Saturday, August 9

Annual flower bed - an Improvement on last year.

Last year I was disappointed with my attempts to have a colourful annual flower bed. It looked like this:
Parts of the bed looked OK but it definitely wasn't what I had in my head as I was sowing the seeds.
I sowed the seed in curving irregular lines which was supposed to help when weeding. The weeds grew fast and the seeds germinated slowly if at all. On top of all that the bed was too large to even try to weed without standing on some possibly emerging seedlings so this year I had a rethink.

I still wanted an annual flower border but I decided that I would start the seeds off in pots.

I had chosen a range of seeds:
Annual cornflowers blue and mixed
Cosmos Carpet Formula
Godetia Dream Double
Larkspur Giant Hyacinth Flowered
Sweet Sultan
Orlaya
Poppy Angels Choir Mixed
Heliomeris multiflora 'Sunsplash' Goldeneye
Calendula Citrus Cocktail and Fruit Twist
Eschscholzia Jelly Beans
Cosmos - Sensation, 
Candytuft - Spangles, 
Chrysanthemun - Rainbow 

I started off sprinkling small amounts of each seed into pots - two for each lot of seeds. This was repeated several times, as seedlings were planted out new seeds were sown
Germination of most seed was very good. The exception was larkspur that produced slow and even then poor germination at each sowing. 
Once the first batch of seedlings had produced what I thought was enough growth they were planted out on the plot.

The bed designated to be used this year was smaller and narrower and was covered with weed control fabric. 

I decided to try two ways of planting, the first being to cut slits in the fabric as we do for carrots and onions. I also split up some of the clumps of seedlings
Another batch of seedlings were planted in 'cross cut' holes in the fabric. 
The seedlings grew on well using both methods.
The disadvantage of the slit method was that the fabric needed holding down and even though I have now come up with a neater way of doing this, I think nest year I will just use the cross slit method. I just cut crosses wherever I wanted to plant which created a less linear planting (although this isn't obvious in the fully grown bed. Also the slits do leave gaps for a few weeds to take hold.
So how did this work out - well I'm quite pleased with the results. As well as looking good and providing some cut flower material, the bees love it.
 Not all the plants are in full flower yet - no sign of any larkspur flowers!
Some varieties have definitely earned a place next year and others are on the danger list. Sweet Sultan and Heliomeris are going to have to make a late showing if these are to be planted again.
I also wonder if I need a bit more red. What do you think?

48 comments:

  1. "Yes" to more red! Salvias? Bergamot? Though the bed looks pretty good already. Despite the unavoidably formal look of the initial planting, the end result looks satisfyingly informal.

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    1. I want to stick to hardy annuals, Mark. The bed will 'move' next year so perennials like bergamot although would fit in are not really an option. I was thinking maybe ladybird poppies.

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  2. I think it looks superb Sue.

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    1. Thank you Jessica. The photos are a bit disappointing as the colours stand out more in real life.

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  3. Thumbs up from me, will certainly give the suppressant a go and pot up the seeds as you did. My attempt at just free sowing was ok ish but it turned into a bit of a weed fest

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    1. That was my experience of free sowing too Cpt.

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  4. beautiful, love it ... this is definitely helping me think about how I plant up my garden border (when I've finally finished digging it over) - I was wondering how to control the weeds.

    not sure you need more red, but how about some stocks for next year ... I love their heady perfume and they would compliment the planting beautifully.

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    1. I'll certainly consider stocks, Michelle.,

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  5. Lovely. It looks very natural and you've got plenty there to keep you supplied at home with cut flowers as well as attracting plenty of bees to the plot.

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    1. I love just snipping a selection of flowers with the bees buzzing around me, Jo

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  6. Looking good Sue. I'm with Michelle. scented stocks would be nice and perhaps some mini sweet peas.
    Gill

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    1. Stocks maybe Gill but I already have a whole 'wall' of sweet peas and can only just keep up with picking them

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  7. I think it looks really good. In practice, it's a lot harder to achieve the desired effect than the seed merchants imply on the packet. After a disastrous result sowing annuals last year, I gave it a miss this year but the garden in summer lacks something without them.

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    1. I haven't any in the garden, L but growing them in pots in would be easy to use them to fill gaps amongst the perennials.

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  8. It certainly looks great this year.

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  9. It looks stunning Sue. Our flowers are over with the exception of the dahlias.

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    1. I'm dead heading like fury to try keep things going Victoria.

