How are your sunflowers doing?


I was too late planting my sunflowers this year, but next year I plan to be on time. I’ve written it in my diary. And I really want to plant something like this. Unfortunately, these images were taken overseas. We used to be able to get colours like this here, but I’m not sure they’re readily available any more.

The sunflower at the top is something like ‘Ms Mars’ or ‘Strawberry Blonde’ though the one shown here looks a little more purple.

The echinaceas in the bottom image look stunning too – though I don’t know what this variety is either.

I have purple flower envy right now.

Pretty pink poodle


Here’s another picture of the fanciful new echinacea, ‘Pink Poodle’. Note the frilly petals; this shot was taken before most of the heads had transformed themselves into raggedy poodles. In the initial stages the flowers often look more like the traditional echinacea, but as they age they gradually develop a fuller, fluffier form, adding more rows of petals from the central flower head, like a floral Mohawk. There’s still time to ENTER THE DRAW TO WIN ONE (plus the new varieties ‘Coral Reef’ and ‘Tangerine Dream’). To enter the draw, check out the fifth post below, or click right here to go directly to it.

Sneak peak: Stunning new echinacea

Echinacea Coral Reef
Take a look at this brilliant new echinacea, called ‘Coral Reef’, due out in the shops in February. Its long-lasting double anemone-like flowers are produced atop 75cm high stalks, making it an excellent cut flower. Echinaceas are perennials, but they usually die down in winter in cooler regions. They aren’t too fussed about fertility or water, although while they’re getting established it’s a good idea to provide both. Look out for ‘Coral Reef’ in garden centres nationwide.

Echinacea, Cosmos, China asters

I sowed cosmos on October 5th and they germinated just 5 days later. And five days after that, they’re ready for pricking out into small pots. Cosmos are a great investment for the summer garden because the flowers just keep on keeping on. See more on cosmos below.

Echinacea purpureaEchinacea
Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) are getting more colourful every year. The most widely grown are the vibrant pink varieties (shown here), but there are also white, peach, tomato red, even yellow hybrids. Plant them in full sun in free-draining soil. They’re reasonably drought tolerant, but they’ll perform better will a little mollycoddling. Young plants, especially, need regular watering until established. Sow seeds in trays now for a late summer show. Or wait until summer and buy full-grown plants.

You’ll never be without cut flowers if you sow cosmos. They flower profusely from spring to autumn, and in as little as two months after sowing. They come in soft pinks, vibrant pinks, white, yellow and orange, with single, double or fluted petals. Egmont Seeds and Kings Seeds both have a great range to choose from.

China asterChina asters
China asters (Callistephus chinensis) are hardy annuals grown extensively as cut flowers. They’re classic autumn flowers, and they come in vibrant, racy colours. If you prefer a paler palette, try the gorgeous new variety ‘King Size Apricot’ (click here to see) from Kings Seeds. China asters are super easy to grow from seed, or you can buy seedlings from your local garden centre. Plant them in full sun and keep the soil moderately moist. They won’t rebloom once picked (or deadheaded) so try successive sowing (sowing seeds once every two or three weeks) to get a steady supply of blooms for the vase.