Like many other gardeners, I have a seed tin.
Well, I have two – one for veg and one for flowers. And like many others, my tins are overflowing with old packets and strange envelopes with faded handwriting on them. The bottom of both tins has a collection of mixed seeds, of who knows what age. They’re basically a disgrace, and this year I lost it. I sorted out the packets, threw out the really ancient survivors – parsley seed from 1999 is absolutely NOT viable – and the completely unidentifiable.
I decided that the place I have always had my bamboo bean tunnel would be better used for flowers, and that the beans would cope elsewhere. So we weeded, picked stones, riddled, raked, picked more stones, raked again, removed cat crap from lovely fine tilth (aka natural cat litter), weeded, removed more stones, riddled, raked, removed yet more contributions from Next Door’s Cat (I don’t know what they’re feeding her, but it’s clearly too much), weeded again, raked again and finally scattered a random selection of seeds, all mixed up very technically in an old porridge bowl.
Eventually, despite the cold spring, things began to germinate. There was more weeding and – with awful inevitability – removing of helpful feline additions. Then everything seemed to go into hibernation for a while, but now the bed has really come into its own. And I am chuffed to bits, even if the selection was somewhat random.
There was almost a whole packet of Salvia horminium bouquet, for instance, in pink:
and there were also some Salvia nemerosa, ex-RHS seed scheme, but they don’t seem to have germinated. Or maybe the horminiums sat on their heads. There were lots of nicotiana, alata lime green and tinkerbell, but only one has appeared – though that may be due to me weeding them out at an early stage in an alarming flirtation with tidiness. There are some antirrhinums, but they’re not flowering yet, and some calendulas and papaver somniferums – all to come. There are some cosmos and what I thought were nigella (that’s what it said on the packet), but either the latter have been transformed by age or they were incorrectly packed, because that’s not what I’ve got. I’m not sure what I have got – they’ve yet to flower properly – mind, but nigella they’re not.
The most successful contribution, though, comes from a last-minute addition: a packet of shirley poppies I’d forgotten,
and I am very glad I decided to add them even though they should have been planted by the end of 2010.
Nearly went in the bin. Ooops.
I added cerinthe more systematically, but happily you can’t spot the straight lines in amongst everything else. I’d saved the seeds, and they have been a bit hit and miss in their colouring. Maybe it’s time for some new seeds next year,
ore maybe I just need to give them a bit more time to do their thing. It will be interesting to see how the colour balance changes as the shirley poppies go over and the calendulas and cosmos come on stream – I hope there aren’t any howling clashes – but for the moment everything is working together well:
even in the current heatwave (still with us; it’s as clammy out there as a changing room after a heavy match, but happily without the all-pervading smell of sock). And one last shot of lovely, lovely salvias?
Ah yes – and a dandelion. Ahem.
The heatwave – and this has nothing to do with the ex-bean bed – has had many effects on the garden, mind. And one has been the presence of grasshoppers everywhere, not just in the meadow. They’ve been in this bed, for instance, but I’ve also caught (a confused) one in the house, and several sunning themselves on paths.
I’ve been trying to identify it from my field guides, but it’s more difficult than you expect as they will keep moving and won’t pose in any useful position for photographs; their ‘song’ is cicada-like and pretty constant. Any ideas?