Posts Tagged ‘Annuals’

We love Asters: Late Summer Colour!

Posted by editor on Tuesday, 9 October 2018

This year’s extraordinary (maybe even becoming normal?) late summer sunshine reminds us that we can continue to enjoy colour in the garden well into October and even early November.

Here at The Garden House we have many late summer perennials still in bloom – Asters, Hardy Chrysanthemums, Japanese anemones, Crocosmias, Salvias, Penstemmon, Dahlias, Sedums and more – and annuals such as Cosmos, Persicaria orientalis, Cleome, Coreopsis and Ageratum are still enthusiastically flowering.

Many of these are in the hot colour spectrum, adding yet more fire to the Indian summer temperatures – pink, red, orange and yellows – and are perfectly supported by a variety of wonderful late summer grasses, such as miscanthus and panicum, which add structure and movement to mixed plantings.  Also the prettier softly tufted grasses such as Lagurus ovatus ‘Bunny’s Tails’ look great interplanted between annuals.

Shrubs such as Pyracantha, Cotoneaster and Cornus mas are also full of fiery coloured berries at the moment.


We Love: the Cutting Garden

Posted by editor on Sunday, 6 July 2014

This fabulous picture of our friend Deborah carrying an armful of sweet peas freshly cut from The Garden House inspired me to write about cutting gardens.

At The Garden House we love to bring scent and colour into the house all year long by planning ahead and growing flowers and foliage especially for cutting – bulbs, annuals, biennials, perennials, shrubs trees and climbers.

Summer annuals grown from seed offer the fastest, most colourful and varied blooms – Antirrhinums (snapdragons), Cosmos, Salvias, Gaillardia, Nigellas, Malope trifida, Cornflowers, Sweet peas, Larkspur, Ammi majus, Cerinthe, Scabious  Salvia viridis (annual clary sage), Heleniums – the list is almost endless. What’s more, annuals are generally cut-and-come-again – the more you cut them the more flowers they create as the plants are not putting their energy into creating seed heads.

Add unexpected additions from your border – perennials, tendrils of climbers, alliums, lilies, roses and seedheads. We also grow many different dahlias at The Garden House which make wonderful cut flowers and can be used in many different flower combinations adding drama, scale and colour.

Foliage too is important – cut delicate twiggy branches from shrubs such as pittisporum and young eucalyptus, or use bronze fennel or the limey-green Euphorbia oblongata.

There are all sorts of clever ways to keep flowers that have been cut lasting longer in the vase – searing with boiling water, crushing etc  – but frankly who has the time. Treat your cut flowers as a transitory pleasure, if they survive only a few days, so be it, enjoy them while they last and then cut a new bunch!

Think of the cutting garden as a functional space, You’ll need to find a part of the garden that’s sunny, maybe slightly tucked away; make sure the beds are not too big, so that you can step into the bed or stretch across to cut, and don’t forget to consider a good water source (preferably collected rainwater) for periods of drought.  The RHS website offers some useful advice.

Plan ahead for next year by ordering your seeds – we sell many different types at The Garden House shop just email us and we can post to you.

If buying seeds online Derry Watkins’ Special Plants Nursery is a great source of slightly unusual seeds, also Sarah Raven’s website is a good source (her book The Cutting Garden is both inspiring and practical).

If you simply don’t have the space but love the idea of having bunches of fresh garden flowers in your house (rather than those flowers flown in from Europe and beyond), or for a special occasion such as a wedding, then consider buying from local cut flower sellers. Among others, consider Sussex Cutting Garden, Sweet Peas Direct, or The Real Flower Company.


Hardy and Half-hardy Annuals – When to Sow

Posted by editor on Sunday, 4 March 2012

Hardy Annuals – are plants with a life cycle of one year that will tolerate the frost and can be sown without heat and will be fine to leave outside, though preferably with some shelter.  Examples of these would be Nigella and Cornflowers. You can sow them in September/October or from now until end March. Some, such as sweet peas, are best grown in modules to avoid root disturbance.  Most make great cut flowers.

