Autumn sowing hardy annuals

This season I’m having my second attempt at autumn sowing (instead of spring sowing) hardy annuals. Last season’s efforts were cut short when winter gales cartwheeled my seed trays round the garden. The idea is to sow hardy annuals in early autumn, giving them a head start so they flower a month or so earlier than their spring sown counterparts. Its also supposed to fill the ‘June gap’ when May’s spring flowers are over but summer hasn’t yet got into its stride.

I love these Larkspur ‘Consolida Dark blue’ – everyone comments on the intensity of the colour and they have a delicate airiness while being quite wiry and tough as a cut flower. The originals are from Sarah Raven seeds but these are second generation collected from last summer’s flowers. The exact blue varies between plants, and the one pictured had delicate streaks of white. As you can see, they really add a pop of colour to a bouquet and somehow makes the pinks pinker.

I sowed in late September with great germination rates (I usually find good rates with very fresh seed) and transplanted the sturdy little seedlings into modules a few weeks after, then on into individual 3 inch pots once their feathery leaves developed.  They are now outside in my ‘tidy box greenhouse’ which lets the light in but keeps the worst of the weather out. A brick on top should keep these ones earthbound.  Ideally they would be planted out in beds by now, but the slugs aren’t to be trusted with any member of the delphinium family so I will wait still spring. 

 I also sowed ammi majus at the same time but for unknown reasons had terrible germination rates and the cornflowers have self-seeded in situ so I have left them to get on with it by themselves.

Although theses seedlings still look small on top, their roots are busy beneath the soil putting on strong growth to give them a flying start in the spring.

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