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  10. Really attractive bed of hardy annuals there Sue. Although I do not do much with annuals, not enough sun, I think we sometimes expect too much from them as we grow them all like a single genus "popular hardy annual" whereas in fact they come originally from a variety of different habitats.

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    1. Thanks Rick - the one I had most trouble with was larkspur which you may note is nowhere to be seen.

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  11. My attempt at free sowing wildflowers was a complete fail. I like what you did here and am going to think more about how I can use some of your ideas. Will you save seeds for next year?

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    1. I grew ox-eyed daisy - which is a wild flower - this way, tpals. It is producing a second flush of flowers and is great for cutting. Just as lovely as a cultivated flower. I'm never organisesd enough to collect and save seed and I'm never sure the seeds will come true or revert in some way.

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  12. It's beautiful Sue, you must be so pleased with it. I'm a big fan of red, everything from vivid reds through to rich plummy ones, so yes, more red might be nice. A Bishop of Llandaff dahlia maybe, although I recall you and dahlias have gone your separate ways. No doubt there are some lovely red annuals you could try.

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    1. You do remember rightly CJ but we relented and bought some singles including the Bishop which is planted elsewhere and is lovely. I think the Bishop would grow too big in amongst this mixture though and dominate.which has a more wispy look. Although I don't think the dahlias would combine well in the bed they look good with one or two combined with the hardy annuals in a vase.
      We are hoping having just a few dahlias will mean we look after them over winter better.

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  13. Oh I think it looks lovely - I never have any luck with Larkspur either I have tried several years now I think the slugs get to them fairly quickly - I won't bother again. I had some red Snapdragons this year which look a treat (and the slugs don't go for them).

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    1. The larkspur seeds grow in pots didn't even germinate well Elaine. I'm told it works better sowing them in autumn so I may try that. Tall red snapdragons - now that could work.

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  14. I think it looks so nice. I have just ordered a wildflower pollinator blend (I'm in New Zealand, so will be sowing soon), and I hope it looks this good!

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    1. I hope it works well for you doubledigg

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    2. I just had a quick look at your blog and will go back later for a real browse. Maybe you can 'virtually' keep my gardening spirit going through winter

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    3. I planted out some flower seeds in a tray today after seeing you see yours in pots. I love to read your blog in our winter, it really does keep the gardening spirit going!

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  15. Sue they are beautiful as they are. I so love to see flowers on allotments as they look lovely and are so good for beneficial insects. I remember when I first had flowers on my allotment (along time a go) one old chap said to me "what do you want them there for, you should be growing veg not flowers" and another actually I needed to dig them up!......what little they knew....this just made me more determined to grow them lol

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. When we first took out first plot we were considered weird for growing herbs. When we planted fennel someone said - you'll never get carrots to grow planting lie that. Having said that they said we'd never manage to grow carrots on our site - some still maintain that even though we come away with bucketfuls of carrots most years. Hope that I haven#t tempted fate/

      As for flowers I have ideas to plant up the same sort of thing under the pear trees nest year.

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  16. By the way I love the style of your flowers bed. Mixing of so many colors looks so beautiful. Maybe red and bright yellow color will make the bed more striking

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    1. Thank you Endah. I'm thinking of some taller calendula for next year which will give more yellow and oranges,

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  17. I think it looks wonderful Sue, perhaps some tall red or orange next year, but really, looks great. I don't see what you are using for supports?

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    1. There are no supports, Janet so maybe once Bertha hits these parts the bed will be flattened

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  18. I think it looks great the way it has come together. Interesting way you created it and seems to have worked well.

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    1. t has worked well, Kelli I'm thinking just the cross slits next year.

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  19. Your new plan worked out so well. Your annual border looks wonderful, the larkspurs should be flowering by now, may be slugs found them.

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    1. They just never got going, Janneke

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  20. It looks perfect to me, really colourful and lush, and good to know it's useful for wildlife.xxx

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    1. It's quite a noisy border at time, Snowbird - lots of buzzing

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  21. I think it looks fabulous. Everybody should have a flower border on their allotment.

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    1. I agree Kerry - we have flowers in a few areas of the plot.

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  22. That's beautiful row of flowers! So vibrant and colourful!

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    1. Thank you Malar - the recent windy weather gave it a bit of a battering.

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  23. Thanks for linking back to this from your 2015 'kick off' post. The penultimate photo is an absolute delight, and those little pots of newly germinated seedlings are just wonderful eye-candy at this time of year :}

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    1. We loved that bed last year and there was plenty of cutting material.

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