The lovely month of June
Gardens are abundant and full of promise of long, hot days to come
One of the very best things about sowing seed of these flowering biennials and perennials now is that there’s no need to mollycoddle the young seedlings in ways necessary at colder times of the year. Instead, many of the plants that I’ve mentioned (wallflowers, columbines, honesty, foxgloves, lupins, sweet William, Dame’s rocket) can be sown now, outdoors and into a well-prepared seed-bed, to be transplanted into the garden this autumn. With the rest, sow seed into trays filled with moist seed compost, growing individual plants on in pots until there’s space to move them into their permanent positions. With a few, (as mentioned above) you can even broadcast the seed into borders or onto pebble pathways; not as reliable a method of propagation, but one that introduces a welcome element of chance and the possibility of some exciting and surprising plant combinations.
But first, a few words of advice … If sowing directly outside into a seedbed, it’s crucial to properly prepare the ground. So dig out any weeds, rake out any stones or other debris, and then make a raised bed, roughly 20 centimetres high. Allow the first flush of weed seedlings to appear, and then hoe on a dry, warm day before raking again. Sow seed sparsely in clearly labelled rows, allowing enough space between the rows for comfortable hoeing. Don’t let the soil dry out. If sowing into pots or trays, cover the compost with grit and then cover with a clear lid or cling-film to preserve moisture (with cling-film, leave enough space for the seedlings to emerge), removing the lid/ cling-film as soon as you spot the first signs of germination. Whether in the ground or in containers, keep seedlings well-watered and take precautions against slugs and snails. Be ruthless, also, when it comes to thinning out overcrowded seedlings; otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of weak, spindly plants that won’t perform as they should.
The results of your labours will be next year’s flower-filled summer garden. That’s something definitely worth a pat or two on the back.