Sultan.