I like nothing better than trawling through the new seed catalogues picking out what to grow next year – but the choice can be overwhelming.
That’s where I come in – here are the flower seeds that caught my eye for 2019. Themes inevitably emerge- this year, sweet peas, climbers and vivid colours. Enjoy!
Sweet pea Duvet Mix
Bred especially for blanketing the ground with fragrant colour.
Easy to grow and longer flowering than most – ideal for baskets for a different summer container display. Height: 30cm (12”). Spread: 38cm (15”), £2.49, www.thompson-morgan.co.uk
Nasturtium Bloody Mary
Blood red blooms with a flecked colour pattern and peppery, watercress taste.
Flowers July-August. Height 20-30cm (8-12”); spread 20-30cm (8-12”), £2.99, www.suttons.co.uk
Poppy Black Swan
Double and semi-double frilled blooms on burgundy and black flowers have finely cut petals that will dance in the breeze, £2.
Rob Smith Collection, www.dobies.co.uk
Sweet pea Chiltern Seeds Pink Champagne Mix
This is a new creamy, blush, corally mix (includes Juliet, Heaven Scent and Valerie Harrod), 8ft (2.4m), £2.75, www.chilternseeds.co.uk
Erysimum Jumbo Orange
Bred by Plant World Seeds, these wallflowers should produce unique, enormous, hardy perennial plants with stout stems, almost trunks, in their second year.
They will produce a long-lasting display of fragrant flowers, predominantly orange, deeper-veined in red, but you will invariably discover plants with other colour shades, £2.95, www.plant-world-seeds.com
Morning Glory Party Dress
Large flowers, noticeably earlier than other varieties.
Vigorous climber, ideal for covering trellis or fences. Flowers the same year as sown, height 10ft, £2.35, www.mr-fothergills.co.uk
Cornflower Classic Magic
A quick and easy-to-grow mixture in a highly unusual, harmonious blend of colours.
An ideal filler for the border and for cut flower displays.
Height 90cm, £2.35, www.johnsons-seeds.com
Sunflower Suntastic F1
A dwarf sunflower at just 18” tall with a branching habit producing numerous large golden yellow flowers each with contrasting, black centres.
The perfect centrepiece for large containers, £2.89, www.dtbrownseeds.co.uk
Sweet pea Timeless
A white, classic sweet pea which has frills in abundance and a sweetly scented perfume.
These are available from Matthewmans, £3, www.sweetpeasonline.co.uk
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jobs to do this weekend
Pruning and renovation of many deciduous trees, shrubs, and hedges can be carried out from now throughout the dormant season. It is easier to see what you are doing when the branches have no leaves. A suitable example is beech. Exceptions are tender plants, and also Prunus species (e.g. ornamental cherries, plums, and almonds), as these are vulnerable to silver leaf if pruned in the autumn or winter. Evergreens are best left until the spring.
If there is snow in your area, then you may need to brush this off the branches of conifers. Heavy snowfall can splay branches and spoil the shape of the tree.
Phytophthora root rots can cause dieback on mature trees and shrubs. Wet winter weather and poorly drained soils are likely to encourage this problem on susceptible woody plants.
Rabbits, deer, and squirrels can be a nuisance as the weather gets colder, gnawing the bark from shrubs and trees. Placing guards around new woody plants is advisable.
Cyclamen can be sown now, with a bottom heat of 12-15°C (54-60°F). They will need about 14 months to produce flowers.
Maintaining some air movement in the greenhouse or conservatory, even when the weather is cold, will help to reduce problems with fungal diseases such as Botrytis (grey mould). Opening vents slightly (but not enough to create damaging draughts) in the morning, and then closing them in the early afternoon to conserve heat, will offer enough ventilation to help keep fungal problems at bay.
This is a good time to clean all your old pots and seed trays so that they are ready for next spring’s flurry of activity. Thorough cleaning will cut pest and disease problems and will make your propagation and sowing yield much greater.
Now is a good time to consider installing garden lighting, water pipes, and drainage, and to make plans for garden projects.