I was prompted to write this post because these are the first sweet peas I have ever grown on the ‘cordon’ method where you pinch out all side shoots and developing flowers along with cutting off all the tendrils so that all the energy goes into producing one strong stem which is then tied in every day. When it has reached the top of an 8 foot cane you lower it all down carefully, lay it along the ground and grow it up another cane 4 feet further away. Very labour intensive but, I was promised by those who know about these things, well worth it for the larger flowers, thicker and longer stems and the only way to grow for exhibition. And here we are, they were right! This is a mixture of Spencer varieties which I plan to enter in a local show on 19 July.036

The plants are now half way up the next cane so the intention is to keep cutting the new flowers and select the best on the day. So far, so good but I probably won’t be doing it again. It was a nice experiment but it is far too time consuming for the rewards unless you are a serious grower or exhibitor. 007

I have longed to grow Regal Lilies and the first flower opened today. What a stunner! A glorious combination of size, colour and scent and so easy to grow.011

After nearly five years of TLC, my little Tuscan jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, which I grew from a cutting, has repaid me with it’s first flowers and the promise of many more to come. To me, this is what gardening is all about, nature, nurture and reward.014

The Geranium palmatum grown from seed last year and easily overwintered in the greenhouse has flowered wonderfully on long trailing, slightly sticky stems covered with two-tone pink/purple five petalled flowers which are loved by bees.025

Bidens ferulifolia ‘Golden Goddess’  with Orlaya grandiflora, two firsts from seed this year and destined to become an annual event. The Orlaya in particular is great value and works well with strong colours. I have dotted it around the borders where it lights everything up.cropped-025.jpg

The intricacy of the lacy flower with outer petals larger on the outside edge and smaller on the inside plus the exquisite tiny florets in the centre makes it a real work of art.027

I struggle with hanging baskets. I don’t care for the big blousy baskets of trailing petunias or begonias and have tried just about everything else including pelargoniums and fuchsias. This year I have grown dwarf sweet peas for the first time and quite like them. Six plants in a 12″ basket was too many though; the watering and feeding is a daily chore, twice daily if the sun shines.028

The first time the Agapanthus has had 10 flowers. Always a talking point and takes pride of place by the front door. 020

The first flower on Leucanthemum ‘Freak!’ There are many others I prefer and I hate the name. It sounds rather non-pc. The varieties ‘Phyllis Smith’ and ‘Droitwich Beauty’ are similar but altogether better in my opinion. 034

This was totally unknown to me when I bought it at a plant stall for £1. There was no label but an internet search revealed it was Lotus hirsutus or Hairy Canary Clover! It is one of those nondescript plants that is probably best left on the plant stall! It is just sitting in a pot without a proper home because it doesn’t really fit anywhere other than a Mediterranean dry garden which I don’t have. Perhaps it will find a new home somewhere else!040

However, the Japanese Wineberry acquired from Barnsley House at their open garden event last month is destined for a long and happy life in the fruit garden. It obviously likes it here as it is growing away madly in a big pot and already forming fruits which I will duly eat! I only bought one because, like many berries, it is said to be easy to propagate by tip layering. Soon I will have a veritable forest of wineberries!006

And finally. Senecio polyodon, a pretty member of a genus with over 1000 species ranging from our own common weed groundsel to the grey leaved monstrosity with horrid little yellow daisies often seen in municipal planting and supermarket car parks. I decided to give it  try from seed which clearly paid off as it is now evident all over the garden from plants I grew last year and flowering for the first time this year.

2 thoughts on “Firsts

  1. I haven’t grown cordon sweet peas before, do you mean that you achieve 2 cordons from 1 plant? Your firsts are all very lovely too. 🙂

  2. Hi Julie. No, you just nip out all the side shoots and just tie in one leader which grows skywards. They keep producing new side shoots and these must all be nipped out as well as cutting off all the tendrils which might wrap around the flower stalks or grab hold of the wrong cane. It is also necessary to nip out all the developing flowers until the end of May so that all the energy goes into upright growth and a strong stem. The rewards are huge flowers on long thick straight stems.

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