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Holmbury St. Mary Gardening Club

Rosendals Tradgard

15 September 2017

I visited Rosendals Tradgard (Rosendals Garden) on a recent trip to Stockholm. An amazing oasis of calm in the centre of the city’s main park ‘Djurgarden’. The land has been cultivated for over three centuries and since 1982 Rosendals Garden Foundation has run the market garden; a combination of vegetable fields, greenhouses, orchard, pick your own cut flowers, learning centre, bakery, farm shop and café. The plants and harvested crops are available to buy and are used in the café and bakery.
It is a mix of beautifully tended veg and flower beds with a fabulous café and farm shop. Rosendals Garden Foundation is a non-profit organisation; helping nature to thrive and improving peoples well-being – internships and volunteering opportunities are also a key feature of the project.
It is a place to not to miss if you are ever in Stockholm!

© 2017

Soft-Wood Cuttings

06 June 2017

I have just hosted a gardening workshop on taking soft wood cuttings and thought it would be useful for everyone to read about this propagation technique. It is one of the simplest ways of increasing your stock of plants for free! Most shrubs, climbers and herbaceous perennials can be propagated this way and June/July is the perfect time…. Some Basics of Taking Soft Wood Cuttings: · Use juvenile foliage, generally current season’s growth, approx. 5cm long, 2 pairs of leaves · Non-flowering shoots if possible · Softer material will root more quickly but is susceptible to rotting and die back so maintain humidity and check often for watering · Good hygiene is important—clean, sharp tools, sterile growing media and swift removal of damaged/dead material · Plant tissue needs to remain turgid therefore take cuttings in the morning, mist or protect cuttings from drying wind. A shaded and sheltered, humid environment is essen tial to encourage rooting. If you can apply bottom heat, roots establish more quickly · Free draining but moisture retentive compost (John Innes no. 2) · Stem wounding if stem cuttings are woody · Use nodal/heel cuttings. A higher concentration of growth hormone is located at the nodes · Use hormone rooting powder if cuttings don’t take on your first attempt!

Easy plants to try are: Hydrangea, Wiegela, Philadelphus (Mock Orange), Potentilla, Aster, Osteospermum, Tradescantia, Rudbekia

© 2017

How to Control Slugs and Snails

06 May 2017

Slugs and snails were gardening enemy number 1 in 2016 according to research from the RHS. Having said that there haven’t been many slugs around this year due to the unseasonably low rainfall (has it rained at all in April)? There are snails, but I have 2 garden thrushes this year who are doing a great job of removing them too. However, I know the slugs are there just waiting below the soil surface to appear once the rain begins! I have decided therefore to try nematodes to reduce the problem of slug damage particularly to my dahlia’s once I plant them out. I am trying Nemaslug. This biological method controls all common species of small to medium sized slugs (up to 8 cm or 2.5-3 inches). One application will provide approx. 300,000 nematodes for every square metre of soil, giving at least six weeks control of slugs. This is generally enough time for seedlings and bedding plants to get well established. Slugs treated with nematodes will stop feeding in 3 days and die in about a week. The majority of the slugs will die underground, so don’t expect to see dead slugs lying around. Nemaslug is a biological control which contains microscopic worms (nematodes) which seek out slugs and stops them feeding on plants within 3 days and then kills them. It is an effective alternative to chemicals. It is also safe to use and harmless to children, pets, birds and wildlife. It also works well in damp and wet conditions, which is when slugs thrive and do the most damage. You apply using a watering can with a coarse rose; it can also be applied any time when slugs are present as long as the soil temperature is at least 5C (40F). It should be applied to moist soil so if applying in hot weather it is better to wait until later in the day when the soil won’t dry out so quickly and the nematodes will have a chance to migrate under the ground during the night. It is also beneficial to water them in well after application to ensure that all of the nematodes are washed into the soil as they will soon die if they are left on the foliage. I will report back later in the year; once the dahlia’s are out and the rain begins. Fingers crossed I will have better looking plants this year!

