Honesty is a gorgeous biennial plant that once you have it, makes itself at home in swathes. It comes in lovely purple or white flowers in late Spring, preferring dampish chalky soils.
The flowers look great in a woodland setting or a main border providing a splash of colour in an otherwise rather monochrome moment. the greeny/purple disc -like seed heads look great with alliums as
can be seen in this pic:
After going to seed, I pulled up some of the plants and let them dry out.
This evening whilst tucked up inside on a Sunday evening I pulled away the outer discs and collected the seeds.
And was left with the translucent skeletons which I popped in a vase. Somewhat reminiscent of my mothers home back in the seventies when they featured next to the Bullrushes and the Cheese plant… I think I shall keep them for a couple of weeks and then relegate them to the compost.
The seeds I shall pop in an envelope and keep in a cool dark place to sow next year (although there will be no flowers from these until 2016.)
That is the way with gardening. We are in it for the long haul.
We dragged ourselves around the gardens this week in the searing heat with plenty of jobs to keep us busy. With gardens this size most of the plants have to fend for themselves in the dry conditions, watering them all is not an option. Sadly there is plenty of cutting back to do as we move through the peak flowering period of summer.
Plants that have been cut right back to the ground are:
Seen here, right at the back of the border with blue spherical spiky flowers. The bees are still buzzing around a few but generally they have started to collapse and if we cut them down now we should get a second growth spurt and more flowers on shorter stems for the end of summer.
The Echinops in the foreground of this photo were given the ‘Chelsea chop’ in May – cutting the growth by half. They are flowering later, are slightly shorter stems and are still strong and upright.
You don’t have to throw everything on the compost heap!
I have made the mistake in the past of just cutting off the dead flower spikes, but if you cut the whole thing right down to a couple of inches, they will shoot and flower again.
When the red/orange flowers in this photo are over just grab the stems and pull them out. It looks like there is nothing left by the time you have finished but miraculously they sprout again too.
Unfortunately I don’t have a photo, but by this time of year the seed pods have dried out and self sown and the foliage is looking very tatty, so cut the whole lot off and fresh new foliage will replace the old.
Verbascum bombyciferum and opium poppies can be pulled out of the ground now. They won’t grow again but will have self seeded. The poppy seed heads may not be quite dried out yet but can be hung upside down with a paper bag over the heads to catch the seed for next year.
With Kniphofia (Red Hot Pokers) and Hemerocallis (Day Lilies) – you can cut down the flower spikes but leave the strappy foliage to keep them tidy.
Finally, as you go round chopping things down don’t forget to save seed where you can.. pop it in an envelope with the name and date of collection ready to sow next year or swap with other like-minded individuals. Last year at Seedy Sunday in Brighton, I swapped my everlasting sweet pea seeds for some beautiful single white opium poppies and gorgeous blue corn cockles. There’s nothing like free flowers 🙂