Colourful perennials can be such a joy

Delphiniums
Delphiniums
he South East In Bloom judges visited the Fareham area where they concluded their tour with a visit to Ferneham Hall. From left: Fiona Phillips, Stuart Lees and The Mayor of Fareham Councillor Geoff Fazackarley     
Picture Ian Hargreaves  (170760-1)

South East in Bloom judges praise standard of gardens in Fareham area

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It’s a real joy to see a collection of herbaceous perennials in a border. We have a herbaceous border at home and I’ve just finished digging all the way through, removing the bindweed which has crept in from I don’t know where!

Some people think that herbaceous perennials such as golden rod, Lobelia cardinalis and Gaillardia are quite expensive.

But at about £4 for a large pot and £1.99 for a 4in diameter pot, I don’t think that’s too bad.

When you think about it, a small pot of a herbaceous plant will flower this summer and will be twice the size next year. It’s a case of being patient.

I have lots of letters from you dear readers and you tell me you love growing things from seed. Well we’re in complete agreement on that.

I love growing things from seed and the great news is that herbaceous perennials can be grown like that. Again, you need patience.

If seeds are sown now, the seedlings will be ready to be pricked out in about eight weeks’ time.

Have a look at seed packets containing Delphinium, Pyrethrum and Peruvian lily, as these are the gems in any border.

Seeds are sown during May. They may be scattered over the surface of a box of compost, but have a look at the cells which fit into a standard seed tray and buy the 24-cell type.

Half-fill the cells with Universal compost and sow a single seed into each cell. Or, if the seeds are tiny, just a pinch into each cell.

Cover the seeds with compost, water and cover the tray with a sheet of newspaper. Keep them damp,.

Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, pot each one into a 3in diameter pot and, once the pot is full of roots, they can be planted into a border.

When will the seedlings come into flower?

If sown in the next few weeks the flowers will appear next summer. But the plants will be full of vigour and you will have saved a fortune.

If there are lots of ‘spares’, there are charities who would appreciate the plants, perhaps a car boot sale or a school near you could do with a bit of a lift with a riot of colour from your seeds.

If you have a very small garden, you may think this week’s article isn’t for you.

But if your garden is small and seems to be wet all the time, have a look for Primulas such as Primula denticulate and Primula Kashmere.

These are hybrids and will grow in mud, but if the weather changes and becomes very hot, they will both survive because they adapt to the environment.