So far, sow good

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They’re rel­a­tively easy to grow and, as the ground warms up, you can plant them di­rectly into the soil or into pots so you won’t need a green­house or space in­doors to ger­mi­nate them.

You can plan your blooms as a riot of colour, to be lined up in rows for cut flow­ers, or use them as fillers be­tween other plants.

They are in­ex­pen­sive ( or free if you col­lect seed as it ripens in au­tumn) and it’s sat­is­fy­ing to watch them de­velop over their short life cy­cle.

The same tips ap­ply to soil prepa­ra­tion and sow­ing as for the veg – in sum­mary, you will need a weed- free, finely- raked crumbly soil.

All will flower bet­ter in an open sunny po­si­tion.

Sow as per the in­struc­tions on the packet and wa­ter in gen­tly.

Here are some sug­ges­tions to whet your appetite – I’ve in­cluded a mix of old favourites and some lesser­known va­ri­eties for the more ad­ven­tur­ous.

Rat­i­bida ‘ Red Mid­get’ is a very cheer­ful flower that de­serves wider ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

Also known as Mex­i­can hats or the Prairie cone flower, this jaunty bloom has yel­low and ma­roon petals and a dis­tinc­tive cone cen­tre. It flow­ers from June to Septem­ber, does well in a dry soil and makes a good cut flower.

You could just grow a bed of pop­pies and be happy. Won­der­ful cul­ti­vars in­clude ‘ Black Beauty’ which has dark, al­most black pe­ony- like blooms, and Vic­to­ria Cross which has fringed red petals and a white cross in the cen­tre.

Their seed pods look beau­ti­ful as well – a par­tic­u­larly dis­tinc­tive va­ri­ety is ‘ Hens and Chicks’ where the cen­tral pod is sur­rounded by baby pods.

Nigella dam­a­s­cena, Love- in- a- Mist, is an old cot­tage gar­den favourite that never fails to de­light. It’s the com­bi­na­tion of the ferny fo­liage and pretty blue flow­ers – ‘ Miss Jekyll’ be­ing one of the best known strains. This will hap­pily self- seed, so get the cy­cle go­ing this year.

Bells of Ire­land, Moluc­cella lae­vis, is a firm favourite with flower ar­rangers for its bell- shaped green flow­ers, which can be suc­cess­fully cut and dried. Its fresh green bells are a good com­pan­ion to more brightly coloured an­nu­als and will look very cool be­side white flow­ers.

Clarkia, or gode­tia, is an easy- togrow an­nual with silky petals in pinks, laven­ders and pale pur­ples. This Cal­i­for­nian na­tive will bring colour and joy to your gar­den and pro­duce pretty flo­ral posies that will look great in a vase.

Ni­can­dra, the Shoo fly plant, has bell- shaped laven­der flow­ers, fol­lowed by black seed pods which look a bit like Chi­nese lanterns. One seed will form a bushy plant so it’s a handy space filler.

Cen­tau­rea or corn­flow­ers evoke mead­ows and hazy sum­mer days. How­ever, this beau­ti­ful na­tive is in de­cline in the coun­try­side so to be sure of see­ing it this sum­mer, sow it in your gar­den.

The won­der­ful pierc­ing blue flow­ers are ex­cel­lent for cut­ting, too.

Fi­nally, I al­ways rec­om­mend nas­tur­tiums for ab­so­lute begin­ners – the big seeds are com­fort­able to han­dle and ger­mi­nate quickly.

Their dis­tinc­tive fo­liage is easy to recog­nise as it emerges, and the re­ward is tonnes of flow­ers in or­ange, yel­low and red. The flow­ers also make un­usual, zesty and colour­ful ad­di­tions to a tasty salad.

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