Some vegetables have hardy varieties that are fine to leave outside in the cold weather – I have just picked some salad leaves, mizuna, mibuna, giant red mustard and pak choi that have been growing in the veg plot quite happily, unprotected, during all this cold weather.  You can also get hardy broad beans, such as Aqua Dulce Claudia, and onion sets that will be fine outside during the winter.

There are also some lettuce varieties that do well outside. The following all survive in Brighton (if you live somewhere cooler and wetter, try these in pots or window boxes sheltered against your shed or grown in a greenhouse if you have one). Try ‘Green Oak Leaf’ – if you pick it carefully, just harvesting a few outside leaves at a time, you should be able to pick from six to eight weeks from sowing, right through the winter. Then, as spring begins, it really pushes out a ton of leaves from early March until at least the end of April. The same applies to the red-coloured ‘Cocarde’ which being red also keeps off the slugs and snails – for some reason they don’t seem to be attracted to red veg! The American variety, ‘Black Seeded Simpson’, is a surprisingly hardy variety with a lovely texture and taste, and the famously winter-hardy lettuce ‘Valdor’ is soft, rounded, and delicious.

These should keep you in salads through the winter.

Half-hardy Annuals – are plants that will not tolerate the frost and need heat to germinate (around 20ºc).  Their life cycle, at least in our climate and like the hardy annuals, is one year from germination to dying. These include veg plants such as tomatoes, chillies, aubergines, peppers, runner beans, courgettes, sweet corn, and many of the brassicas – cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli.  There are also many half-hardy  flowers, often used in containers or bedding such as Petunias, Impatiens, Lobelia.

With half-hardy annuals the important thing is timing – some plants, for example chillies and Petunias, need a really long growing season and so, if you have a propagator, it is a good idea to sow them now.  This will allow plenty of time for them to mature and you will be more likely to get good fruiting and flowering in the summer as they will have had maximum time to receive as much light and heat as possible.

Other plants, such as Cosmos, nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet corn and courgettes, germinate and grow quickly, as do runner beans so leave these and sow them later on in March or April.  They won’t be safe to plant outside until danger of frost has passed, around mid May in this part of the country, and so if you sow them too soon you will have a kitchen full of sprouting runner beans with nowhere to put them!  The chillies and aubergines and other slow growing things, that you are sowing now will need to be kept somewhere frost free until mid May to – so bear that in mind and don’t sow too many seeds!

As with so much in the garden, planning is vitally important – be realistic about what you can manage – allowing for a few failures and some to give away.

At the Garden House we have seeds of many of the above for sale, so do contact us if you would like to purchase some.

We also have a workshop on Growing Your Own Cut Flowers on Saturday 21 April so do come along and learn how to make your own cutting garden.

We love: Ammi majus ‘Graceland’

Posted by editor on Thursday, 14 July 2011

Our plant of the month for July is the hardy annual Ammi majus ‘Graceland’ which has been attracting a lot of attention at the Garden House for several weeks now. It really is a favourite – a ‘good doer’ and its dark green feathery foliage makes the perfect background for an unusually long lasting display of flat, lace-like heads of dainty white flowers opening from green buds.

The upright plants are ideal amongst perennials or other tall annuals, and are especially attractive to bees, butterflies and other insects. They also make valuable cut flowers where they bring a lightness and airiness to displays of bolder flowers in pastels or brighter shades.

Ammi is really easy to grow from seed – we sowed ours in a cold greenhouse in September, they were then potted on into 9cm pots and kept outside over winter to harden off in the cold frame.This makes for a very hardy plant and this treatment has really paid off as they have been in flower for about 8 weeks now.   Ammi are about 1.4m tall and hold themselves up well against other plants but need staking if they stand alone.

Just to note for future reference – we will be selling the seeds of Ammi at The Garden House from September!