logo Burngreave Messenger Issue 30 - April 2003.

Seeds for Summer
By Julian Brandram

Now that the days are lengthening and it's gradually getting warmer, why not plant some seeds to brighten up your garden? You can get really cheap, good quality seeds from Netto and Lidl, but they do sell out pretty quickly.

Annuals and perennials can be grown from seed. Some climbers are easy, for instance Clematis tangutica which has pretty, dangling, yellow, bell-shaped flowers in summer, and Clematis alpina which produces beautiful blue and white flowers in early spring. Chilean Glory Vine has small, tubular orange flowers and blooms for months on end.

Good perennials to try are lupins, which come in a lovely range of colours and grow into big clumps. Achilea, (known as Yarrow when growing wild) has flat-topped flowers in pink, yellow and white. Insects visit them for nectar and they attract hoverflies, the larvae of which eat greenflies, so they are useful as well as attractive. Coreopsis is a cheerful yellow daisy with red markings in the centre, they grow fast and should flower in the same year.

Another daisy is Anthemis tinctoria, this is white with a yellow centre. Verbena bonariensis is a must! It has tall mauve flowers held on stems about four feet tall and it flowers for ages! Some seed catalogues have a little symbol which shows which perennials will flower in the first year so watch out for these.

Annuals such as Welsh and Iceland poppies can make a vivid splash of colour. If you like dazzling colours, Mesembrianthemums and Portulacas are South African plants that will add a dash of excitement but they must have a lot of sun. Candytuft is a jolly little plant about nine inches high in soft pastel shades, it does not flower for long but will self seed and pop up again next year. Marigolds are really easy, and children love growing sunflowers.
Good annual climbers are Nasturtiums and Canary Creeper, which has small yellow flowers.

An excellent specialist seed supplier is Chiltern Seeds – Bortree Stile, Ulverston, Cumbria. Don’t forget to study the description of the plants before you start – how tall will it grow? Does it need shade or sun? Most seeds are best started off in trays of peat-free compost on a warm window ledge. Plant them out before they get too big and gradually acclimatise them by putting them outside during the day, and bringing them in at night.

Don’t forget to guard against slugs eating them. Have fun!