TYPES OF FLOWERS WHICH CAN BE RAISED FROM SEED
Most amateurs are bewildered by the different types of flowers which can be raised from seed. This is because in some casesare treated as half-hardy and deviations from the general rule make The distinctions between the types rather obscure. The following, however, are the main classes and their usual method of culture.
These are sown out of doors in March or April, where they are to bloom. They flower the same summer and die in the autumn after flowering. A good many of theseed themselves quite readily, and that is why in subsequent years you will find a batch of young round the spot where last summer’s flowers were. As already mentioned, gardeners sometimes sow their hardy annuals in the autumn to ensure stronger plants for blooming the next summer. This is not of course possible in very cold districts, and there is also the chance of complete failure, but if a proportion of the seed is saved for spring sowing, it is worth the gamble.
These, like the hardy annuals, flower and die in the one year, but they are not hardy enough in this country to be sown straight out of doors until late in the spring. For this reason they are sown in boxes in the greenhouse, cold frame, or just under a sheet of glass, in February or March, and then transplanted into the garden in late April or early May. Zinnias, Nemesias, Asters andDrummondii are flowers of this type, and these are flowers that may be seen on the hawkers’ barrows or in nurserymen’s shops in spring. Many small-garden owners who have little time or space to raise their own, buy the boxes of young plants from these sources, and if planted firmly and well watered in they are quite satisfactory. When choosing your plants. However, look for those that are a good green, not tinged yellow. Also look for sturdincss and avoid leggy plants, for these latter have been hardened off too quickly or grown under bad conditions and will never make really good plants.
These are plants which normally complete their life circle in two years. They are usually sown in June in a shady corner of the garden and transplanted to their permanent quarters in September. A better plan is to sow the biennials in April or May and transplant them to a nursery bed during the summer. This method gives much better, stronger plants. If the plants are wanted for early spring blooming with bulbs, as for example Wallflowers, Polyanthus and Forget-me-nots, these can be put in in the autumn at the same time as the bulbs. Biennials also seed themselves, and unless killed by sharp frosts will usually live for two or three years. To be sure of good results, however, most gardeners sow biennials afresh each year, especially if they are required for a display position in the garden. In the flower border it would not matter if the Sweet Williams were killed off. Annuals could easily be sown to fill the gap, but in a formal bed in the lawn, such a loss would be disastrous. To make bushy plants of the various biennials such as Wallflowers and Antirrhinums, the centre of the plants can be pinched out after they are established in their permanent beds. This makes side shoots develop and thus a uniform effect is obtained for the formal display. A little straw laid round biennials, or the use of cloches, will often save them from frost.
Many of the well-known flowers of the summer borders can be raised from seed, and this method is of course much cheaper than buying plants. It constitutes a very economical way of stocking a new garden. One point to remember is that varieties rarely come true from seed, but there is also the chance that you may find a new colour amongst your plants., Armeria, Hollyhocks, etc., can all be sown in summer in an odd corner of the garden, in rows, for convenience, and then kept thinned out and watered until ready to transplant to the border in September, Some of these plants may take two to three years to come into bloom, but the majority will flower the year after sowing.
The seeds of Alpines are best sown as soon as they are ripe. If this happens to be in late autumn, as it is in a few cases, defer sowing until the following spring, March is the best time. Alpine seeds are very tiny, so a especially prepared seed-bed is necessary for success. Rake a sheltered corner of the garden level and bring it to a fine tilth. If possible a layer of finely-sifted loam, leaf-mould, sand and lime in equal parts should be spread over the surface about 3 in. deep. Do not include the lime if you are sowing plants which are peat loving. Make a firm bed for the seeds by making the drills with the edge of a straight piece of wood pressed into the raked. The drills should not be more than J in. in depth and about 6 in. apart. The merest sprinkling of soil is all that is necessary to cover the seeds, but protection from hot sun by means of cloches is beneficial. Water the seeds and keep them thinned and weeded; otherwise they can be left alone until required for . An easier method of sowing is to mix fine sand with the seeds before sowing, and then a covering of soil is not required.
Shrubs and Trees
The general rule forapplies also for shrubs and trees. The main thing is to keep the seed-bed shaded during early growth. This is because in their natural state tree and shrub seedlings are sheltered by the parent trees and very little sun or light reaches them as a general rule. The best time for most seed sowing of this kind is February. Different seeds require different treatment. Chestnut and similar fleshy seeds must be sown as soon as they fall or else kept moist until sown. can be raised from its berries by mixing sand with them and leaving the heap exposed to the weather for a year. This treatment gradually rots away the outer covering so that the seeds are released. Sow the seeds and sand together in drills and keep covered with a cloche until the seedlings are a few inches high.