© 2017

How to take Dahlia Cuttings

23 February 2017

I grew dahlias for the first time last year after seeing Monty Don’s beautiful dahlia flowers on Gardeners’ World. One of the varieties he grows is called ‘Rothsay Reveller’ which I bought from The National Dahlia Collection (www.nationaldahliacollection.co.uk) as cuttings as they are much cheaper to buy than tubers. This is a striking bi-coloured purple and white dahlia growing to 1.4m.
The Collection consists of over 1600 named species and cultivars and is the only Collection of Dahlia’s registered with Plant Heritage. The great thing about dahlias is that you can easily take cuttings from the tubers and the cuttings will flower nearly as well as the parent in the same growing year. Many plants for free! Cuttings planted in June will flower that season and form tubers to over winter to the following year.

Bring the tubers out of storage mid-February. Always choose healthy, firm tubers. I place the tubers in open trays filled with damp sand or compost and place in a frost free environment. This lets the tuber warm and start to grow.

Once the tubers have sprouted; which can take a few weeks, take a knife and carefully cut the new growth with a little ‘bit’ of basal plate. This will help the cutting to root. Place the cuttings in small pots in ‘seed/cuttings compost’ and leave to grow. Always keep frost free and watered (but not drenched). Ideally, they should be in good light but not direct sunlight. After the frosts have passed, plant outside and enjoy the blooms later in the year!

© 2017

Stunning Tree for Small or Large Garden

10 January 2017

If you are looking for a small tree with beautiful maple leaves and stunning autumn colour, look no further than Liquidambar Styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’. I received this beautiful tree as a Christmas present. This extremely narrow ornamental tree is a relatively new introduction to the UK from America. Growing to approximately 6m in height in 20 years, this columnar tree will achieve a spread of just 1 metre which makes it the perfect small garden tree where height is desirable but room for spreading branches is limited. The polished foliage is attractive lush green throughout the Spring and Summer before turning vivid shades of purple, red and orange in the autumn. The Columnar Sweet Gum is ideal for use as a focal point in the garden, great for breaking up the appearance of ugly buildings and perfect for planting in rows, to create a formal avenue. Given a moist, damp, or a moist but well-drained soil, in full sun if possible, this fabulous ornamental tree will withstand, once established, periods of drought and temporary flooding. The striking autumn colour, strong architectural form and hardiness of makes it a very popular small ornamental tree.

© 2017

Aloe Vera

11 November 2016

On a recent trip to Lanzarote; we came across lots of plant nurseries and shops selling Aloe vera products. Not being familiar with the source of Aloe vera; we visited an excellent farm where the process of extraction and purifying of the pulp was explained. Aloe vera is a succulent plant species of the genus Aloe. It grows wild in tropical climates around the world and is cultivated for agricultural and medicinal uses. The climate in Lanzarote is perfect; being not too hot in summer and not too cold in winter. It is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces. The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower being pendulous. Once the plant is full grown, the leaves are harvested, cleaned and the pulp extracted and filtered. It can then be used as a component of many pharmaceutical and medicinal products. It is also known as the Medicine plant, Medicine aloe, True aloe, Burnt plant, Cape aloes, Socotrine, House leek, Sea houseleak and Sea-ay-green. Aloe vera was so widely grown as a medicinal plant in ancient times that its exact region of origin is a mystery. This species is of considerable economic importance and extracts are included in all manner of pharmaceutical preparations for the skin, treatment of burns and for ingestion. It is important to use the correct species of Aloe for medicinal preparations, as some species e.g. Aloe venenosaare are poisonous. Toxic reactions by sensitive individuals to Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) have been reported, despite its widespread, mainly safe use.

© 2016

Plants for Shady Pots

19 April 2016

Now that the frosts have passed (hopefully)! and the weather warming up, it’s a good time to turn our attention to pots. Containers are a great way of adding instant colour and interest to the garden. Planting up a pot in full or partial sun is easy; the garden centres are full of plants and plant combinations that will thrive. I am often asked though if there are any plants that will look good and flourish in shade, and of course there are. Look for variegated foliage plants which are great at brightening dark areas. Architectural plants which provide their own shape and structure. And plants that survive in natural shade in our own gardens; ferns, solomons seal, vaccinium and variegated hollies to name a few. A simple and classy combination utilises a foliage plant and a striking focal point; try the silvery edged Euonymus fortunei ‘Silver Queen’ with Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Rose Queen’ a pretty evergreen with spikes of delicate rose-pink flowers above light green foliage. Or for a bolder theme choose Begonia Non Stop series with double blooms throughout summer in white, red, orange, pink and yellow. These plants are excellent in containers and hanging baskets. Or try Begonia sutherlandii the pendulous or trailing begonia. This has long and slender stems clothed with large, oval, bright green leaves with red veins. The relatively small flowers are freely borne in hanging clusters all summer long. So whatever your style; these quick and easy plant ideas will brighten a shady spot in your garden.

