Darsham Nurseries Cafe, potager, kitchen garden, vegetables from seed, harvesting vegetables,
The Daily Dibber

Kitchen gardener for the Darsham Nurseries Cafe. Seedaholic. Grower and lover of food and flowers.

Fresh Flowers

We obsessive gardeners are a strange breed.

The festive season has mainly finished and my principle emotion is relief. Dressing up for me brings unfamiliar stresses after months of work trousers and wellies. The preferred shade for my nails is black gold.

It’s a hard adjustment back in the non-plant world after months of polytunnel life, seedlings and harvesting. We gardeners are easy to spot socially, often ill at ease out of our chosen settings, like a farmer pulling at his new shirt collar whilst attending church or a middle aged hedge fund manager spending a day on the beach with his kids and the inevitable phone and au pair. We think we have managed to blend in, but rarely get it quite right. I can’t bear an hour under artificial lights pawing through clothes hangers with sale tags but give me a morning with seed catalogues and I won’t look up for hours.

This winter has been the strangest in my memory. It’s the end of December and I can see tender annuals still alive in my garden. While Northern England flooded on Christmas Eve, I drove past a lawn being cut. I wonder what on earth this means for our coming spring. These prolonged warm temperatures are confusing enough to the human world . We have the Internet and up to date scientific knowledge available to us at the click of a button. The animal and plant world seems confused. Hedgehogs have delayed hibernation, spiders are larger than ever as their food supplies are not depleting. The aphid population may soar in 2016. Supermarkets are displaying record sized brussel sprouts. The price of some soft fruit will be increased as they haven’t had the cold period they need to form fruit.

The period of sowing inactivity during December and January has always been difficult. I have become utterly addicted to my dibber and am bereft without it. Personally that little piece of wood attached to metal signifies so much. It’s a creative process, working with the seeds to conceive new plants and then easing them into into maturity. This year I have lucky to be part of the creation of food from seed, and see the resulting crops harvested, appear on menus and be appreciated. Heavenly.

By day four after been stuck indoors with three teenagers the dishwasher seems weary and I am starting to feel like a middle-aged caged Cinderella without a clock. They are oblivious to their role as the ugly step-sisters. To regain some sanity I have spent many enjoyable hours trying to ignore the short days flipping through the new seed catalogues.

While I save most of my own seed for sowing the following spring, I also eagerly anticipate new varieties. There is a skill to weeding out the actual new varieties. Seeds marked ‘New’ can just be an indication of a new addition to that particular seed company, rather than a new variety. Bone fide new seeds are rare. After a few days of analysing the catalogues I am really rather disappointed, and to be honest, ever so slightly cross. A common theme has emerged with the larger English seed companies, it seems to me that in order to compensate for this they have created an array of new mixes of old varieties. The independent smaller seed companies however have a interesting selection of rare and new varieties.

This selection of English seeds has expanded naturally into a compilation of new varieties and flower seeds that are fresh to me.

Thompson & Morgan

Zinderella’s are the first scabiosa flower typed zinnia’s. They look quite sweet and grow to two foot.

Zinderella 'Lilac'

Zinderella ‘Lilac’

Zinderella 'Peach'

Zinderella ‘Peach’

Two new Cosmos varieties this year, ‘Xanthos’ which grows to two foot and ‘Capriola’ a two-toner that should with care reach four foot.

"Xanthos'

“Xanthos’

'Capriola'

‘Capriola’

Nicky’s Nursery
A first year flowering red dwarf Delphinium, this is interesting.

Delphinium 'Redcap'

Delphinium ‘Redcap’

This little Nemesia is so unusual I will forgive it’s yellow mask-like centre. This grows to one foot and would be a real talking point en-masse in containers.

Nemesia 'Masquerade'

Nemesia ‘Masquerade’

Plants of Distinction

I am not usually drawn to white flowers, but this Cosmos has a vintage tea party look.

Cosmos 'Cupcake White'

Cosmos ‘Cupcake White’

This Mick Jagger of snap dragons, I feel would be more appreciated in a vase rather than a border, so I will try and squeeze it into my already packed cut flower bed.

