BRIAN KIDD: Let the children play with a madding crowd of hardy annuals

This week's article is inspired by Margaret.

Saturday, 17th September 2016, 6:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 3:00 pm
From little acorns mighty gardeners grow.

She has just been allocated an allotment measuring 90ft by 15ft and her small children want a strip at one end about six feet wide where they want to grow flowers.

I know many of you like to grow flowers from seed, so I am killing two birds with one stone this week.

Of course, the children have gone back to school, but this weekend they can help you in the garden and plant seeds of hardy annual flowers. Remember, children like to see things happen quickly but this week will give them something to look forward to as we are going to plant some hardy annual flower seeds at the lowest possible cost.

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Hardy annuals are plants that are sown now to flower next summer. They will give a carpet of colour for many weeks and are often referred to as cottage garden plants.

Dig a border to the depth of a garden fork and then rake over the area to a depth of four inches. Use the rake so the soil is nice and fine and then apply a dressing of fish, blood and bone fertiliser using two ounces per square yard. Then rake again to ensure the fertiliser is well incorporated into the top four inches of soil.

Now, this is the fun bit...

Give the children a broom handle and ask them to make jigsaw puzzle shapes by pushing the handle’s tip into the border. Encourage them to imagine how the colours will look. Show them the pictures of the flowers and ask them to look at the height of the blooms. This will cause some arguments, but if you don’t have the amazing experience of grandchildren go to the next step.

Hardy annuals, which can be sown right now for flowers next summer, are: larkspur; pot marigolds, which have the botanical name of Calendula which means they flower every month; godetia; love-in-a-mist; cornflowers and lots of others. A seed catalogue will help you find them.

So, the soil has been raked, the fertiliser has been raked in and the areas have been defined. Now is the time to sow the seeds.

Just put little pinches of seeds about four inches apart into the defined areas and then water the border. In three weeks there will be a mass of growth including weeds.

If some of the flower seed doesn’t germinate, thin out some of those which are successful to fill any gaps.

Wait for another fortnight and then remove the weeds.

You will see the weeds are all the same over the whole bed but the flowers have their own type of foliage. This is where the children help. Just show them the weeds and they can tease them out and put them into a bucket.

When the job is finished everyone can enjoy an ice cream.

Why not pour some bramble jelly over the top of vanilla ice cream, it’s a delight!


If you have seedlings of forget­-me-­not plants invading the garden, dig them all out and put them all together in one border planted five inches apart.

You have now saved some money so treat yourself to some pink tulips and plant these in between the forget-­me-­nots for a tasteful display next spring.