© 2016

Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

18 September 2015

September is the time to plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinths. Plant tulips in November and plant hardy summer-flowering bulbs, such as lillies and crocosmia in September and October. Bulbs are useful for adding colour to spring borders. Tulips come in all shades, from dark purple to white, and bloom at a time of year when many plants have muted colours. Other bulbs such as snowdrops and scillas are some of the earliest flowering plants in the garden, brightening up the short days of very early spring. Most hardy bulbs including tulips and daffodils prefer a warm, sunny site with good drainage as they come from areas with dry summer climates.
Aim to plant the bulbs in groups of at least 6, as the more bulbs that are grouped together, the better the display. Typically, 25-50 bulbs may be needed to make an impressive show. How to plant: dig a hole wide and deep enough for your bulbs. Work out the planting depth by roughly measuring the bulb from base to tip and doubling or tripling this length – this is the planting depth. A 5cm high bulb should be 10-15cm below soil level. Space them at least twice the bulb’s own width apart. Some bulbs, such as winter aconites, bluebells and snowdrops, are thought to be best planted, moved or divided ‘in the green’, when flowering is over but they are still in leaf.
Some of the large- flowered hybrid bedding tulips are rarely reliably perennial. If you choose tulip species, the plants are lower growing and their flowers less dramatic than the hybrids but they often produce good displays year after year, planted in well-drained soil in full sun. Some good reliable repeat flowering tulips are: Tulipa bifloriformis ‘Starlight’(15-20cm) flowers March Tulipa turkestanica (20cm) flowers March Tulipa saxatillis Bakeri Group ‘Lilac Wonder’(20-30cm) flowers April Tulipa tarda (10-20cm) flowers April-May Alternatively, bulbs can be forced now to fill the house with scent and flowers in the depths of winter. Most spring-flowering bulbs need a period of chilling at 7C or below, before bringing them indoors, to ‘force’ them into growth. The length of chilling varies between the different types of bulb, but is generally somewhere between 10 and 16 weeks. Or, you can buy prepared bulbs that have been heat-treated and pre-chilled. This will cut down the time you need to chill at home. Easy bulbs for forcing include the scented Narcissus paper white ‘ Ziva’ , Narcissus ‘Avalanche’, strong short stemmed Tulipa ‘Formosa’, ‘Calgary’ and ‘Apricot Beauty’ and Hyacinth ‘Delft Blue’ and ‘Blue Jacket’.

© 2015

Plants for Free! How to take Soft Wood Cuttings

18 July 2015

Taking Soft wood Cuttings Propagation from cuttings is one of the best ways of increasing your plant stock for free! It is a good technique if you have a plant that you particularly like and want to repeat. Specialised equipment is not required, just a clean sharp knife, some good quality potting compost, clean pots and a method of providing a humid environment. Cuttings exploit the natural ability of plant material to regenerate into a fully developed plant, with roots and shoots. It is the most popular technique for propagating most shrubs, climbers and herbaceous perennials. Cuttings can be collected from early summer (soft wood) to winter (hardwood). Try to take cuttings from stems that have juvenile foliage because these will root more easily.
Preparing Cuttings Now Collect material early in the day before the sun can drain away the plants water reserves. Store fresh cuttings in a clear plastic bag until they are used, this prevents them from drying out. Almost all cuttings will respond to artificial rooting hormones, available as powders, gels and liquids. ‘Wounding’ a cutting by removing a sliver of bark at the base of its stem exposes the area where most of cell division takes place and so increases the uptake of water and rooting hormone. Some shrubs like rhododendrons which have a very tough outer layer of cells will only propagate by wounding the stem. Soft wood cuttings are taken from the plant in spring and early summer before the new growth has begun to firm. This method is suitable for most deciduous shrubs and climbers. Soft wood cuttings are usually 4-5cm long with 2 or 3 pairs of leaves retained at the top. Remove the soft tip from the cutting. This ensures the plant once rooted will grow into a bushy plant and not straight up as a single stem. Remove the lowest pair of leaves to make it easier to insert into the compost. Use a clean sharp knife. Most cuttings are taken at the base of a ‘node’ (where the leaves join the stem) but some like clematis are intermodal (ie. between the nodes). Insert the cuttings into potting compost – use a dibber or pencil to make a hole in the compost so that the cutting material is able to enter the compost with minimal resistance and damage. Keep the cuttings in a cool, shady environment if outside and do not let them dry out or in a propagator if available. Once the cuttings have rooted the can be grown on in larger pots. I have just taken my first softwood cuttings of Weigela and Hydrangea – why not have a go too…

