My apologies for not posting last week, I am afraid drawing up planting plans and adding them as products to the site has taken a lot longer than I thought (this will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me). As I mentioned in my last Quickcrop mail, we are now offering flowering plant packs that include all the plants required to create an attractive planting scheme and a simple plan to assist getting it all in the ground.
I will get back to the vegetable garden again next week as we look at putting it to bed for the winter but, partly due to a beautiful sunny weekend, I still have flowers on the brain for this week.
Before we get into planting plans I thought I'd share a couple of photos I took on Sunday where a cold and misty start to the day lent a beautiful soft light to the garden. I took the pic above at around 7.30am of one of my teepees of sweet peas (there's a poem in there somewhere) that just keeps on flowering, the varieties are 'Prince Edward of York' (pink) and 'Matucana' (purple) which have been fantastic.
I didn't quite get frost on the ground but it looks like it was just a whisker away with the clear skies overnight. This photo shows dew drops on closed California poppies as the sun begins to warm my little wildflower meadow. Like tulips and crocuses, poppies exhibit 'nyctinasty' meaning they close up at night. There are a number of theories as to why they do this including preventing themselves from freezing, conserving scent, or keeping pollen dry but either way it is an interesting phenomenon.
Here are the same poppies, now open, taken later in the (glorious) day with the whole meadow in bloom. Incidentally, I think I mentioned last time that I sowed this meadow very late (some other project took longer than I expected) so it will be interesting to see if there is enough of the season left for the annual flowers to go to seed and make an appearance again next year.
Whether the annuals set seed or not I am delighted about this late flowering patch of garden as it was jammed with bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects all getting a good feed before the winter kicks in. One of the reasons for sowing this meadow is it's on the flight path to my bee hives (I got stung plenty of times when preparing the ground, frustrating as I couldn't explain what I was doing) so it is especially gratifying to see them getting the benefit from it.
Planting plans OK, back to planting plans. These initial plans are the first of many and contain a selection of plants that can go in now and that we have in stock at this time of year. As I said last time it is a good idea to get perennials in the ground now as they have a chance to establish and will be ahead of any planted in springtime. Again, I mentioned this last time but it's also handy to get them in now if you are mixing them with spring flowering bulbs as it makes the whole lot easier to plant.
I have compiled a choice of 8 schemes which I'm hoping can be easily planted using the attached plans. I have chosen a 1.8 x 1.2 size (6 x 4ft) and a 3.6 x 1.2 (12 x 4ft) as a starting point for a compact and a large size bed, I have the 6 x 4 size on the site with the larger plans to follow next week. For larger areas, plans can be replicated or a mix of plans combined; the look of the themes are loose and natural so they will easily blend together.
Planting distances In general I have used close planting distances so the schemes establish quickly and you (hopefully!) get an impressive show in the first year. If you are happy to play the long game you could expand the planting area by about 25% for the same plan, it will just look a little less stocked in year 1 but will fill out the following year.
Pot size All plants (apart from bulbs) are supplied in 9cm pots because we can fit more in a delivery and it makes the plan packs more affordable. Perennials, by their nature, fill out quickly and will put down a lot of growth in a single season; you will be surprised how fast a relatively empty looking bed will fill up. Large plants in 20cm pots look great in the nursery but you will find smaller plants soon catch up when planted out and will generally establish more quickly.
Planting Plans As you can see above, each plan includes a photo layout so you can see what each plant looks like and how the colours blend together. The second image gives the plant names, the height and the flowering months. It is difficult to see on the small image above but you will be able to open a printable and enlargeable file on the product page itself.
I have also included a grid (in this case 3.6m x 1.2m) to give the approximate position of each plant. The grid is divided into 30cm (1ft) squares and does not need to be followed exactly but should be helpful when planting out.
Soil and Site The initial 8 plans are intended for full sun on a moderately fertile soil. Unlike vegetables, perennials don't need high fertility to grow well; in fact, overly fertile ground will lead to plenty of green growth but not so many flowers. Depending on the aspect and soil type in your garden, some plants may do better than others but in general all the choices are easy to grow plants.
I will have more plans to follow in the coming weeks for shady, dry or other problem areas which I know a number of you are looking for. I have had a number of mails on this already and will be including a questionnaire next week make sure I am on the right track.
Plant Packs I have included links below to current the 6x4 ft plant packs which I hope you will find of interest. If there is a specific size or type of bed you are looking for please mail me and I will try to solve the problem for you.
That's about it for now, I'll see you next week!