Happy day-after-Valentine’s Day, everyone! The Hudson Valley looks and feels like Narnia right now, with snow, blowing snow, and wind-chill temperatures in the dangerous digits (-10°F to -20°F). Can you blame me for wanting to write about…flowers?
If you’d like to winter-sow a bevy of blooming plants in January and February, be sure to choose perennial and hardy annual types. Wait until late winter or early spring to plant tender annuals. And for heaven’s sake, be sure to read these four articles that unlock the mysteries of winter-sowing:
Here are 16 subjects that I achieved from past winter-sowing efforts:
Baptisia. I love the indigo blue flowers of this common perennial. I have it in two boxwood-edged beds that flank my Woodland Garden.
Foxglove. (Please forgive the ghastly photo — I snapped it on a windy day.) This Digitalis purpurea is neither perennial nor annual. It’s biennial! In other words, the plant produces foliage the first year, and blooms the next.
BUT KEVIN, ISN’T DIGITALIS POISONOUS?
Yes, the gorgeous foxglove is indeed poisonous. If you have young children in your care, and they tend to eat everything in sight, you should probably avoid the plant. But then you should also avoid garden soil, trees, fence posts, and brick walkways. These, too, can cause problems if ingested.
Hollyhock. Another biennial, and one that belongs in every cottage-type garden. The varieties are endless. The pink and white subject pictured above (sadly, I can’t recall its name) produced a gorgeous background in one of my perennial beds during the summer of 2012.
Buddleja. This perennial “Butterfly Bush” is a magnet for all kinds of beneficial insects. I have it near the entrance to my Serpentine Garden. It’s a cinch to winter-sow!
Primula japonica. One year, reader Beverly was kind enough to send me seeds of this aptly-nicknamed “candelabra primrose.” It’s a cherished plant in my Woodland Garden.
Forget Me Not. Like all re-seeding annuals, this Myosotis is an excellent subject for winter-sowing. I have masses of it at the entrance to my Woodland Garden. The plants produce a pale-blue sea in early spring.
Lavender. This perennial requires no coddling whatsoever. I winter-sowed the seeds of Lavandula ‘Munstead’ one year, and then planted the seedlings in the dry, crappy soil at the base of my Serpentine Garden. Flowers and foliage are scented to the nines. I use fresh blossoms to make fragrant shortbread cookies.
The shortbread cookies in question. Here’s my step-by-step recipe.
Nicotiana. What an unusual annual! The strongly-perfumed blossoms open in the evening, in order to attract nighttime pollinators. Just a few plants can scent a garden from dusk until dawn. Winter-sown seeds have never failed to germinate for me.
Bachelor Button. This old-fashioned, hardy annual is a magnet for honey bees. When deadheaded regularly, the plant will bloom from late-spring to frost. I’ve read that in Victorian times, an unmarried man could indicate that he was “available” by inserting a blossom of this Centaurea cyanus into a button hole of his suit. The tradition came to an abrupt halt after several bachelors were stung by honey bees at outdoor tea parties.
Coreopsis. This one produces sunshine-yellow, daisy-like flowers that are excellent for cutting. Coreopsis is a perennial that blooms and blooms until the first hard frost.
Snapdragon. This hardy annual, which is officially called Antirrhinum, comes in a rainbow of colors. I prefer tall varieties for cutting. When squeezed by curious fingers, the flowers resemble the face of a dragon that opens and closes its mouth. It’s a fail-proof plant for winter-sowing.
I hope this post was useful to you in some teeny-tiny way. In the comments field below, perhaps you can tell me about the flowers you’ve successfully winter-sown.
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