© 2015

5 Star Plants for Early Summer

18 May 2015

With summer fast approaching, and as we enjoy the longer days and evenings in our gardens, my thoughts turn to plants that are at their best in early summer. I have limited my selection to just four and have chosen plants I wouldn’t want to be without! I have selected a deciduous shrub, herbaceous perennial, bulb and an annual, enabling you to choose at least one that will add interest to your garden. These plants have to deliver real impact in the garden, adding not just colour but maybe form and structure too. All prefer a sunny site, with any reasonably good garden soil, and have good resistance to pests and diseases. The plants I have chosen have also attained the RHS’s award of garden merit (AGM).
Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’ provides interest from May – November. It is a large deciduous shrub with wide-spreading tiered branches (sometimes described as the Wedding Cake tree). The dark green leaves turn a vibrant purple in the autumn. This viburnum has large lace-cap hydrangea-like heads of white flowers in late spring followed by red fruit. It is often used by exhibitors at the Chelsea Flower show as it is in flower and is a show stopper.
Salvia nemerosa ‘Caradonna’ is a vibrant and long-flowering addition to the herbaceous or mixed border. It forms a compact mound of aromatic, grey-green foliage with vivid blue, purple flower spikes in June. Planted in contrast to the flat flower heads of Achillea, or the round pin-head flowers of either Scabious or Knautia creates most impact. Allium ‘Globemaster’ is undemanding and easy-to-grow, this columnar and upright allium adds ‘punch’ to a sunny border. Strong stems reach 90cm with large showy purple pom-pom flower heads. These versatile plants shine in the potager, herb garden or flower packed sunny border. They are best planted en masse for greatest effect. Sweet Pea ‘Matucana’ has the strongest and sweetest scent of all of the sweet peas and it is one of my ‘must have’ annuals. It has beautifully bi-coloured magenta and purple flowers superb for cutting as well as for garden beauty. I hope this plant selection has provided some ideas for enhancing your outside space, and I wish you enjoyment in your garden as summer bekons!

© 2015

Planting for Year - Round Interest in the Garden

18 March 2015

Gardens that are successful all year round are generally a mix of trees, evergreen and deciduous shrubs, perennials, bulbs, herbs and annuals. Try to select plants that have more than one season of interest, not just flowers but plants that also have interestingly shaped foliage or colourful bark or perhaps flamboyant seed heads. Whatever the size of your garden, a garden theme links the plants and various design elements. When deciding on a style, think about how you want to use the garden and the amount of work involved in maintenance. Styles include: woodland, contemporary/urban, mediterranean and cottage. Deciding on a style will encourage you to link the plants with paths, pots, fences etc. to create a unified design. Firstly, create a backbone for your garden with hedges, trees, evergreen and deciduous shrubs. These are the permanent structures in your garden along with the fencing, paving, pergola’s, paths etc. These structures are visible all year round and are, most importantly the focus in the winter months. There are many beautiful evergreen hedges both formal and informal. We are all familiar with box and yew hedges which can be clipped into formal topiary shapes ideally suited to a winter garden but there are also evergreen, informal plants such as Viburnum tinus, Berberis x stenophylla and Osmanthus delavayi which can be planted as flowering evergreen hedges. These provide a permanent structure in winter, flowers in spring or summer and often beautiful berries in the autumn. Other favourites of mine include: sweet box, Choisya ternata (Mexican orange blossom), pittosporums, evergreen cotoneaster, euonymus and camellias. Some ‘good doers’ in the deciduous shrub category include Cotinus coggygria and Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea Nana’, both have purple leaves, a good way to add weight and balance to a planting scheme. ‘Royal Purple’ colours well into autumn and has plumy panicles of flowers in summer whereas the berberis has purplish to red compact leaves becoming brighter in the autumn with small pale yellow flowers followed by deep red berries. Another beautiful deciduous shrub planted as a statement or within a mixed border is Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariesii’. This is a large deciduous shrub with wide-spreading, tiered branches and prominently veined, dark green, ovate leaves, purple in autumn. Stunning lacecap heads of white flowers appear in late spring followed by red, later black fruit.
Once you have created the backbone infill with your favourite herbaceous perennials, bulbs and annuals. This will give you a garden that has structure and year round appeal.

