Carol grows star plants from seed

Sow­ing your own peren­ni­als from seed gives you a huge va­ri­ety of long-last­ing plants for just pen­nies, says Carol Klein

Gardeners' World - - Contents -

You’ ve prob­a­bly no­ticed, I love plants, and peren­ni­als above all oth­ers. It’s be­cause of their enor­mous di­ver­sity and the way in which they change through­out the sea­sons, from their ap­pear­ance in the early months of the year through to their even­tual demise in late au­tumn or early win­ter. Demise, though, is the wrong word. Hi­ber­na­tion is more like it. Most of the peren­ni­als we grow are herba­ceous, mean­ing they die down dur­ing the win­ter and come up again next spring. It’s a win­ning pol­icy evolved to cope with our tem­per­ate cli­mate and cold win­ters. Many peren­ni­als are long lived and many get big­ger and bet­ter each year. There are helle­bores in my gar­den that are more than 30 years old, as­tran­tias we’ve known for a quar­ter of a cen­tury and hostas that can only be de­scribed as ven­er­a­ble. Each plant de­vel­ops its own char­ac­ter and be­comes an in­di­vid­ual. Grow­ing plants from seed is a grad­ual process and one that re­quires pa­tience, though none of it is es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult. In their first year there are few species that will make sub­stan­tial plants and, like any young­ster, they will need care and nur­ture un­til they can stand on their own two feet – or grow strongly on their own roots. From in­fancy to ado­les­cence, peren­nial plants should be kept in pots but never ne­glected – con­stant pot­ting on is vi­tal to en­sure they’re never pot bound. While plants are young, and the weather is cold, they will need pro­tec­tion to pre­vent their roots freez­ing. A cold frame will do or you can re­use a poly­styrene or waxed card­board box (such as those su­per­mar­kets use for fruit) with ex­tra in­su­la­tion, all topped off with a clear plas­tic lid, placed next to a wall or in a shel­tered spot. Most peren­ni­als don’t need ex­tra heat; these are hardy plants and ex­cess heat will per­suade them to start grow­ing be­fore the day­light hours are long enough, re­sult­ing in spindly growth. Most peren­ni­als grow from seed, as it’s the way these plants per­pet­u­ate them­selves. And when we sow for our gar­den, we’re fol low­ing an an­cient tradition. From the first time hu­mankind re­alised that we could em­u­late na­ture and grow our own plants from seed, around 10,000BC, it’s b e en a n impo r t an t ac­tiv­ity. It would have had huge im­por­tance for sur­vival – as it still does in Africa and Asia where plants are the main source of food. In Western Europe and the USA, a greater pro­por­tion of our diet is an­i­mal based, but most of that live­stock is fed on plants. For us, grow­ing from seed is a plea­sur­able ac­tiv­ity and though many of us still grow food crops, it’s no longer a mat­ter of life or

Many peren­ni­als are long lived and many get big­ger and bet­ter each year

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.