Sunday, 9 September 2012

The seedy truth about this blog

Le Photographe and I were sitting in a restaurant last night when he said to me, "You know one thing I like about you?  Your honesty."

I was pleased with this at first.   (Le Photographe was of course referring to my character as I don't have an honesty plant in my garden.)   Honesty is definitely something I aspire to personally; I was born and bred in Yorkshire where a spade will always be a spade and not a hand-crafted oak-barreled blunted plant division instrument.  So when I got home, I was on the patio, admiring the Cosmos in the moonlight when I realised with horror that I had grown them from SEEDS.

Now readers of this blog will know that I have previously dissed and disrespected seeds.  I made grand statements about how real people with day jobs don't have time for them, perhaps even inferring from this that I might be a high octane career woman who is so busy with board meetings she has no room in her life for seeds.  It was thus that I was even more mortified when I looked around and noticed how much stuff I have at the moment that was grown from seed.  A restless night ensued, tossing and turning, knowing I had to come on here and confess to having grown things from seed.

It isn't that bad a lie: successful seedlings here have only survived by either freaks of nature or extraordinary resilience in the face of neglect.  What usually happens is this: I plant the seeds following the instructions on the packet to the letter.  If they're lucky, they'll get potted on but then it all goes wrong.  Seedlings don't like being transplanted, no matter how careful you are not to touch the root.  The sight of rows of little wilting plants disheartens me and then I start to lose interest.  Most of them will die of dehydration at this point but a few of the tougher ones will insist on growing up until I cannot bear the sight of mature plants bursting out of their 5 cm plastic pots any longer and will have to cave in and plant them out.

Eventually therefore some seedlings did grow into mature plants.  This is not that surprising by the laws of mathematics as I probably planted thousands of seeds.  Here's a confessional of some of these hardy plants that survived my gardening.

Cosmos bipiniatus 'Purity'.  Allegedly

These Cosmos seeds came free with a magazine, thus justifying the £3.99 price tag.  I didn't think I liked Cosmos and have no idea what made me plant them other than whatever primitive compulsion drove me to sow thousands of seeds.  I am quite pleased with them now as they have added this season's must-have height into the garden.  The packet said they were white but some of them are pink and are not the species it said it was on the packet.

Scabious Pin Cushion Mix only they weren't very mixed.

Only a few of these survived to adulthood.  The packet said they would flower in June but the cruelty they experienced in their youth has presumably delayed their development as they are in flower now.  The packet showed mixed pinks and white but only the white ones grew.  An impulse buy.

Cornflower Blue Boy

As seedlings, these were on their way to the compost heap when Le Photographe flung himself into my path in the manner of someone pleading for someone's life in front of the guillotine.  A bit of staking and they turned out ok.

Poppy Cherry Glow

Another packet free with a magazine.  My dad tried to weed up the seedlings until Le Photographe (perhaps aspiring to become the patron saint of little seedlings) stepped in again to point out the little label I had planted in the ground to stop myself weeding them.  These brilliant red flowers lasted precisely 24 hours before all the petals dropped off.   They have however left some attractive seedheads (below).

Poppy seedheads

Verbena bonariensis

These were left to die in these little biodegradable pots that I had bought in a freak moment of deciding to garden organically.  The seedlings appeared to refuse to grow and were devoured by slugs when I noticed that the roots had long since eaten their way out of the pots and were practically begging for their lives.

Sweet Pea Anniversary Mix.  A severe case of powdery mildew.

Another magazine freebie - from last year's Gardener's World.  Ironically I tried quite hard with these, planting the seeds in toilet roll tubes so their roots had room to grow.  Which just shows what fickle things plants are: those love the most will pay you back with a disease.