Nigella Persian Jewels

This year, I finally grew myself a cut flower patch, something I have wanted to have a go at for a while. It’s in one of the beds at my allotment garden.

It actually started in September 2019 with an offer of a hardy annual collection of seeds, suitable for autumn sowing, from Ben at Higgledy Garden .

I managed to direct sow all the seeds while the soil was still warm and they germinated quickly, some better than others.

October 2019, the seedlings are just visible coming up between the canes.

So the seedlings overwintered, with a bit of weed hoeing in between, but not changing much until the weather got warmer. I laid the canes on the ground so that I would know where to expect the lines of seedlings to come up, and so I could tell if they didn’t!

This is the plot in March, the nigella and escholtzia, Californian poppies, at the front and big Phacelia seedlings at the back.

At this point, I should have thinned out the rather crowded seedlings but it’s also the time of year when the rest of the veg patch and all my other gardens are springing into life. I was probably busy trying to prepare beds, sow seeds and control weeds, anyway, I didn’t get round to it before they were too big to transplant.

April, dahlia tubers waiting to be planted.

Fast forward to early June and we have flowers ready for picking! Lots of Nigella, Californian poppies and the wonderful smelling Phacelia. Also cornflowers and a few Calendula, pot marigolds.

I really enjoyed picking posies to give to people.
Nigella Oxford Blue
Calendula ice maiden, with the orange Californian poppies, Escholtzia, and a very few larkspur.

By August the flowers are fading a bit but I am still picking cornflowers, marigolds and Nigella seedheads. The yellow are Anthemis, a perennial I added, and the greenery from around the plot. The pink is Godetia which turned out to be big sturdy plants. I also had lots of self seeded Verbena bonariensis which was useful.

September, Antirhinum sown later and dahlias at the back.
October, lots and lots of self seeding.

October, and the dahlias are still going along with self sown marigolds and poppies which I cut back and have given a second flush. There has been lots of self seeding all over the bed, the neighbouring bed and the surrounding gravel.

Since then I have cut back and mulched the dahlias, hoping they survive the winter in the ground. I have transplanted as many seedlings as I can to various locations but also removed a lot where I don’t want them. I have also ordered another collection of hardy annual seeds!

On reflection, I have really enjoyed having flowers which I can pick without having to worry about leaving gaps in the border.

I have also liked having the space to grow annuals, it reminds me of the packets of mixed annuals that I used to grow as a child. It is quite magical the impact that a few tiny seeds can have in just one season of growth and I am planning to use more in my customer’s gardens, well I do have quite a few seeds now.

To have a longer flowering season in 2021, I have sown a few in my polytunnel to overwinter, mostly because I didn’t have enough space in the bed and I left it a bit late. I then intend to sow more successionally in the spring, and more thinly!

Ammi and Nigella in the polytunnel at home, sown rather late in the autumn but they will be ready to flower next summer.