© 2015

TOP 5 Trees for Small Gardens

01 December 2014

When choosing a tree for your garden, always ensure it has more than one season of interest. Below are 5 small trees that do just that! Cornus kousa (Japanese dogwood) is a favourite for small gardens. It has dramatic blooms, fruits and foliage. It will reach 2.5m in 10 years and continue to develop from a shrub into a broad and bushy but neat specimen tree. In late spring and early summer the large four petalled creamy white flowers open. In early autumn, after a hot summer, the fruits are at their best. Each is the size and shape of a strawberry. Later in autumn comes the spectacular leaf colour, which can last up to a month. Sometimes vivid red, sometimes more purple. Arbutus unedo or the hybrid strawberry tree is an evergreen, with beautiful coloured, peeling, mahogany bark, dainty white flowers and strawberry-like fruit. It can be pruned to keep it upright rather than allowing it to spread.

Sorbus vilmorinii is a pretty tree for a small garden with fabulous, deeply-cut foliage that turns an intense red in autumn. White flowers in spring are followed by clusters of pink berries that change to pure white in the winter. Spread 5m x 5m.

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ has deep red-purple leaves that turn rich scarlet in autumn. It is relatively upright in habit with layered branches and abundant foliage. It is one of the more vigorous Japanese maples, so it makes an excellent small tree. Grows to 2m in 5 years. Grow Acers on any reasonable, well-drained soil that does not dry out in summer. They also prefer a sheltered position away from cold winds early in the season.

Euonymus europaeus ‘Red Cascade’ (Spindle tree) is a deciduous spreading shrub/small tree reaching 3m. It has narrowly ovate leaves turning red in autumn, and panicles of small yellow flowers followed by 4-lobed red fruits which split to reveal orange seeds.

© 2014

The High Line - New York City's Aerial Greenway

01 September 2014

I was fortunate this summer to visit New York City and had the opportunity to walk New York’s High Line – an elevated garden walkway a mile long created from part of a disused railway line.

The High Line is a 1-mile New York City linear park built on a 1.45-mile section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur, the West Side Line, which has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway. Inspired by the 3-mile Promenade plantée, a similar project in Paris completed in 1993, the High Line uses the disused southern portion of the West Side Line running to the Lower West Side of Manhattan.

The park was designed by a New York-based landscape architecture firm with planting design from Piet Oudolf of the Netherlands.

The park’s attractions include naturalized plantings that are inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew on the disused tracks and new, often unexpected views of the city and the Hudson River. Pebble-dash concrete walkways unify the trail, which swells and constricts, swinging from side to side, and divides into concrete tines that meld the hardscape with the planting embedded in railroad gravel mulch.

Stretches of track and ties recall the High Line’s former use. Portions of track are adaptively re-used for rolling lounges positioned for river views. Most of the planting, which includes 210 species, is of rugged meadow plants, including clump-forming grasses, liatris and coneflowers, with scattered stands of sumac and smokebush, but not limited to American natives. At the Gansevoort end, a grove of mixed species of birch already provides some dappled shade by late afternoon. Timber for the built-in benches has come from a managed forest certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, to ensure sustainable use and the conservation of biological diversity, water resources and fragile ecosystems.

It is a fabulous garden; humming with life, busy with activities. There are a myriad of free public programmes ranging from stargazing to storytelling. Cafes and picnic areas along the way allow you to stop and enjoy the views and the stunning planting. Like much of Piet Oudolf’s work, it is full of beautiful grasses and late summer perennials. If you are ever in New York City – plan to visit!

© 2014

Tips for Planting in Dry Shade

01 July 2014

It is often difficult to find the plants that suit this challenging environment which often occurs at the base of a wall or side of a building that faces away from the direction of the prevailing wind and is therefore sheltered from rain. It also occurs beneath large, shallow rooted trees with create a rain shadow beneath their leaf canopies.

Improve the soil.