USE OF FLOWERS FROM SEED
The annuals and biennials which we can have in our gardens at so little cost can be used in many ways to add to its beauty. A good many people think of annuals as leggy, untidy occupants of the garden and not worth the trouble involved. Think for a moment, however, of the variety of uses to which they can be put. There are bedding plants,, edging, plants, greenhouse and room flowers, plants for screening and plants for the mixed flower borde.
Let us take bedding plants first. Hardy andand biennials can be used for this purpose and, if the colours are selected with care, very charming effects can be obtained. A careful study of the seed catalogue will give you many suggestions, only be careful to note the heights and habits of growth so that you get a balanced effect. Orange Marigolds look very well with Blue Annual Larkspurs and an edging of Ageratum, mixed with Candytuft or White Alyssum, to give but one example.
Some of the finest climbers are to be found amongst the annuals, and they are a decided boon to the owner of a new garden, for they will cover his fences the first season with bloom while the more permanent climbers are coming along more slowly. Amongst these flowering climbers are, Morning Glory, Nasturtiums and Hops. Tall annuals such as Sunflowers can also be used to screen out an unfinished part of the garden for a year.
Hundreds of annuals can be obtained in dwarf form suitable for edging plants. There are vivid red and orange Tom Thumb Nasturtium, dwarf Godetias, which look just like small bushes of, dwarf Heliotrope and others, better known, such as Ageratum and Alyssum. These can also be used for carpeting. Rose beds look much less bare if carpeted with a tiny annual chosen to harmonize or contrast in colour with the main variety in the bed. An edging of Scarlet Flax or Eschscholtzia adds a great deal to the charm of the path through the vegetable or fruit garden.
In the Rock Garden
Annuals can be scattered on a new rock garden to make a quick show: and for long after the alpines have been put into place you will have interesting odd flowers coming through each year. The Swan River Daisy, Brachycome, is an interesting flower for such a place. If the path through the rock garden is of odd or crazy paving, a few seeds of annuals scattered amongst them will make a flower-decked path very quickly. Other paths in the garden can be treated in the same way, but, if they are in constant use, see that the seeds, as far as possible, are kept to the sides, otherwise walking will be impeded.
In Town Gardens
Even if your garden is of the tiniest and consists of pots and boxes, you will find these flowers from seed invaluable.
For one thing they can be sown freshly each year and are not asked to try and stand through the trying conditions of town winter weather. Annuals sown two or three in a pot for house decoration are very beautiful, and a greenhouse can be kept in beauty throughout the year by their aid.
In the Mixed Flower Border
Where casualties occur in the flower border, owing to the hunger of the slug or similar reason, a patch of annuals will save its bareness through the summer. Colours can be chosen to harmonize with the general scheme and the border be none the worse for its loss.
Annuals can also be used to bring fragrance to your garden. The Night-scented Stock sown under your house windows is almost invisible during the daytime, but after sunset its pinky-mauve petals will open and the air be filled with perfume. The Tobacco plant, now obtainable in pink as well as white shades, is another flower which gives its fragrance when the dews are settling, together with the yellow Evening Primroses. Such flowers should not be given an important place in the garden but, scattered amongst showier plants near a favourite seat, they will delight you in the cool of the evening. Flowers which are showy as well as scented are the Stocks and Wallflowers, the Sweet Peas and the old-fashioned Mignonette, which can now be obtained in giant spikes, much more showy and just as fragrant as the older varieties.
Many of the most usefulcome easily from seed, and some of these should be included in the seed order so that they can be used as a foil for bright flowers in the garden and also in the vases. Think of the myriad types of grasses to be seen in one field and you will realize what a vast number there must be at the disposal of the gardener. These seeds should be sown very lightly, and just a mere beating down of the soil with the back of the spade is sufficient to cover them.
Besides grasses there are others with colourful foliage. There is Burning Bush or Kochia which, when well grown, makes fine specimens in the formal garden. The leaves are vivid green in summer so that the plants look like small conifers, but in autumn they turn a flaming red. It is one of the half-hardy annuals, so cannot be sown directly into the open ground where it is to grow. The ordinary vegetable Beet also gives fine foliage effects and is often seen in formal bedding schemes used as an edging.
So important have annuals become that many classes are given to them at Flower Shows. Amongst those most used for show purposes are Asters, Salpiglossis, Marigolds, Antirrhinums, Scabious and Sweet Peas.
There are one or two points which are all important when raising flowers from seed. Here they are.
Always label all seed directly it is sown. It is hopeless trying to get pleasing colour schemes when you have no idea which colour Asters you put in this box and which in that; and boxes have a strange way of getting moved accidentally, and muddled, however careful you are.
Use the hoe throughout the season. It is much better than the watering-can. Do not be afraid to sow in bold groups. Small scattered specimens do not repay in general effect the work put in to produce them.
Cut away blooms as soon as they fade. This will give you a second crop of flowers. To obtain a succession of blooms, sow two or three times a year at intervals of a week or so.