Antirrhinum 'Lucky Lips'

Antirrhinum ‘Lucky Lips’

A new shade of pink for this classic Aster.

Aster Tower 'Purple pink'

Aster Tower ‘Purple pink’

Jungle Seeds

The only English stockist of this unusual Dianthus that to me resembles Hawaiian grass skirts.

Dianthus 'Dancing Geisha'

Dianthus ‘Dancing Geisha’

Sutton’s Seeds

This sunflower has a distinct Dahlia like appearance, and grows to 4 ft. I would use this as a dramatic cut flower.

Helianthus 'Starburst Lemon Eclair'

Helianthus ‘Starburst Lemon Eclair’

Chilterns Seeds

This is interesting, like a yellow allium.

'Craspedia globosa'

‘Craspedia globosa’

A new Icelandic poppy, I can envisage a line of these in the bespoke cafe vase.

Papaver nudicaule 'Red Sails'

Papaver nudicaule ‘Red Sails’

Holding it’s mauve buds intact until the evening, then opening them to reveal white heavily scented simple flowers, this has my interest.

Zaluzianskya capensis 'Midnight Candy'

Zaluzianskya capensis
‘Midnight Candy’

The only English supplier of this very large flowered sumptuous 3ft Zinnia.

Zinnia 'Super Yoga, Dark Red'

Zinnia ‘Super Yoga, Dark Red’

This new Nemesia has wonderfully contrasting colours.

Nemesia "Triumph National Ensign'

Nemesia “Triumph National Ensign’

Again Chilterns Seeds should be proud, this is the only supplier in the UK of this rare tobacco plant species.

Nictotiana glutinosa

Nictotiana glutinosa

This seems made with the florist in mind.

'Bupleurum Longifolium'

‘Bupleurum Longifolium’

Originating from North America, this Geum’s seed heads are wild looking and feathery pink.

' Geum triflorum'

‘ Geum triflorum’

Special Plants Seeds

Blow, brassy and growing to 3 ft, this is also helpfully drought tolerant.

Helichrysum bracteatum King 'Fireball'

Helichrysum bracteatum King ‘Fireball’

This gentle giant of an Ageratum can grow up to 4 foot. Tender, with deep purple velvety leaves, the move inside during winter is already worth it. A must grow.

'Ageratum corymbosum'

‘Ageratum corymbosum’

Although at first glance this resembles a cornflower, this is actually part of the Aster family.

'Catananche caerulea'

‘Catananche caerulea’

Reputably the best of the dark leaved Dianthus.

Dianthus barbatus 'Monksilver Black'

Dianthus barbatus ‘Monksilver Black’

I loved the introduction this year of ‘Daucus Carota’ into the potager this year, this has a similar appearance but with deeper pink umbels.

Pimpinella major 'Rosea'

Pimpinella major ‘Rosea’

All the way from Chinese woodlands this will self seed given the right moist semi-shaded spot.

'Semiaquilegia escalcarata'

‘Semiaquilegia escalcarata’

Plant World Seeds

The only stockist of this new Cerinthe with warmer reddish tones.

Cerinthe Major 'Rhubarb & Custard'

Cerinthe Major ‘Rhubarb & Custard’

Echiums are tricky to grow here in East Anglia but Plant World Seeds have created this new variety, that can withstand a light frost. With its raspberry spike reaching 3 ft, this is surely worth a try.

Echium 'Red Rocket'

Echium ‘Red Rocket’

From Crete this giant Daucus Carota can reach 2 metres.

Daucus Carota 'Maxima'

Daucus Carota ‘Maxima’

A really pretty dwarf alpine from Oregon.

Erigeron 'Poliospermum'

Erigeron ‘Poliospermum’

Chilean, hardy, a climbing Gazania?? Got to be worth a try.

'Mutisia Ilicifolia'

‘Mutisia Ilicifolia’

Already feeling better.

limegarden@sky.com • 2nd January 2016


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