Welcome to this weeks ‘In A Vase On Monday’, when I am link up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase every Monday.
This week feels a bit like I am cheating, as I am using my greenhouse grown sweet peas again. These flowers are so lovely that I feel I really need to make the most of them – if for no other reason than to encourage all of you with greenhouses or polytunnels to think about giving this winter variety of seed a try in the autumn.
The winter varieties of sweet pea seeds that I bought from Owl’s Acre Sweet Peas are sold by colour – I chose packets of rose, pink, white and lavender seed. I think the brighter pink is the rose variety and this is producing the most flowers at the moment. The paler pink and lavender varieties were slower to start producing but are picking up now, whilst the white is just getting into its stride.
Also in this weeks vase I added a huge flower of Ammi Majus and a few stems of Orlya – both growing in the greenhouse as the outside plants are not yet in flower. I bought the seeds for these flowers from Sarah Raven and they act as great fillers in a vase. Finally I included some stems of the beautiful cerinthe major, which has overwintered outside and is looking glorious in the borders.
These winter varieties of sweet peas have been in flower since mid April and are still producing flowers on very long straight stems. The flowers are pest free and smell delicious. I will see how my outdoor crop produces this year, but if they are covered in pollen beetle again I might be tempted to switch to just growing sweet peas in my greenhouse. I have about 10 plants in the greenhouse right now, which are producing enough flowers for 2-3 large jugs a week – ample to keep me in sweet peas in the kitchen and to have enough over for a few posies to give to friends.
I am also delighted with my experiment of leaving a few plugs of hardy annuals in the greenhouse when the rest were moved out to be hardened off in March. This year I only kept behind Ammi Majus and Orlya plugs, but next spring I think I will include some larkspur, nigella and cornflowers in this experiment. I do not have room to grow more than one or two plants of each in my greenhouse bed, but early in the season any extra blooms are a joy and they go so well with the sweet peas.
The two photos above are close up shots of Ammi Majus. Below is the similar but smaller flower Orlya, with a stem of Cerinthe Major which is popping up throughout my borders this year. Fortunately the foliage of germinating cerinthe is distinctive, so very easy to recognise when you are weeding.
I am so used to picking my sweet pea flowers now that it is easy to forget what a treat it is to have this lovely flower so early in the year. My outdoor sweet peas are still a few weeks from flowering. Once they get going though, they grow and produce at such a rate in the warmer summer temperatures that it is often hard to keep up with picking them. In the greenhouse I have had a manageable flow of flowers – easy to keep on top of when I pop in to do the daily watering. Even in the third month of flowering these sweet peas are still not setting seed!
So, have I convinced you to give these early flowering varieties a go in your greenhouse next winter? Do let me know what you think.
Finally for today I can announce the winner of this months Giveaway draw. The two packets of foxglove seeds kindly donated by the team at Sarah Raven have been won by Joanna@edinburghgardendiary – if you email me with your address Joanna I will get them in the post to you. I must say a big thank you to Sarah Raven for agreeing to sponsor this months Giveaway!
This Giveaway is the perfect reminder to us all to order our biennials without delay. Seed can be sown this month either direct in a seedbed or in trays under cover. For small quantities I think it is easier to sow in trays and then just prick out and grown on as many plants as you need. Sowing direct is much easier if you want larger quantities, but you must remember to thin out the seedlings and keep them well watered throughout the (hopefully) drier summer months.
Thank you as ever to Cathy for hosting this lovely meme – I hope you will pop over to her blog to see what she and the others have made this week!