Here's a variation of the email I sent out to my mailing list customers this morning...
I realized just the other day that I haven’t been in touch with my customers lately, so I decided it was high time I extracted myself from hibernation and got on with it! Apologies if you thought I had disappeared off the face of the earth – I can assure you this is not the case. I have been flat out keeping up with all the business of family life, madly sowing seeds, pricking out, potting up and planting gardens. In fact I don’t think I’ve been hibernating at all….perhaps just wishful thinking on my part!
I've recently sown seeds of some of the plants that grow fairly fast but need the promise of early spring weather to get going quickly. I've discovered from previous years that there's not much point sowing them any earlier as they tend to sulk if the weather is too cool, even under cover. Things like Verbascum phoeniceum, in white, rose and dark purple, Silene dioca and S. alba (I think this used to be known as Melandrium), Eryngium planum including a new cultivar called 'Silver Salentino', Nepeta tuberosa (both the low and tall forms), Penstemon smallii etc, all seem to benefit from sowing now, rather than overwintering young seedlings. So I now have lots of potting to do....many of these are growing like mushrooms!!
I've just finished potting up all the lupin seedlings into punnets, so they should be ready for sale in a month or so - these are the Russell types, in individual colours, fantastic fillers in the garden as they have nice foliage and the added bonus of flower spikes that create a little vertical accent. I've also started potting up the Queen Anne's Lace seedlings, this first lot are Ammi majus 'Graceland' reputed to be particularly good for picking as they have long straight stems with less side shoots. I would think this could also make them less rumbustious in the garden! Well here's hoping anyway....I do love the wild look but Queen Anne's Lace can sometimes take wild and unruly to a whole new level. I will of course have some of the traditional variety and the green form to offer later on...
Also on the potting-to-do list is Nepeta parnassica which I think is an absolute treasure, flowering from early summer right through until early winter. Whilst it is beautiful and useful, I find better known Nepeta 'Six Hills Giant' tends to become almost too dense when it flowers, flopping terribly in the rain and smothering everything around it. In contrast, Nepeta parnassica has a less condensed form, still plenty of flower stems but they are quite upright spikes with stronger stems and a more graceful appearance. I'm looking forward to planting more of this one in my garden.
In the land of cuttings and divisions I have all sorts of different cuttings at various stages of growth, mostly Salvias, many which have recently been potted up, and there are plenty waiting in the wings as well. Cuttings can be fickle at this time of year, but with my glasshouse up and running I'm hoping they continue to grow well. I've potted up Salvia 'African Sky', S. univerticillata , S. gesneriiflora 'Compact Form' and various others, plus Penstemon 'Stapleford Gem' with its stunning mauve and iridescent blue flowers. I have a variety of Aster and Helenium divisions already done and potted, including the popular 'Lord of Flanders' - they are just waiting for some better weather to get them growing and looking good in their pots before I add them to the list. The Echinacea are still dormant of course, but I have plenty of stock to work with so am busy dividing and potting when I can. Most of them have overwintered well, any that don't make it aren't worth worrying about really as there is so much diversity of colour within the genus now that there will always be something with more natural vigour to replace those that don't make the cut. (ooh this just reminded me that I have a punnet of excitement to pot up...in the form of Echinacea pallida var. simulata - haven't grown this one before!). There's always more to dig and divide....Rudbeckia, Aster, Persicaria, Sanguisorba etc etc...a neverending list, very enjoyable though, seeing how each variety has fared in the garden. Some do better than others of course, and there are always failures or disappointments which need to be worked on.
Anyway, with the arrival of August has come the first spring bulbs. My Narcissus ‘February Gold’ is positively glowing this year. My clump has even managed to ‘stage’ its blooms so they are evenly spaced, with shorter stems at the front of the clump, gradually lengthening towards the back. I’m not quite sure how or why this has happened but I’m not complaining, they look fabulous! I’m also impressed with a newly acquired daffodil, ‘Kapiti Talisman’, a tazetta type with (usually) two flowers per stem. They are good strong flowers that seem to stand up to the bad weather very well, bright and cheerful and with a good scent too.
My clumps of Lachenalia reflexa have almost finished, but they have lasted for ages this year, having been in flower for nearly a month now. Such a stunning shade of bright lemon-yellow with a hint of green.
Anemone pavonina has just started, and will no doubt continue to put up more flowers as the season progresses. This is a stunning plant for a trough or small corner of the garden. I have three different colour forms so far, all in the pink/lilac range, and some seedlings from a red form coming on as well. I will have to save seed and get some seedlings started for selling in the coming years as they really are something special!
Here's a wee slideshow of various photos taken over the past couple of weeks, including those mentioned above, plus a different Bergenia which is looking slightly unusual at present. Last year it had large pale pink flowers....perhaps it needed time to settle in as it now has white flowers. Time will tell.
The Salvias are a mixed bunch at present – some have that distinctly ‘wintry look’ where they are basically hiding away any signs of growth until someone turns the temperature up. Others like ‘Waverly’, ‘Indigo Spires’, S. elegans ‘Sonoran Red’, S. confertiflora and S. canariensis var. alba are still doing okay, particularly if sited in a warm corner. Salvia karwinskii is just coming into bloom, about to light up my daily life with its spikes of vibrant watermelon flowers. So unique to have a Salvia that loves to flower in winter and early spring! The wee birds and bees will appreciate it too I'm sure. I quite often update my Instagram and Facebook pages with photos while I'm outdoors, but finding time to update the photo gallery on my website can be a little trickier. For those of you who use social media you can find me on Instagram as @kateseaflowers and on Facebook search for Seaflowers Nursery or click on the little blue F icon near the top of the homepage here on my website.