I spent the day potting on various plants raised from seed, that were gently grinding to a halt in their trays or existing small pots. A dark red Gaillardia, Gaura, some white poppies, a few sad foxgloves, two varieties of wallflowers, sweet williams, and another species of long stemmed Dianthus for the gravel since the Dianthus carthusianorum worked so well. I'm pleased I finally remembered to sow some wallflowers at the right time, which is summer. There are so many other things to do in June that it's easy to forget about seeds, but early summer is the time to sow biennials.
I am very fond of wallflowers. I like the scent, the dusky colours, and the whole old-fashioned vibe. A couple of years ago I bought some bare root wallflowers by mail order, but they failed to make very satisfactory plants, remaining rather spindly. It was as if they had never got over the indignity of being posted. I don't understand why, when almost every other bedding plant under the sun is sold in a container, the tradition of bare root wallflowers persists. I read somewhere that wallflowers were not suitable for selling in pots as young plants because their rootballs didn't hold together, but the ones I potted on this afternoon had perfectly normal looking roots. They held together in the shape of their divided tray without seeming congested, and I have every hope they will do the same in small pots until the autumn when I can plant them in some of the containers currently in use for summer bedding. Seed company Thompson and Morgan advise on their website that biennials are usually sown in a nursery bed where they can grow undisturbed until ready for transplanting, and I wonder why? How many gardens nowadays have a nursery bed? If my young potted wallflower plants suddenly keel over, or gradually dwindle to nothing before the autumn, then I'll know that maybe I should have found a nursery bed for them, but as it is I fail to see why they can't be grown in little pots, like the young cabbage plants garden sold in garden centres and DIY stores to home vegetable growers.
Members of the cabbage family, including wallflowers, can suffer from club root, so one advantage of growing your own from seed instead of buying bare root plants is knowing that you are definitely not introducing club root to the garden. You would hope that no reputable mail order company would allow such a thing to happen, but you never know. And seed raised plants are cheaper, when a packet of seed costs a couple of pounds if it doesn't come free with a gardening magazine, while bare root mail order plants are forty or fifty pence each, and demand to be planted as soon as they arrive.
The Arctotis that got held up in the post and had gone yellow and mouldy by the time they arrived have finally filled their plastic nine centimetre pots with enough roots for me to be willing to move them on into five inch terracotta pots and stand them outside. Hayloft did refund me for one pack, which seemed about fair since all the plants survived in the end and I probably shouldn't expect to get two packs entirely for free. Let's hope that after all the trouble with them they survive the winter in the greenhouse, so that I get a full season out of them next year. In principle they should, indeed in theory I can multiply them by taking cuttings.
As I went to buy more potting compost and some larger pots for the Tithonia, I stopped at the Chatto gardens to buy a dark leaved, tiny flowered form of verbena, Verbena officinalis var. grandiflora 'Bampton'. It is fairly new introduction, though I have been eyeing them up covetously for a year or two and am going to try one in a pot with the other purple and dark red flowers. The Chatto gardens describe it as a particularly fine form, in contrast to other inferior versions which have been grown from seed, leaving me thinking that I ought to be able to take some sort of cuttings from that as well. I can feel a Google search for 'Verbena officinalis propagation' coming on.