Friday, 14 August 2009


This is rather an open category, but it allows the widest of possible interpretations. We want to see the very best thing, in your humble opinion, you grew from seed this growing season. Or which has flowered for the first time this growing season if germinated earlier. Oh, we're not that strict - just send us the pics.

The best thing I grew from seed this year is arguably the best thing I always grow, this Echium pinniana. I started off with a packet my aunt got me from the Scillies more than ten years ago and now I mostly have flowers every year. Odd-numbered years still aren't quite as spectacular as even-numbered, so I can't move house before summer 2010. 

Emma Cooper sent this: "Quinoa flowers, very impressive and hopefully the precursor to something edible." As even organic shop Quinoa normally comes from Bolivia I would be very impressed if she could grow it in south-east England. And if this actually ripens, it looks as if its these little seed you actually eat. I should ask Emma. Actually, she knows such a lot, she should probably write a book. Oh! She has! I would have thought I'd have already mentioned that.

From Blackpitts comes this: 

"I am really not very good at growing things from seed. I decided a while ago that I couldn't manage everything so dropped the following skills from my repertoire: snowboarding (and all other winter based sports except gentle skating), neurosurgery, breeding of prize winning cats, truffle hunting, the playing of any sort of musical instrument (including harmonica and stylophone), marathon running, cobbling and growing things from seed.** Things are grown from seed around here but mainly by my talented and lovely wife.
However, this year I have made an exception and grown Persicaria orientalis: a plant about which many blog inches were written after the RHS Inner Temple Show. I won the seeds in a VP based competition and, as they had come from Great Dixter I thought I would give it a go. I had fifty seeds of which I germinated three. Not a very impressive record but I am rather proud of them.
They are planted with Persicaria amplexicaulis Alba and Calmagrostis Karl Foerster.

**the list is a great deal longer than this but I feared that I was getting very dull - as opposed to just dull which is my default setting."

Now I remember the competition as set up by VP and I want to know if she got any of hers to germinate. 

24th August update

Ah, here's one from Victoria, growing in her backyard. She says, "First pic is of a nasturtium, 'Strawberries and Cream' which I grew this year from seed, actually managed to plant out and is now flowering in my garden. Can't quite believe it."

And look at these! They were grown by a cake! The bun speaks: "Coooeee Ems, My first entry, best thing from seed. A Ricinus, can't remember which one, possibly Carmencita red. It's already as tall as Mr Beardshaw and unlike him, still growing! Best of luck with the show! Sarah aka Fat Rascal." We love it. Beautiful, and with a a Beardshaw joke into the bargain. Value.

29th August, update 

Helen the Patient Gardener writes: "As you know I am a seedaholic but these are two plants that I am particularly proud of this year. First is my Lobelia cardinalis - I actually grew these from seed last year but it has taken thm a year to really bulk up and produce these gorgeous flower spikes with little or no slug damage. Second is my Galtonia - Again these were sown last year and the seedling was just a couple of whispy leaves. I then forgot about them until leaves started to appear in the pot this year. The leaves got fatter and lusher and then a flower spike appeared. Fab, quick plant it out. There were actually two but I knocked one off the shelving unit on the patio when it was still in a pot and the flower spike snapped off! Never mind I have planted it out too so hopefully next year they will be even bigger and better."

I can't believe she grew a Galtonia from seed, I'm amazed if I can get one to flower from a big fat bulb I always have such a struggle with the slugs.

And Karen, from An Artist's Garden, sent this absolutely goooooorrrrrgeous photo. She says, "This is my Angelica sylvest Purpurea, which I grew from seed supplied by derry watkins, as I biennial, it seems to have taken ages to reach the point of flowering, I quite like it – and so do the wasps."  
I know Marina Christopher always recommends this one as a favourite with hoverflies etc.

New Shoot sent this, gorgeous. She writes: "Best thing from seed, subcategory of entry: Three-way Persicaria Challenge! It's a really difficult plant to photograph - particularly as the stems are really skinny and don't show up. I reckon mine are better than James A-S's though - even though my photos don't deserve to be on the same page as his…and I definitely beat VP as her seeds are still in the packet!!"

