perch hill

Ready, steady, sow

At this time of year, I love to spend my evenings poring over seed catalogues, searching for new and heritage varieties of plants and imagining my garden as a mini Great Dixter-meets-Sissinghurst-meets-Barnsley House.

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I love romantic old-fashioned scented sweet peas, delicate lacy wild English flowers such as Orlaya grandiflora, Cosmos bipinnatus, Scabiosa in pure white as well as the deepest, bruisiest plum…

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Tonight I’ve been swooning over the poppies and flowers from the genius cut flower specialist Sarah Raven. Not only does she pioneer old English garden varieties, she also loves bold and blowsy planting schemes that conspire to create a ravishing and heady display, that can be grown for a few pounds, from seed, in just 12 weeks.

So, here’s my latest haul (I hope my husband doesn’t read this post!).

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Ammi majus (Bishop’s flower) – as close to the clouds of frothy cow parsley that line country lanes as you can get in a formal garden.

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Scabiosa atropurpurea (White) – a pin cushion white cenre with a fluttering tutu of white petals that stand on tall slender stems.

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Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’ – Simply the most simple, graceful white cut flower that’s a must in any garden, or vase for that matter. And it’s so easy to grow!

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Cerinthe major ‘Pupurascens’ – the shower of bell-like flowers annual honeywort is the colour of sloe berries is topped with a silvery green hood. I’ve struggled to grow these in the past but they are so gorgeous that I will persevere again this spring.

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Hibiscus trionium – I haven’t grown this before, but the pale ivory-green flowers with a deep crimson-black centre have seduced me into trying it- the paper lantern seed pods will look good into autumn, too.

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Lagurus ovatus (Bunny’s Tail grass) – I always worry that I garden in an “all fur coat and no knickers” kind of way, by which I mean all annual flowers and no foliage of shrubs, not that I’m some kind of exhibitionist gardener. So, I thought I’d try this grass as a counter-point to the flowers, but that will still offer some structure and architecture as well as a natural meadowy look.

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Nigella papillosa ‘African Bride’ – I love the contrast of white and black in the same flower, so this pure white petal with its inky blue centre and fronds of feathery foliage is drama on a stem.

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Papaver somniferum ‘Black Single’ – I hadn’t seen this wild mauve-purple single opium poppy before, but is is so sultry, I can’t wait to see it in my garden.

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Papaver somniferum ‘Dark Plum’ – bold, brave, beautiful, I plan to contrast this against the acid green foamy foliage of Euphorbia oblongata. Heavenly.

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The list I didn’t buy but still want is TWICE as long!

Once I’ve got my seedlings growing, I’ll post some pictures of my progress.

Growing your own flowers from seed is so easy, rewarding and affordable, and you can grow them even in a tiny pot. What’s more bees, butterflies and other pollinators LOVE annual flowers so everyone should find a little space in their garden or balcony to grow some.

Images copyright Jonathan Buckley, taken from

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        I LOVE sweet peas - they're so fragrant and fragile and the abundant with blooms. They make a fabulous cut flower and add height to and colour to any garden. And, best of all, they are dead easy to grow! I received this email today from Sarah Raven,…
    Tags: growing, cut, flowers, flower, love, grow, sarah, easy, garden, raven

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