It often feels strange to be collecting seed heads so early into summer; an activity more commonly associated with autumn. However, it’s the early setting biennials that very often have the showiest form once in seed, especially in the long border.
There is, therefore, a good argument for leaving them in place; providing a new element of form and, it could also be suggested, colour to the planting. On a recent trip to Sissinghurst gardens in Sussex, I was struck by the wash of silvery-grey resulting from large, spent Christophii Alliums running through the borders. The same also at Great Dixter (one element of planting design they do appear to agree on).
I have decided to collect my seedheads instead this year for the duel purpose of propagation and (very) early Christmas-season preparation. For the opium poppies now is the time for selecting and storing seed; before they spread themselves far beyond reasonable management and control. And for the alliums, the current dry run has rendered them stiff and easily pulled; so best to seize them before the rains come. As they inevitably will.
Pleased to see the familiar Six-Spot Burnet Moth back in the lower meadow again this year, especially after such a stark Summer for both the moths and butterflies last year. In fact there are positive signs fluttering all over the garden now, thanks to the absurdly relentless sunshine of the last few weeks. Hopefully numbers will increase as more species are energised in the warm and able to find food; sustaining them through to egg-laying stage on host-plants found in the meadow.
One of my favourite wild and cultivated-for-the-picking-garden cross over flowers is undoubtably Ammi majus. A close descendant of the common wild carrot; an envelope full of seed was first given to me by Fergus Garrett, head gardener to the late planting guru Christopher Lloyd at Great Dixter Gardens.
There it is grown in great swathes, mixed often with one or two other annuals in contrasting colours. For such a showy annual in the picking beds here at the the Old Vicarage it is actually rarely used in the house. I prefer it’s use as a decorative element to the beds, than as a cut flower for the vase. This year I’ve mixed it with borage and opium poppy, mostly due to my growing obsession with combining white and blue.