She goes on to earn extra brownie points for cultivational info: "The plants weren't weren't very inspiring at first. I nurtured them for ages, but they were so pathetic at planting time the gardeners only put them in the border out of pity for me I think! Very weedy little six inch high specimens went in the ground, they had to be lovingly hand-cleaned from a plague of aphids by one of my wonderful volunteers brandishing damp kitchen roll. However, look now! Taller than me (although not very difficult at 5ft 2) They grew slowly, and kept on growing, and kept on growing and still haven't stopped yet. The gorgeous dark dahlia in case anyone is interested (and knowing your readership of course they all are!) is Chat Noir."


Elizabeth M writes, "The sunflower was grown from a freebie packet that came with a magazine. I have long since thrown the packet away so have no idea what it is but I love the colour. 

"The echinacea is the first successful thing I have grown using my new heated propagator. For reasons which I don't understand quite a lot of the things I sowed came up and then immediately keeled over but the echinacea produced five lovely little seedlings which grew to three nice solid healthy plants. They are flowering away now and I love them to bits. Maternal pride.

"The sweet peas are a mixture of an old fashioned variety and some Sarah Raven seeds sent to me by a fellow blogger (Zoe of Garden Hopping). They smell divine and are flowering fit to burst."

What a lovely lot of blooms.

I love this category. Even though I invented it. But I love seeing what everyone got down to this year, what everyone views as an achievement. From Mr Mark D, Otter Farm, it's tiny gherkins!! They are straight out of Richard Scarry! 

And from VP, the following message which made me smile.... "Right, seeing I didn't realise there'd be a tough Persicaria sub-category in this year's competition, I thought I'd redeem myself by entering these velvety Nasturtiums from my allotment. They've self-seeded themselves each year and the ordinary orange/yellow mix of my original planting is now throwing up some gorgeous deep reds to add some variety to the mix. Also my Sturon onion crop's hiding in there somewhere."

And Simon sent in a whole load of gorgeous pics. He writes, "Actually I couldn't choose a best thing, so in the best vegetable from seed sub-category that I've just made up I'd like to enter my peas and also my Greyhound cabbages; then in the best flowers from seed sub-category that I've just made up my carnations and snapdragons. I hope I win something or I'll cry." 

Uhoh! But on the upside I'm sure that just means he's fully in touch with his feminine side. my favourite is those glorious Carnations, how lovely are they?


  1. (In a very small voice...)

    Um, I forgot to sow mine.

    However I can report back directly from Lytes Cary Manor today that New Shoot can give you a very good run for your money.

  2. New Shoot, post those pics!

  3. It's such a toss up - the Black Peony Poppy or the Merlot lettuce? Let me ruminate on this.

  4. Go on then, you can enter it twice

  5. Yes ! I will enter my Persicaria in competition with James A-S's. I took my camera to work today - had a quick squint first thing at the tropical border where they are planted - thought 'They look nice with those Morning Glory, I'll get some nice arty shots at the end of the day when the visitors have gone home'

    See the mistake in the logic there?

    The clue is in the name - Morning Glory - Doh! Silly me! At 5:30 they were all closed up for the night…

    So tomorrow morning I'm going in early to photograph the two together before the visitors arrive...

    Bet it's raining!

  6. On a point of order, Madam Chairman, and in the spirit of pettyfogging often prevalent at such shows.........
    are VPs self sown Nasturtiums eligible for this category? They were after all sown by themselves and not by VP ?

  7. That is very much in the spirit of the man who drilled his neighbour's pumpkin, and I applaud you for such a mimsy objection!

  8. I've just been in touch with the High Sheriff of Emsworth who is going to be awarding the cups, and she says that the category is not about being sown by the person, but being grown. So it doesn't matter who sowed them, it could be me, you or God himself.

    objection overruled!

    (I've always wanted to say that!)

  9. Hear hear :)

    After all, I did sow the original lot 5 years ago!