Seed update

Out of the big batch of donated seeds, 15 species were sown in mid September and most have proved to be more successful than I initially imagined. Much effort went into selecting the part of my greenhouse that receives the most sunlight throughout the day and the results suggest that this extra attention to detail has been worth it. The unusually sunny and warm end to September has also proved helpful. Care has been taken to keep the soil moist, but not soaking, at all times.

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Top row: purple toadflax romping away; middle row: some more escaped toadflax?; bottom row: musk mallow.

Below are the germination stats, from which it can be seen that so far there is a 80% emergence rate by species. However, this is offset by the hugely variable numbers of individual seedlings. This is to be expected; plants such as Achillea filipendulina and Linaria purpurea are highly vigorous, whereas it is no surprise that the Eremurus, which is slow to emerge and needs a temperature of 15°C, has thus far failed to appear. This count up has taken place after just over 5 weeks growth and it is still possible that more seedlings may emerge, although, as the days get shorter and cooler, it is unlikely they will be rushing to germinate.

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Achillea filipendulina growing vigorously and some Aquilegia vulgaris just beginning to show.

Where no germination was taken place, the plan is to put the pots inside plastic bags to create a warmer microclimate and give them a better chance. Otherwise it is possible that some of the no-shows may appear next spring, as some seeds require a prolonged period of cold weather before they will germinate. Regardless, half the seed has been saved and another attempt will be made in early spring.

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Germinating seeds in supermarket mushroom boxes; the free alternative to plastic germination trays.

Achillea filipendulina ‘Cloth of Gold’ – 34

Aquilegia vulgaris, columbine – 9

Centaurea scabiosa, greater knapweed – 1

Echinacea purpurea, purple coneflower – 5

Echium vulgare, viper’s bugloss – 1

Eremurus spp., foxtail lily – 0

Hypericum perforatum, St. John’s wort – 29

Knautia arvensis, field scabious – 3

Linaria purpurea, purple toadflax – 71

Malva moschata, musk mallow – 7

Prunella vulgaris, self-heal – 9

Sanguisorba officinalis, greater burnet – 0

Salvia sclarea, clary sage – 0

Scabiosa columbaria subsp. ochroleuca, pale yellow scabious – 1

Silene maritima, sea campion – 4

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