AS one season draws to a close, there’s the excitement of sitting next to a roaring fire, drink in hand, picking next year’s seeds from a ream of catalogues.
I love choosing new plants. it’s not just the thrill of spending money, but no matter what happened this year, next year is always going to be perfect.
I always start with a strict colour palette (but nothing can ever get round the clashing bright pink everlasting pea that just won’t die, mixed with the vibrant orange day lily).
As always, it all goes to pot and I end up a hotch-potch of hues.
Here’s the tally so far:
* Sweet Pea Hi-Scent: (HA) One of the most fragrant sweet peas, with creamy-coloured petals and violet-blue picotee edges. Height: 180cm (71in).
* Cosmos bipinnatus Versailles Tetra: (HHA) The slate-pink, 10cm (4in) flowers have a deep red zone towards the centre with a bright yellow eye. Height 91cm (36in).
* Sunflower Key Lime Pie: (HA) Clusters of small flowers with primrose-cream petals, surrounding a lime-green centre disc. Height 4-5in.
* Nasturtium Milkmaid: (HA) Almost white, featuring delicate blooms in creamy shades.
* Nicotiana x hybrida Whisper Mixed F1 Hybrid: (HHA) New this year, elegant upright flower stems above large basal rosettes of leaves, bearing flowers that fade from red to pink to white, giving the effect of three colours on each plant. Lovely evening fragrance. Height: 100cm (39in).
* Godetia Lady In Blue: (HA) Silky blue flowers, lightly scalloped with a pure white centre. Red stems and foliage.
* Ricinus communis Red Giant: (HHT – grow as HHA) I’m a sucker for a castor oil plant and this one’s new to me. It has brighter red leaves and seed heads than many other forms, producing the strongest leaf colour when in full sun and as it matures. It will grow into a tree in warmer countries. The seeds are extremely poisonous. Minimum height: 90cm, max: 1.8m.
Lastly, here’s a project that will probably die...
* Echium pininana Three Colours(H/HHP) Blue, pink and white forms of Echium pininana, which I fell in love with at the Chelsea Physic Garden. Destined for pots and overwintering somewhere sheltered, I think. Minimum height: 3m, max 4.8m (now THAT’S big).
These seeds came from Plant World Seeds, www.plant-world-seeds.com and Thompson & Morgan, www.thompson-morgan.com.