Its That Time Again

The bright spot in January's murk? Seed packets of course.

I have hoarded literally packets upon packets in recent years and with many unopened or barely touched the pile just gets bigger. The reality is I have a problem chucking any away. I'm more than happy to gift them to people, but sooner or later it becomes apparent that gifting starts to resemble 'backdoor' refuge, more off loading than good intention and all because I have this problem doing away with any that are unused or no longer a whim. Sigh.

If there's one corporate department that consistently enjoys inflation busting increases, it has to be the creative people handling the packaging etc at all the various seed companies worldwide.

The presentation just seems to get better and better. Some of the designs are so perfectly 'chocolate box' you simply have to avoid ripping open the packet at all cost. Better to gently steam the gummed flap over a kettle, avoiding any damage whatsoever and gingerly remove the little packet from inside.

Of course there are others that take a different approach. Packed in super strength foil with a label printed in courier or other straight talking fonts, these are the no- nonsense, 'does what it says on the tin' brigade. Rip them open, chuck the seed at the compost and take cover.

Well I 've pretty much made my seed choices for this year. Pink Cosmos is on the list, it simply has to be. So far the others are;


Cosmos bipinnatus ' purity'

Nicotiana sylvestris

Nicotiana mutabilis

Verbena x hybrida 'blue lagoon'


Crambe cordifolia

Digitalis parviflora

Echinacea paradoxa

Echinacea purpurea 'pink parasol'

Nepeta transcaucasia 'blue infinity'

Verbena hastata 'blue spires'

This list will grow, it always does, but old favourites inevitably creep in. For one, I find Nicotiana sylvestris 'only the lonely' practically irreplaceable. With its white tubular bells and six foot leafy stature, I can't think what would look better, particularly during the evening down near the riverside terrace.

So with the seed displays strategically placed at garden centres, catalogues dropping in the post box and daylight just starting to lengthen, it just feels like it'll be no time before things get busy in the garden, but then there was no real down time. We all know that.


  1. Oh how wonderful, Rob, right on schedule in the depths of frigidity! Last year I started the foxglove and Echincea paradoxa. This year the might bloom, I feel sure the foxglove will, it grew well the first year. There will be pictures posted. I agree about the tobacco too, hope mine seeded about, I forgot to collect seeds. I think you should mix all of your old seeds in a bowl and broadcast them out in a prepared bed when the soil warms and see what comes up. :-)

  2. Don't tempt me more! You have made some great choices for your garden.


  3. Nicotania is one of my absolutely favorite flowers. I have one which returns every year that reaches 8 foot tall. And the fragrance in the late evening is to die for. Great choice!

  4. Yaaaaaaaaay - life is looking more colorful ! Rob,have you ordered/bought all your seeds yet? I remember you asking me if I might have some spare nicotiana mutablis seeds. I do and have been meaning to email you :) Give me a nod if you would still like some. I will try to remember to pop back here in a couple of days.

  5. I've got a pile of seeds that I can't use, too. But I hesitate to give them all away because I MIGHT find a spot for some of them someday :-) And we do have a break here. I've got a month or two before the ground thaws and I can do anything in the garden. Good luck with your chores in the meantime.

  6. Hi Rob! I agree with Frances - I would scatter those seeds and watch what will grow. I did such trick once, and had a beautiful flower bed. I needed to guess what was what, but it looked great. As for me, I am absolutely not ready for a new season. We didn't have any snow or cold temperatures. I feel like I miss some hibernation period before starting seeding, planting, etc. This is the very first time in my life that I haven't seen any snow by the middle of January. Anyway, good luck with all those seeds!I am curious about Crambe cordifolia. Mine has been just sitting for two years without any considerable growth.

  7. Nice list! Good mix of classics with a few unexpected cultivars thrown in.

    Am interested to hear how you like the verbenas. I don't seem to use them much these days and could use a little inspiration to bring them back into the fold.

  8. Wonderful list you shared here! I am going to share a link to your blog on Recently I came in touch with a group of new gardeners on my site. They are going to love this info!

    Happy Planting.. it won't be long. I have been working on some seed planting already in OHIO - greenhouse!

  9. It is going to be stunning.

    Can't wait to see what you come up with.

    I am also suggesting Cosmo double click, love them.


  10. Your going to have lots of work pretty soon. Like your seeds selection, specially pink cosmos (have you try double ones??)
    Maria Cecilia

  11. I'm always finding seed packets stashed away in drawers and I always forget to plant them. I'm not good with seeds though.

  12. I love the fragrance of Flowering Tobacco but haven't yet tried 'Only the Lonely'. I must try 'Tinkerbell' too, I love the color.

    One of my veg crisper drawers is stuffed with seeds, only I don't have a problem with ripping open the packages. lol Most of the seeds were collected here or were obtained in trades anyway. I cleared out the drawer 3 years ago and lo and behold it's full again!

  13. Thought I'd pop over and wish you a Happy New Year - discovered your lovely blog via Blotanical - we're based up in Brittany and have certainly had our fair share of snow this year - how about you? Hope 2010 is a good year for you... best wishes Miranda

  14. I have so many packets of seeds too Rob! I think I will just plant everyone of them this year and see what comes up. I must plant Nicotiana sylvestris this year! I love it. It looks like Frances and I are kindred... I just read what she wrote ... though I will mark each row with what I plant. I do love your selection of seeds! ;-)

  15. Many of my favorites in your choices, Rob, and Pink cosmos ( in my mother's garden and mine for many years until sunny space became an issue) a MUST! Since our growing season is so short and I am away from my garden for long periods, I must admit I buy starters and purchase seeds simply for the 'must have' luring seed packet!

  16. Ooh la la...!
    Will be planting double pink cosmos at T's allotment this summer. His sunny spot much more appropriate than my increasingly shady garden.
    Best to you on another dreary wet Northern California day, Alice

  17. I just finished making my seed order earlier this week. It's such a wonderful gardening ritual and always makes me so happy.
    I'm going to check out the nicotiana you mentioned. I've grown the straight species but not that variety.

  18. If you are ever tempted to throw any away, don't do it, i'll gladly take them :)


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