It’s about that time of year when people who love their gardens and the process of growing start getting a bit antsy about the weather. Not being able to get outside due to inclement weather is one of the things that drives me nuts at this time of year although being a pro now I do go out in far more inclement weather than I would if I didn’t have to. At heart I am a fair weather gardener to which my neighbours will happily attest!

Nevertheless even at this time of the year when it’s snowing or freezing temps or yet more rain (we’re Brits, I know we should be used to this by now…) the plethora of juicy seed catalogues start plopping onto the door mat as if too entice us towards the sultry months ahead (ok sultry in my dreams, more likely to be damp and cool followed by more damp and more cool, if we’re lucky there will be a spate of simply scorching days to which we will hark for years to come).

I usually start planning the veg plot in October November time, partly as I feel I’ll miss it somehow unless I plan well in advance and then there is obtaining the rare seed that I like to attempt each year and the paranoia that it will all go if I don’t order early. Suffice to say with leftover seeds from last year(s!) and this irrational collecting behaviour I am usually vegetable seeded up by Christmas. But not so of the flowery seeds.

Inevitably the media tempters will start showing gardening programmes around February that display last years bounty. This year travels of Monty here and the abundance in Glebe cottage there and to boot an A-Z of gardening which brings all the old programmes back to haunt us through the ‘down time’ in the gardening year. For research purposes I HAVE to watch all the programmes (No, I do!) and am consequently tempted beyond comprehension with all the possible flowering things there are to grow in the coming summer.

Nicotiana mutabilis

From experience I now know some of these little blighters need a VERY early start and to miss this = fail before you even get it in the ground. Last year I had stunning Nicotiana mutabilis that produced fat globular rosettes of leaves, juicy and lush and not one of the blooming things flowered, not ONE! Mainly I suspect because combined with my late start, (May as I recall) the weather was vile and we barely had sun for more than an hour about three times (slight exaggeration but you get my point. Late start + bad weather = no flowers. This year? HaHa they are already in the seed tray in the heated propagator, which will undoubtedly lead to leggy little monsters that flop at the first sign of a draft.

So back to seed catalogues. There are so many but personal favourites this year are:

Sarah Raven  – slightly pricey but wonderful and unusual varieties.

Real Seed Catalogue – if you haven’t tried them do, they have a great ethic and some wonderfully rare seeds on offer, plus the advice is excellent and works.

I’m looking forward to the Bishop’s Children Dhalia’s and some black skinned, lime flavoured Tomatillo the most and not pinning too many hopes on a second round of Nicotiana mutabilis…. What are you looking forward to growing this year?

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