This is the perfect time to sow Biennial plants, and just a few packets of seeds will give you hundreds of flowers next year.
A biennial grows over two years, which is why you have to wait, but it really is worth it.
- the seed germinates in its’ first year, grows roots, stems and leaves
- it sensibly becomes dormant over winter
- the plant grows bigger next spring, flowers, makes seeds and then dies.
The plant spreads the seeds around, ready to start the process again, which can be a bit hit and miss depending on the temperature, rain- fall etc. The clever thing is to collect the seeds, and plant them exactly where you want them to grow.
How to grow:
Sow seeds into trays of compost, check the packet to see how deep they need to be and keep them in a greenhouse or on a bright window-sill. They’ll germinate within a couple of weeks, plant them outside directly into the garden when they have grown a few pairs of leaves. They’ll fend for themselves over winter and grow into sturdy little plants.
Some of my favourite biennials:
Sweet rocket/Hesperis matronalis:
This is the purple flowers in the photo above, it also comes in white and, as the name suggests, is sweetly scented.
Icelandic poppies/Papaver nudicaule:
They come in a range of colours with wonderfully textured petals like soft crepe paper.
These grow well in light shade, making tall spires of flowers that last for ages.
It’s a sustainable way of gardening and there’ll be plenty of flowers for cutting, just leave a few for the bees.
all images: Jill Anderson