Colours, combinations and catalogues
Anyone who is a keen gardener, especially allotment owners, will know that winter is the time to browse seed catalogues, compare varieties and order seeds for the coming years flowers, fruits and vegetables. I’ve been doing just the same, not only for my own garden but also for ideas for clients as we’ve a couple of new designs taking shape and needing some short-term colour and structure for while the shrubs and perennials get established.
Favourites are Pictorial Meadows for their combinations and flowering mixes – Pixie is one I’ve used in the past and would recommend for it’s short stature to combat windy days and the Cumbrian climate. For vegetables, Chiltern Seeds are reliable and specialise in traditional and heritage varieties. When it comes to flowers, Sarah Raven is the “Queen of cut flowers” but she’s also good for edible flowers if you’d like ideas for unusual salads or garnishes.
Seeds aren’t ideal for everyone as planting from seed can be riskier in our Cumbrian weather – the temperatures are unreliable, gardens can be thoroughly drenched with water when you least expect it and our growing season is much shorter than southern England. To help things along, I’d recommend buying plug plants rather than seeds – many of the online seed merchants offer plugs and they give you and your garden a head start as well as added reliability and predictability. Alternatively buy a coldframe to protect your seedlings - The Pot Place team can advise on this too.
Finally, if you like the social side of gardening and appreciate that local seed from local plants is going to be a good bet for your garden, there’s a Seedy Saturday event in Penrith on Saturday 25 March at the Old Fire Station. Organised by PACT and linked to Penrith Freegle, this should be a great place to buy (or swap) seeds from other local gardening enthusiasts.