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.