sow and harvest Winter Hardy Annuals
When I started sowing annuals, I made an interesting discovery: many varieties seeded, and some of them bloomed much earlier and more vigorously the next year than the normal summer flowers. A sea of Nigellas was already in bloom by May, while my spring-sown ones still wouldn’t really get going by late June. What was their secret?
They were so-called “cool flowers” – hardy annuals that didn’t mind frost or cold. On the contrary: which sometimes even needed the cold for germination.
While zinnias and cosmeas must absolutely be planted out first in frost-free ground, nigellas (love-in-a-mist), poppies, annual delphiniums and many others are properly “hardy”. And if you learn to take advantage of this feature, the cut flower garden will be in full bloom beautifully from late spring. But even without a proper cut flower garden, Cool Flowers fill an important gap between bulbous plants and the actual summer flowers with their blooms. A time when most gardens tend to be drab.
How to sow Cool Flowers?
The best way is to sow the seeds outside as soon as it becomes autumn in a place protected from rain in small pots and later put the seedlings in the bed. If you missed sowing the seeds in autumn, you can also start them at the end of February/March. In cold regions, it is better to start indoors first (in a cool but bright location!) and later, from the end of March/April, directly outdoors as soon as the soil has warmed up a bit. By the way, you can actually accelerate germination if you put the seeds in the fridge a week before sowing.
For those who want endless blooms, you should then plan two more follow-up sowings: one along with the cold-sensitive annuals (plant out starting May 15) and one more in early summer (sow in late April/plant out in June).
Certain varieties like to be sown directly into the bed: poppies, nigellas and annual delphinium are among them. However, the soil should be prepared and weed-free and the seedlings should not be mistaken for such later.
I like to let a little poppy trickle into the perennial beds in September as well, it provides richness and colour when leaves are just beginning to show from the perennials in early summer.
By the way, you can find detailed instructions for seeding here.
We’ve tried to find some very special varieties for you again. Rich, screaming colours aren’t our thing, which is why this year we have what is arguably the most beautiful poppy on the planet right now: ‘Amazing Grey’ impresses in mystical grey-purple hues. Rudbeckia ‘Sahara’ has arguably the most incredible colour spectrum: deep velvet red, caramel, ochre and apricot-copper. The Larkspur ‘Fancy Smokey Eyes’ alternates between silvery white and delicate lavender, a deep purple scabiosa adds a bit of drama and the Bells of Ireland is a must in any cut flower garden. A stylish companion in any bouquet, but also beautiful solo in its architectural ornamental form.
I can’t wait to see which one becomes your favorite!
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