Seed Tips from Renee Shepherd

Allen: Renee, the garden looks beautiful.

Renee: Thanks, I picked some flowers to show you.

Allen: These are gorgeous.

Renee: I wanted to show you what you could grow from seed. Some old fashioned flowers come best from seed.

Allen: Here's larkspur, bishop's lace, cosmos.

Renee: Those short white cosmos are wonderful, grow quickly, you can use them almost anywhere.

Allen: White blends with any color scheme. Beautiful. This white cosmos is beautiful. Is it part of the Sonata series?

Renee: Right, Sonata, they won't get more than 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall. They are beautiful in beds and borders, but have the same big daisy like flowers as the tall ones.

Allen: You know, the first year I planted cosmos in my garden I think it was the Versailles series -they were huge. And they really got too large.

Renee: Well I think they were named for large architecture.

Allen: Grand. The Sonata would fit much better in my garden because of the size. What else do you have in here?

Renee: Here's another few that are interesting that people like. This is bishop's lace, a white flower. For people who love Queen Anne's lace this is a garden form that's similar. It grows about 2 1/3 to 3 feet and has graceful, humble flowers.

Allen: Do you find that bishop's lace holds up better than Queen Anne's as a cut flower?

Renee: Yes, it's bred in Holland and used as a cut, filler, flower in bouquets.

Allen: Gorgeous in the garden. Like you say it's graceful and blows in the wind. Now all of these are sown from seeds?

Renee: Yes, a lot of these cutting flowers, flowers that have grace and form, different colors, are easy to grow from seed.

Allen: Right. I tend to look at annual flowers in two categories. Those that I need to start ahead of time in containers and those I can grow in-ground. Looks like these are the latter type that can be grown in the ground.

Renee: There's really quite a few that you can direct sow. Many of these are examples of that.

Allen: I see you've got a nigella tucked down in here to carry on the white theme.

Renee: We planted white, they also come in blue and mulberry rose. Also called love-in-a-mist and devil's claw. Kind of interesting.

Renee: The seedpods are great as everlastings, so it's a flower you can enjoy when it flowers or pick as a seedpod.

Allen: Now this is a very old garden plant, popular in the 18th century.

Renee: And it self sows readily so if you enjoy it you can have it season after season.

Allen: Considered a hearty volunteer.

Renee: Has this feathery foliage, very lovely. I really like flowers you can grow in the garden and use indoors.

Allen: Do you find that the bishop's lace can grow in most parts of the country where Queen Anne's lace grows?

Renee: Yes, but it's a cool weather annual so plant it in the spring. Here where we have very mild winters I can plant it for a cool crop, but generally it sows itself or I sow it in early spring.

Allen: So you would plant it with cornflowers and larkspur.

Renee: Poppies, violas, pansies and such.

Allen: Of course there are so many flowers that you can plant beyond the traditional marigolds, petunias, salvias.

Renee: One thing I think is fun, if you like sunflowers, is to plant different colored ones, different size ones.

Allen: I've grown the little teddy bear ones.

Renee: They are great to grow with kids because they come up so fast. Or take a plant like cosmos, there are doubles, ones with black.

Allen: All can be grown from seed starting in the spring, into the summer and fall.

Renee: There are seed grown varieties of things grown in spring. Here's a poppy, these make huge stands with large petals. This is called Passionflower poppy. I buy the seed from France for that.

Allen: Exquisite color.

Renee: Rich coral salmon.

Allen: Now, the seedpods on these are equally showy.

Renee: Right, worth keeping for their shapes themselves.

Allen: In my garden these come up as hearty volunteers, so once you get them up they will seed freely.

Renee: I think that's one of the most fun parts of gardening. Having them year after year, sharing them with friends.

Allen: Tell me about this plant, salpiglossis.

Renee: I picked this to show you because the color is so intense. This is a variety we call 'Stained Glass' for obvious reasons.

Allen: Look at the colors.

Renee: Summer blooming, grow from seed, rich intense colors. Pretty vase flowers, in my mild winter climate it will self-sow.

Allen: Now these are called painted tong?

Renee: That's their old fashioned or common name. This is a variety that was bred in England and even though England is a cooler climate they were bred to take the heat. More uniform and heat tolerant than older varieties. That's the kind of thing I look for.

Allen: Looks like a cross between a petunia and a nasturtium.

Renee: I agree. It's unique and most people like to see it because of the size and colors difference.

Allen: How do you find these different types of annuals?

Renee: Many were common 25-30 years ago so there are lots of references and a lot of older gardeners know them, but especially for these flowers we look a lot in Europe. A lot of folks there still grow old-fashioned flowers. And, I hear from customers, I talk to small growers I look at a lot of things, breeders send us letters. It's a very pleasurable part of my job.

Allen: It makes flower growing a true adventure.

Renee: Right now we are looking at veining annual flowers like sweet peas and we found some in New Zealand that combine frilly petals with sweet intense rosy fragrance that smells like jasmine and orange blossoms together.

Allen: What a great old-fashioned flower.

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