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Hardy Annuals: sow now for early colour

PimlicoDan
Published on August 31st 2018

by Helen_Allsebrook. All rights reserved

Flip the growing season on its head and sow your hardy annuals now. No, I haven’t gone mad – sowing now, while the soil is still warm, will give you earlier colour and more robust plants, with the flowering season starting as early as May.
The list of names below will stand up to a typical British winter, though if you want to try others, then just research a little first, as some hardy annuals can only stand a light frost.

Blues

For blues, then Delphinium elatum 'Aurora Deep Purple' and Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) are your guys, though watch out for slugs with the former. Another delicate blue is Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella damascena), which also has striking seed pods, as does Honesty (Lunaria annua) and for contrast add Clary Sage (Salvia viridis) and Quaking Grass (Briza maxima).
Love-in-a-Mist Nigella damascena

Yellows

The Pot Marigold (Calendula sp) is so incredibly easy to grow and the flowers are so vibrant it more than makes up for their excessive self-seeding!
Pot Marigold Calendula sp

Reds

The royal family of autumn-sowing has to be the poppies (Papaver sp.). Ladybird, Shirley and opium poppies will give you a splendid show come early summer as will our iconic field poppy. Californian poppies (-Eschscholtzia californica) are a little more delicate, so a south-facing aspect would suit better.

Poppy 'Ladybird'

Papaver commutatum 'Ladybird'

Poppy

Papaver somniferum

A close up of a orange Eschscholzia californica flower

California Poppy

Eschscholzia californica

When buying your seeds remember to check growth instructions for spacing and eventual size as varieties vary widely. Prepare your soil to a fine tilth ensuring it’ll remain well-drained throughout the wettest months and, depending on personal preference, either scatter-sow or sow in lines, with a view to thinning-out later on.

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