The most important step is to improve the moisture retention of the soil by adding plenty of well-rotted organic matter. Another trick is to excavate a wide planting hole and line it with perforated polythene. Mix the excavated soil with copious quantities of loam-based potting compost and back-fill with the improved soil. Establishing a carpet of drought resistant ground-cover with plants like Pachysandra terminalis or Tellima grandiflora also helps to retain soil moisture by reducing surface evaporation. When planting ground-cover plants, start at the outer edge of the planting area where it is not so dry to give the plants a fighting chance. Once they are rooted encourage them to grow into the drier areas.

Careful plant selection.

There are a variety of plants that tolerate this environment including one of my favourite evergreen shrubs; Sarcococca confusa (Sweet box). Remember that even the toughest plants may not achieve their expected height and spread in such difficult environments so you may need to plant more closely. It is also vital that new plantings are kept watered during the most vulnerable period before they develop a well-established root system. Geranium phaeum and Liriope muscari also tolerate these conditions as do Epimedium x versicolor, Euonymus fortunei and Brunnera macrophylla.

© 2014

How to Take Hardwood Cuttings

01 February 2014

Deciduous Hardwood Cuttings Many deciduous trees, shrubs, soft fruit and climbers can be propagated using hardwood cuttings, including Salix, roses, dogwoods, Viburnum, Deutzia, Forsythia, Philadephus, Ribes and the climbers, Vitis, Lonicera and Parthenocissus. Currants, gooseberries and figs can also be propagated this way.

Once leaf fall is complete (mid-autumn to late winter), cuttings can be taken. Select healthy, current-year’s growth, 15-30cm long. Trim off the tip of each shoot if it has not ripened. Make a horizontal cut just below a node at the base of each cutting. Cuttings can either be placed in a deep pot or directly into the ground. Insert cuttings two thirds of their length into the compost. If using pots, the compost should be free-draining e.g. 50:50 coarse grit and multi-purpose compost. If planting directly into the ground, choose a sheltered site with well-drained soil. Make a slit trench by pushing the spade 15cm into the soil and press it forward. Allow 10-15cm between cuttings. Insert cutting two thirds of their length into the ground. Backfill the trench and firm. Check cuttings after frost and firm back if needed. Pots can be placed in a cold frame or unheated glasshouse. The cuttings should start to leaf out in spring. Leave them in place until the following autumn, when they can be lifted and potted up or planted out to grow on. Ensure the cuttings do not dry out in the summer.

If you are aiming for a single-stemmed plant, such as a gooseberry, leave only one bud above ground level, or rub off any surplus buds. Hormone rooting compounds can be used before inserting the cuttings, but are not strictly necessary.

When taken from the same plant, the cuttings will be genetically identical, which is useful if you have a favourite plant you would like to replicate or if you wish to establish a hedge with uniform characteristics.

Evergreen Hardwood Cuttings Although evergreen cuttings will root in a sheltered place outdoors, such as a cold frame, they respond well to the additional humidity provided by a plastic-film tent, either in a green house or outside in a cloche. This is because they are susceptible, unlike deciduous hardwood cuttings, to losing moisture through their foliage. Olearia (Daisy bush) can be propagated this way.

© 2014

Creating Colour from Seeds!

01 January 2014

January is the perfect time to plan for the gardening year, and growing annuals and half-hardy annuals is an exciting way to start. Easily grown, a vast choice of hardy and half-hardy seed is available that offer long-lasting flowers during the warmer months. These fast-growing plants provide an early and cost-effective way to give naturalistic planting, plug gaps and fill the border with a summer full of colour. Annuals and half-hardy annuals can add stature and presence to borders and early in the year is the perfect time to select and purchase these seeds.

There are an array of hardy and half-hardy annuals that can be sown early and buying seed has never been easier with on-line ordering and postal delivery. Importantly, there is also a much greater choice of colours and varieties from seed than you will find as ready-grown plants. Seeds are also much cheaper. Some popular hardy annuals include: Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist), Eschscholzia californica (Californian poppy) and Papaver commutatum (ladybird poppy). The glamorous half-hardy annuals include the flowers of: Nicotiana sylvestris, Cosmos bi-pinnatus and Cleome (spider flowers), foliage plant, Ricinus and colourful climbers like Cobaea.

© 2014 Year -Round Interest in the Garden