I adore growing plants from seed. Well, there can be disastrous times, like this Spring for example, or just ‘nil return’ after peering anxiously at the seedtray for what seems like ages. But some seeds just seem to germinate generously and readily, popping up with abandon into the world.
So, it is probably best to expect a 50/50 return- but if there are 200 seeds in the packet, you could be swamped. Two years ago, I grew 80 or so small plants of Echinacea ‘Green Wizard’ from seed, in my hubris I even sent some small plants to a friend. Hubris it was. This year, after our soaking and cold Spring, I have only seen one measly specimen come back in the garden. So, I think the best approach with seeds starts with total humbleness and then thankfulness.
This Spring, I planted out about 30 plants of Helenium autumnale ‘Helena’ which I grew last autumn. They were teeny tiny plants. but looking sturdy, and now they are bursting into flower, gorgeous yellows, orange flecks and reds, and a metre high- in fact, they are in danger from the next passing storm, so I may get round to staking them in advance. All for the price of a coffee, and a lot of humble waiting. Not bad.
The garden is moving out of its mauve phase, with some more yellows and reds starting up. Last year, in the height of a hot summer, I bought two abutilon babies, barely rooted, from an Ebay seller in Spain, at the price of another coffee. One bit the dust this Spring, but the other one is doing well, with a lovely soft, dark, matte red which seems to bring out the beautiful veining that Abutilons have. This un-named plant may be too tender to leave in the ground over the winter, so I am not going to risk it, I will dig and pot it up, along with the more cherry- red Abutilon ‘Red Trumpet’, which is also new to me this year. These are such good plants, reliable, heat-tolerant, flowering all summer into the autumn, and I adore the bell-shaped flowers.
This Heterotheca campora var.glandulissima, bit of a mouthful, has languished in the garden for the past 3 years, planted in the wrong place too near to a buddleia, and so has been a serious damp squib through no fault of its own. Goodbye buddleia, and hey presto, Heterotheca is back in town. Big, determined, fat yellow daisies with charmingly slightly reflexed petals, in a sunny yellow that is not sickly- what’s not to like? Welcome back and apologies for the poor service you have received.
Patrinia scabiosifolia is a plant I always wanted to try. It was on its last seed trial last year, having been a dud on two previous years. I managed to make it to half a dozen seedlings, the wet Spring did for two of them, and then I lost the remaining four in the garden. Lost in the sense that I planted them out as smallish plants and then couldn’t find them. Two weeks ago, they re-emerged. Well, they had always been there growing away but slightly obscured. If you can imagine a yellow Verbena bonariensis, with the same electric colouring though yellow rather than purply-blue, and a less gangly plant, a little shorter, then you have a good idea of what the plant looks like. As we speak, six seeds have germinated this year, so I may make it to a good group. I think it prefers a slightly more fertile and moist soil than Verbena so I am not taking any chances with it, now that I have it. Another coffee.
Actually, I prefer tea in almost all circumstances, but you get the drift.