Extreme weather takes its toll
I made a deliberate choice this season NOT to grow too much and buy seeds (or trial lots of new things). Instead, I chose to use up the remnants of my vast seed mountain of stock from previous years.
As a compulsive plant/seed buyer with limited land, it was one of my small ways of cutting back overconsumption.
Ironic really, because I’ve already managed to more than double the seeds I had last year through various quirks of fate. Ah well, it’s the thought that counts.
In such a fickle growing year, with a freezing spring and hot, dry summer, it seemed something of a lottery what did well and what didn’t.
Unsurprisingly, it was the tried-and-tested varieties that performed the best – Cosmos Cupcakes White and Antirrhinum Royal Bride are both still flowering as I write in November!
Here, in descending order, are this year’s annuals:
Cosmos Cupcakes White
Still the best Cosmos in my book. Undeterred by weather extremes. Tall but sturdy, fern-like foliage, large white petals fused into one single cup, some single, some semi-double, 1.2m, £1.99, https://www.thompson-morgan.com.
Antirrhinum Royal Bride
Tall, stately white-flowered variety. Great with ladies’ mantle, 90cm, part of the Sophie Conran Wildflower Garden Seed Set, £10.99, https://www.burgonandball.com/products/sophies-wildflower-garden-seed-set.
Sweet pea Lady Salisbury
(NEW) An absolutely wonderful sweet pea, cut short in her prime by Storm Callum in October. Mellow shades of cream and white with blue picotee edges and a heady scent, £2.50, http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.
Sunflower Velvet Queen
By far the best sunflower this year, mid-height, multi-headed in rich, earthy tones, £2.29, http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.
(NEW) A Mr Fothergill’s exclusive, highly scented and compact, very weather tolerant, although scent not as good as I’d expected, £2.69, http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.
Cosmos Gazebo Mix
Deep and mid-pink and white mix, 60cm. Very early flowering and more drought tolerant than Sweet Sixteen, £1.99, https://www.unwins.co.uk/.
Sweet pea Winston Churchill
Not as tricky as I’d been led to believe to germinate. Performed reasonably well but beaten into a cocked hat by Lady Salisbury, £2.35, https://www.thompson-morgan.com.
Dahlia Bishops Children
Single flowers in deep red, gold and orange with bronze foliage, 90cm. Reasonably drought tolerant in pots, £2.69, http://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk.
Marigold Strawberry Blonde
Not usually a fan of marigolds but the mix of pink, orange and russet were lovely. Performed much better in pots than in the border, where they were lamentable in the dry soil, £2.99, https://www.thompson-morgan.com.
Cosmos Sweet Sixteen
White with pink picotee edging, 90cm. Pretty but frazzled in pots. Part of the Sophie Conran Wildflower Garden Seed Set, £10.99, https://www.burgonandball.com/products/sophies-wildflower-garden-seed-set.
Sunflower Dwarf Yellow Spray
In a hot, dry spot, they just didn’t get going. When there was a spell of rain, the plants were totally mauled by slugs. Height 45-60cm, £2.99, https://www.thompson-morgan.com.
Absolutely hated my bone-dry early summer soil and never really recovered. Height 1.5m, https://www.thompson-morgan.com.