I have been a seedaholic for some years now though the last couple of years I was diverted by growing vegetable seedlings for the slugs and snails. However, I am now back to my first love ornamentals and in particular perennials.
This year I placed my first order with the Alpine Garden Society which has one of, if not the best, seed distribution scheme in the world. My seeds arrived just after Christmas and I spent some time last week researching sowing requirements for various alpines. I found the Scottish Rock Garden Club website and forum really helpful.
The first batch of seeds were sown last weekend so that they could benefit from the cold weather that is forecast over the coming weeks. A spell in the cold is often helps break the dormancy of seeds particularly those from alpine conditions. After reading numerous sites I chose to use a 50:50 mix of John Innes No 3 and grit for my seed mix, this will provide the drainage needed as well as nutrients as many alpine seedlings aren’t germinated in the first year but left to grow on for a year or two. The following were sown:
Linaria genistifolia dalmatica
Primula wilsonii anisodora
I also sowed two lots of cyclamen: Cyclamen hederifolium ‘Silver Cloud’ and Cyclamen africanum. Following advice I soaked these for 24 hours in warm water which a dash of washing up liquid in to help break the hard seed coating. They went into the same seed mix
Crocus speciosus and Crocus goulimyi were sown in half filled pots topped up with another half pot of seed mix. The reason for this is that crocus are sown deep because the bulb forms alongside the seed and this method prevents the seedling/bulb having to waste energy pulling itself down into the pot. As this is the advice I have read on several forums (it is also relevant to Narcissus seed which I hope to try next year) I decided it made sense to give it a go. After all the seeds cost little so it is worthwhile having an experiment.
The final seeds sown were of Meconopsis napaulensis a beautiful pale yellow Meconopsis poppy which I feel in love with some months ago on reading an article. For these I sterilised the compost in the oven, much to the amusement of my son. Again, doing some research on-line I found a very interesting web-site and decided to follow the advice on it.
So that is the first batch sown. I have more from the AGS to sow but they need slightly warmer temperatures so they will wait until March/April. I am now waiting on my seeds from the Hardy Plant Society to see what I have been allocated in their distribution scheme. I have also just ordered some seeds from a seed collector in the USA, more alpine seeds but including a number of aquilegia and delphiniums which I am very fond of. They should arrive in a couple of weeks.
It seems a lot but when I heard that people request 100s of packets from the AGS scheme I felt a lot better although I have to acknowledge that they are generally nurserymen!
I will do an update on the seeds progress as and when there is some news.