I wonder if you have ever heard of calceolaria?
This beautiful half hardy greenhouse plant is an annual, which means it will die after it flowers.
It doesn’t need a lot of heat but the greenhouse needs to be frost-proof.
Seeds are sown at this time of year and, because we are all so busy, we forget about them. But what a special treat to see them when the balloon-shaped flowers appear this time next year.
Seeds germinate well when they are sown in earthenware clay seed pots.
These are not so deep as ordinary pots and you will find them at all garden centres.
Here is what to do. Use a jam jar with a lid and pour the seeds into the jar.
Add just a teaspoon of sharp sand, put the lid on and shake the sand and seeds together for five minutes.
This odd idea makes sense because once the seeds are bombarded by the sand, the seedlings arrive like magic.
Sow the seeds and sand together, but do not cover the surface with additional compost because these seeds germinate well in the light.
Once large enough to handle, each seedling is pricked out into a three-inch diameter pot and once that pot is filled with roots, each one is repotted into John Innes number 3 compost with 20 per cent extra sand mixed in.
It is very important not to firm the compost because the plants will die.
Grow the plants on in the greenhouse and at this time next year you will be rewarded with the flowers which children love to squeeze and pop!
There is another plant which we often overlook and that is the thunbergia. But, goodness me, I saw them at Keydell nurseries last week.
This annual climber is a forgotten gem. The everyday name is Brown-eyed Suzy
This lovely climber is in the right-sized pot all ready to be put into a window. The flowers are like polyanthus blooms – golden yellow with a dark brown centre.
It can also be planted out into the garden in a sunny place – wow!
The best way to ensure a brilliant show of flowers is to push three six-foot long canes into the soil around the root and tie the tops together like a wigwam.
The climbers will rapidly grow and by the end of July, the tips will reach the top and an explosion of flowers appears from top to bottom.
Do you like growing unusual plants? Have a go and everyone who looks at your garden will ask you what it is.