Archive for the ‘Seeds’ Category

Peach Hollyhock, BlakeneyI can feel it coming on. This slight obsession with Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea).

Deep pink Hollyhocks Ambler Road

Not only are they wonderful for greening-up our streets, but now they’re creeping into my front and back gardens (and a few clients’ gardens too). I want a field of them. I want to plant every seed that I’ve lovingly collected to see how they develop after cross-pollination, but alas, I’m short of an acre or two.

Cream Hollyhock with deep peach centre and blushings BlakeneyOn a recent trip to Blakekney on the north Norfolk coast, these joyful blousey creatures were everywhere. In little alleys, surrounded by flinty gorgeousness, in front of cottages on the street,

Cream Hollyhock with gentle peach blushings Blakeney

and even on their last knockings, I found them irresistible (and collected a few seed heads from each).

Hollyhock seedlingsI’ve only ever sown Hollyhock seeds in spring, from seeds gathered from neighbours’ front gardens, but I’ve collected seeds from surrounding streets and friends’ houses and started off a selection of these in the beginning of September. I’m not sure if, given a head start, these biennials/short-lived perennials will flower next summer, but I thought it was worth a try and will overwinter these in my greenhouse.

October Hollyhock seedlingsI’ve even started off a few last week to see how these do too.

And there’s plenty more to sow in spring for further experimentation. The delicious ‘Halo’ series (bold blooms with contrasting colours at their centre), are said to flower in their first year, so definitely worth a try,

Creme de Cassis Hollyhockand I spotted this rich ‘Crème de Cassis’ variety a few years ago at the Hampton Court Flower Show which I’m now itching to get growing.

We’re hoping to go large with our tree pit planting for our community project next year, so many of these little seedlings are destined to brighten up our streets (and a few front gardens if people want them). Just can’t wait to see how they all flower in the years to come.

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Naomi's Salad

Ah! Flattery will get you everywhere! Suttons sent out four salad seed mixes for gardening bloggers and journalists to trial in early Feb, accompanied by one’s own personalised wooden growing tray. Now, I have to admit to being the kind of person who buys trainers because the ‘N’ logo matches my own initial, so I couldn’t help but be charmed. Not that this would sway me in any way in regards to the results of the seed trials………….(Hm…).

Confessions over, onto the mixes. None of my indoor windowsills could accommodate my personalised wooden tray, as it measures 53 x 36 x 9cm high, but luckily for me, I have a lovely new greenhouse (hurrah!), so out I popped and got sowing at the beginning of March. I’m a bit of a traditionalist, and like sowing my leaves individually, not all mixed in together, so I must admit to being a little curious as to how I’d get on with these packets.


Growing above is the ‘Spicy Oriental Mix’ (5 weeks after sowing) and I found it to be very tasty. This peppery/mustard mix contains: Pak Choi ‘Cantong White’, Mizuna, ‘Kyoto’, mustard leaves ‘Red Giant’ and ‘Golden Streaks’ and Salad Rocket. All quick growers and perfect for growing in the cooler weather in early spring. However I do like a nice bit of crunch in my salads these days, and these young tender leaves are quite soft, so for me the mix worked best combined with bought Cos type lettuces (my own are still a few weeks away from being ready to pick) for the ideal taste and texture.

Cake Sunday

We held another ‘Cake Sunday’ community get-together this weekend and Suttons kindly donated 50 packs of their salad leaf mixes to give away (huge thanks!). After neighbours nibbled leaves from my seed tray mix, packets flew off the table!

The three other mixes that came with the crate are: ‘French Mix’ containing Salad rocket, Dandelion, Chervil and Cress, ‘Italian Mix’ containing Basil, Dandelion, Cress, Mustard Ruby Steaks and Wild Rocket and ‘Californian Mix’ containing Mustard leaves, Pak Choi, Greek Cress and Wild Rocket. I’ll be growing these outdoors (in my crate once the spicy mix has had its second flourish) over the next few months now the weather is warming up and I hope they’ll be equally tasty.

The wooden crate itself is part of Suttons’ ‘Stacks of Flavour’ range. Crates start at £20 for one slat high (with personalised message of up to 20 characters) which also includes 4 packets of salad mixes and crates come in 1, 2 or 3 slats high and either 18cm or 36cm deep.

You can buy the empty crates or crates with themed seed collections or plants such as the 2 slats high Herbtastic collection containing plugs of Chives, Mint, Parsley, Thyme and Oregano or  the 3 slats high Pizza collection with super plugs of Crimson Crush tomato plants, Basil and Oregano.

Great ideas that make it simple for those who want to grow their own in small spaces (in a beautifully coordinated fashion!).

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Chliterns seed catalogue 2014

It’s been a very relaxing holiday, and although I’ve taken advantage of a couple of gloriously sunny days (amidst all the rain) to tackle some overdue gardening tasks (pruning a wayward climbing rose and taming a rampant clematis), my mind hasn’t really started to contemplate my seed order for the year ahead. However, a timely thud by the front door this morning has changed all that. This is the latest offering from Chiltern Seeds, and the front cover alone has me salivating! It’s a Scabiosa stellata ‘Sternkugel’, and such a gorgeous annual does indeed deserve to be grown from seed.

The Chiltern Seeds catalogue is always an entertaining read, packed full of fantastic cultivars to experiment with, but this year it seems to be peppered with even more tempting images than before. Deep purple lab lab beans vie for the most gorgeous near-black image with a Sweet William called ‘Sooty’ (sadly with no reference to Sweep and Soo though), and Lunaria rediviva looks like a glorious perennial honesty with wonderfully pointed seed pods. I haven’t started on the rest of the catalogue yet, let alone the accompanying veg book, but Chiltern’s will be making it difficult to hone my seed order this year.

So onwards for 2014. I can’t wait to start trying out new tomato varieties that I saw at Château de la Bourdaisière  this summer (many of them available from Nicky’s Seeds) and there are so many ideas for annual flowers and decorative lettuces scattered around in my head that I’m already wondering how I’ll squeeze them all in. Ah, the joy of it all! I hope you have a great growing year ahead, experimenting with all the fruit, veg and flowers of your dreams. Time to get sowing again can’t come soon enough!

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