Seed catalogues are arriving and they provide the impetus for every kind of wish fulfillment. For instance, the dreamy heads of ‘Lilac Candy Floss’ poppy (Papaver somniferum ‘Lilac Candy Floss’) are densely packed with lilac-mauve petals arranged to look like peonies, and are followed by intriguing seedheads. If you enjoy fancy pelargoniums (also referred to as geraniums), you’d better order seed right away, because they require 14 to 16 weeks to reach blooming size. It might seem like a long commitment, but pelargoniums are fun to watch as they branch out, and the special effects bred into new plants can be spectacular (and new cultivars are not always available at local garden centres).
Veseys (veseys.com) and Stokes (stokeseeds.com) catalogues have the Bullseye series, with deep chocolate leaves bordered in bright kelly green. The chocolate tone is clear, not muddy, and the brilliant green border really lights it up. To my eye, the salmon flower selection is gorgeous with those dark leaves. Don’t expect to see the true depth of foliage colour on seedlings until the plants are outside in ultraviolet sunlight.
The recent breeding of food plants with ornamental characteristics is a double win for gardening in containers — they’re pretty, and you can eat them. You might have experimented with ‘Thai Magic’ basil and ‘Ruby Red’ Swiss chard, grown in pots among summer annual flowers. This year a son’s trip to Mexico has inspired me to try ornamental peppers (Capsicum annuum) in terracotta pots. Johnny’s Selected Seeds (johnnyseeds.com) has several container and bedding peppers for edible landscaping, and I’m planning to try ‘Sangria’, bushy plants about 12 inches (30 cm) tall, with mixed purple and red pointy fruits all summer. Although many of the small ornamental peppers have an intensely hot flavour, ‘Sangria’ is sweet. (These make good canapes, split and stuffed with herbed cream cheese.) The combination of younger mauve and purple fruits alongside maturing red peppers would be gorgeous with a cascading chartreuse potato vine spilling down the side.
You can see where my thoughts are going, and I’ve only just begun!
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