Thursday, November 12, 2009

Seeds! Seeds! Seeds!

Ooooooh! The RHS's seed list for 2010 has been published!

One of the many great things about being an RHS member is that every year you get to choose 20 packets of seed collected from RHS gardens for the princely sum of 60p each. And they're mostly quite unusual, so you get to pack your garden with some choice lovelies for next to nothing.

There are annuals and biennials on the list - including things like sweetpeas, though not your average Spencer hybrids - but I use it mostly as a chance to indulge my irrational desire to raise perennials and shrubs from seed. This takes ages, isn't always successful (actually, isn't very often successful), and you generally end up with, say, 30 pokeweeds of which you need maybe two or three at absolute most. But oh, it is such fun.

You can give away the ones you don't want (sometimes - there's a limited market for pokeweeds, I find), and besides, if you want to fill a patch of garden with a swathe of something, you need lots of plants. Swathes come expensive in the garden centre: a measly three hardy geraniums will set you back around 15 quid if you're lucky, but for my 60p paid a year or so ago for a packet of RHS seeds I now have 9 Geranium pyrenaicum 'Bill Wallis' which have been flowering their pretty little socks off in a satisfying swathe at the front of my border all summer, and will do for years to come. And I gave another 10 or so away to friends. Yes, I had to wait a while: but isn't that curious mixture of delicious anticipation and near-heroic patience a lot of what real gardening is all about?

So, though many of these won't make it through under my occasionally erratic care, and some will drive me crazy with their capriciousness over, let's see, whether or not to germinate, here's the list of plants common and not-so-common which I have a chance of looking forward to in the coming years:

Camassia leitchlinii
Galtonia candicans
Musa velutina
Aconitum napellus
Euphorbia x pasteurii
Geranium gracile
Gillenia trifoliata
Heuchera micrantha
Inula helenium
Kitaibela vitifolia
Penstemon smallii
Phormium cookianum subsp. hookeri
Sanguisorba minor
Tricyrtis pilosa
Alchemilla fissa
Coronilla valentina subsp glauca
Daphne mezereum f. alba
Pawlonia tomentosa


VP said...

I seem to have a knack of selecting those seeds which are the most challenging to germinate i.e. they need stratification or take a year to germinate, often both!

I was talking to Terry from The Botanic Nursery about my abilities in this area one day. His advice was to just leave them in a quiet corner somewhere and let nature get on with it!

Claire said...

thanks for reminding me, - I promise to fill in the form before the last minute this year. - Last year I ordered Verbena Rigida, - it came out as Verbascum, - but great plants - photos on here

The Constant Gardener said...

VP - I'll remember that. I once had a tray of primula seedlings I'd given up on, shoved them in a corner thinking "I'll get around to emptying that in a mo" and then six months later (my usual clearing-up timescale) went back to them to find dozens of huge seedlings elbowing each other out of the way.

Claire - love your blog, I've been following it for a while actually :D didn't know you were on blotanical though, I'd better get over there and do some housekeeping. Anyway, Verbena rigida is another of my favourites, as is Verbascum, so I guess either way I'd be happy! Seed-sowing is much more of a lottery: boring old vegetative propagation is just sooo predictable.

Plant Mad Nige said...

Lovely to have the seeds but I'm not sure whether seedlings from perennials with varietal names should be given the same names as their parents. I bet there are differences in your cranesbill seedlings.

The great thing about growing from seed is that there are always surprises. That, plus the pride one feels, when one has managed not to damp them off through mismanagement. I speak as one who has actually managed to damp off leeks, even - and they are supposed to be bomb proof!

Plant Mad Nige said...

Ooooh can just say, Arabella, that Bovril, thank goodness, is beefy again and tastes ever so much better for it.

I was a marmite baby but in those days, my parents had pretensions and pronounced it in the French way Maahr-meet. I grew up, putting on a Maurice Chevalier accent, every time I asked for it on toast.

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