The great thing about growing from seed, apart from the magic of seeing your little plants reach maturity, is that you can, if you want, fill large areas of garden relatively cheaply. Of course, growing form seed is not always as easy as throwing the seeds in compost and sitting back to enjoy the results; lots of things can go horribly wrong!
And plants from seed, unless they are wild species, do not always come true to type. Hence if you sow seeds off, say, peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’ (if it set seeds) would produce plants that do not necessarily look like ‘Bowl of Beauty’. But some may be even better, and that is how new plants are raised – well one way. But if you buy seeds from a seed company, who should have maintained their strains well, or kept hybrids true to types, there is a good chance you will get something you expected.
So I am delighted that the first flowers have appeared on Heliopsis helianthoides var. scabra ‘Burning Hearts’ – what a mouthful! This is a metre-high perennial with gorgeous dark purple leaves and now the first flowers are opening. They start darker and fade to orange. When there are more flowers, and next year when the plants have more than one stem, I think I will like it a lot.
I am less enamoured with the hollyhocks. The ‘Sunshine’ out of the Spotlight Series, they should be bright yellow. But those that have opened so far are distinctly primrose. As it happens they fit into the yellow and white borders perfectly well but they are not quite what I wanted. In fact one even has the audacity to be pale yellow with a pink edge! And yes, they are getting rust!
But at least it is not the disaster that is crocosmia ‘Golden Dew’ which is far less yellow than I remembered and it will have to go from this border, even if it does fit nicely with the neighbouring yellow chard which is having an orange moment too!
I was having a panic about some of the new lilies too. The buds of ‘Stonehenge’ are very pink but they have opened to pure white, as I had hoped. This is an OT lily but quite a short one. But it does smell wonderful. It is flowering so late because the bulbs did not arrive till June. I was disappointed in this and the dahlias, with the same order, are only just getting into their stride. But the lilies are performing well, if late.
But back to pleasures from seed, this colourful, if unsophisticated, mass of achillea, sown in March, under glass, and trailing/climbing nasturtiums, brings a smile and keeps down the weeds.