It’s a seedling special this week as I run through some of the perky green shoots that are springing up in their seed trays. I’ve got many many more to sow but even with a spacious new greenhouse it’s a good idea to pace myself to save being overwhelmed.
I organise my seeds in a cardboard box with little cardboard dividers for the sowing months. Once sown, I put the seed packet at the back of the box for reference. If I reach the end of the month and a packet remains unsown, I don’t panic, I just move it to the next month. Most seeds have a range of sowing dates anyway and for my sanity I find it important to do things when I’m good and ready.
Androsace septentrionalis ‘Stardust’
These little seedlings have been growing outside all winter. I didn’t sow these, but liberated the seedlings from around the parent plant in my alpine trough. I lots a few over the winter to what looked like Botrytis – some kind of mould anyway and the remainder don’t look massively healthy but are beginning to bulk up.
Amazingly, they’re already trying to throw up flowers which I think I’ll cut off. The flower spikes are not as spectacular as those on the parent last summer. They looked like sparkler fireworks with tiny bright white flowers at the tips of multiple stems. It’s a stunning little plant.
Cypress Vine – Ipomea quamoclit
These seedlings really surprised me as the foliage of this plant is feathery and almost fern-like. The cotyledon leaves (first leaves) that have emerged are rather bulky but actually a delightful shape. I think they look like two opposing whales tales. I’ll be interested to see what the true leaves look like when they come through. It’s the first time I’ve grown this plant but have chosen it to experiment with as an annual climber. I will probably grow some up a tripod in a pot and also some inside the greenhouse.
I’m very happy with the speed of germination of the four varieties of tomatoes which I’m going to grow outdoors. My aim is to leave more room in the greenhouse to indulge my passion for ornamental plants. I carefully researched the varieties that are likely to perform well outdoors due to their blight resistance and chose Outdoor Girl, traditional favourite Gardener’s Delight, and the more fabulously named Fandango and Lizzano. If you want to know a bit more about growing tomatoes outdoors I’ve written a summary here.
These are the best sweet pea plants I have ever managed to grow. Last year I lost many to mice so there was plenty of room for improvement. There is no doubt that having my lovely light bright greenhouse has really helped these to grow stockily rather than stretched out. Even so I have been pinching out the growing tips to help them to branch and produce lots of flowers.
Disappointingly, a variety called ‘Nimbus’ has germinated very poorly, with only 3 germinating out of 20 sown. These were the only seeds that I didn’t buy from Matthewman’s Sweet Peas and either the seeds were inferior, or it’s a trickier one to germinate. I still had some in the packet so I have sown a few more, but this time soaked them first to see if this will help. I’m still waiting…
Phlox drummondii ‘Cherry Caramel’
There’s nothing cheerier than a seed try smothered in little seedlings. These are of a lovely little Phlox that I’m growing for pots and flower arranging. Last year I bought some plug plants of a similar variety called ‘Creme Brulee’ which was very pretty, having caramel beige flowers flushed with purple centres. ‘Cherry Caramel’ is similar but has bright pink centres, instead of purple and I think I’m going to like it even better.
Pictures below are ‘Creme Brulee’ and a little arrangement I made combining these with other garden flowers for the summer flower show.
It’s very difficult to convey just how tiny the seedlings are that are beginning to pop up in these seed trays. I have 20 of these small seed trays planted up with the seeds that arrived as part of the Alpine Garden Society seed exchange. I opted for a mystery selection of easy to grow alpines. So far I have germination in four trays.
What is great about these alpines is that you can sow them as early as January and leave them outdoors. Perfect for anyone who wants to grow things from seed but hasn’t got a greenhouse and doesn’t want kitchen windowsills covered in muddy seed trays. I like to imagine little seeds strewn around a rocky mountainside, untroubled by inclement weather and possibly under a blanket of snow. It gives me the reassurance that they’re absolutely fine no matter what the weather throws at them. Indeed mine were covered in snow just a few weeks ago.
If you want to read other contributions to the Six on Saturday link up of gardeners click here to go to the page of host The Propagator.