New bedding

Last year I filled my formal bedding area with a profusion of annuals in a mixture of pastel shades. It was all very lovely but it completely hid the fledgling box hedge and even the formal shape. The forget-me-nots over winter were a washout and I was glad to get rid of them, dig over the beds and get something planted for summer. And after a wet May, June has been warm and dry, almost to the day, since I planted them.

I was planning to plant the bed with marigolds but changed my mind at the last minute – never a good idea. In the centre are white annual sweet Williams, surrounded by silene ‘Sibella Carmine’ and with purple alyssum at the corners. The silene is a new on on me but I bought the seeds because it was awarded a Fleuroselect Gold medal in 2020 so it has to be half decent.

It is recommended for baskets and plants should be 30cm high and 60cm wide. I have planted mine for too close if they do get that big. The plants are also supposed to be ‘self-cleaning’ and not need deadheading. The semi-double flowers should be attractive to bees but I have not noticed that they are showing a lot of interest in the blooms – but then there is a lot else to take their attention.

The plants were very easy to grow. I had less than ideal conditions this year and they had to cope with growing in a polytunnel. After a slight delay after pricking out they really grew away well once the days started to lengthen and I had to feed them to keep them healthy in their cells. It was really gratifying to have such sturdy, short-jointed, leafy seedlings.

After planting out they turned red because of the drier conditions but very quickly a few started to produce a few flowers. Now, about three weeks after planting, all are covered in flowers.

But I am concerned. All the shoots are covered in flowers or buds and I can’t see any signs of new shoots that will expand the plants. I am sure the plants were not stressed too much in the cells but I am worried that they have flowered before they have made decent plants and will only flower for a short time rather than the months I need.

Time will tell. It seems this is a plant that can be autumn sown for late spring colour, overwintered under cold glass, or used for summer. I have a nasty feeling I have treated it wrongly. That would be a shame because I like the ‘wild’ look of the plant and also like the searing pink colour. There are others in the series, with pale pink and white flowers.

I will have to revisit this and will report on whether it contrasts beautifully with the sweet Williams or is just a band of soil!

And, lastly – and I will not mention streptanthus again, I wanted to follow up on the photos of the first flowers and say that it has been successful with the bronze carex and I think it is a keeper. I can see tiny pods forming so I should be able to save seeds and I want to grow a lot more next year.

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6 Comments on “New bedding”

  1. Paddy Tobin
    June 22, 2021 at 10:03 am #

    I can never bring myself to what I consider the lost labour of growing annuals. When we started our garden here we grew loads and loads from seed but all perennials and then thinned out as we added different varieties. Perennials promise more return for time invested, I have always felt.

    • thebikinggardener
      June 22, 2021 at 5:28 pm #

      I understand but I love the satisfaction of growing things from seed. Also I have a love of formal bedding – not something I should admit I know, but as much as I love natural-looking borders I also love tidy annuals in geometric patterns – there; I have said it! I guess I just can’t say no to anything!

      • Paddy Tobin
        June 22, 2021 at 6:06 pm #

        In the gardening world, this is the equivalent of “coming out”! LOL

  2. Meriel
    June 22, 2021 at 11:41 pm #

    Each to their own I say! A photo of the Silene would have been helpful. The Streptanrhus is most peculiar looking I have to say. I mustn’t have looked at it the day you previously mentioned it.

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