Sometimes you are taken by surprise. Last spring I was sent a gift by the daughter of an old friend. Long ago she had been inspired by our garden and now she is working as a gardener in Devon. And, delightfully, she had collected some seeds and sent them to me.
They were a mixture of some commercial seed packets and some seeds she had gathered herself. There were a few things I might never have thought of growing and some I have tried in the past and failed to germinate. I sowed the lot and had some interesting results. ‘Datura’ was the poisonous Thorn-apple, which I scrapped lest it escape into our surrounding fields. The ‘Deptford Pink’ is a pretty, rare British native and it is now growing in our garden (Dianthus armeria)
Call me a snob, but I had a longstanding prejudice against Ageratum – I thought it was too fluffy, too mauve, too girly – the sort of plant that the late Barbara Cartland would have liked. But it turned out to be one of the stars of my group of plants-in-pots last year – just the right colour to set off the predominantly sunset-coloured display – and it lasts well in a vase.
When the seeds arrived they were in plastic bags. I had always read that it’s best to put seeds in paper envelopes and keep them in a box in the fridge. I thought that many of these would not be viable, but germination was excellent. In the past I have failed to grow any plants of Lysimachia ‘Beaujolais’, even when sown really fresh, but the seeds from Devon came up with enthusiasm. Maybe they like being stored that way – maybe the ‘received wisdom’ is wrong?
So I have learned some useful lessons, thanks to my good friends. And I will grow Ageratum again this year. It will soon be time to start sowing.