Leaves one year, then flowers
ONE of the easiest types of seed to sow are biennials. These are plants that produce leaves the year they are sown and then flower the next, before setting seed and dying back.
Many biennials are prolific selfseeders, so if you already grow them it is worth collecting the seeds and sowing where you want the plant to grow, rather than waiting for seedlings to spring up all around the garden.
The best way to cultivate them is to sow them in a nursery bed if you have space, then move the seedlings in autumn so they can bed into their final flowering positions before they go dormant in winter.
Alternatively, sow thinly where you want them to grow, or start the seedlings in the ground before potting them up for winter. They can then be planted out in spring when borders have more free space.
Biennials include honesty (Lunaria annua), sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis) and foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), as well as a few short-lived perennials such as Iceland poppies and Eryngium giganteum, a sea holly.
Wallflowers and sweet Williams are also biennials and are often bought as bare-root ready-to-plant bunches in autumn.
Foxgloves are popular biennials
Potting up seedlings for winter