Cheiranthus cheiri

Wallflowers have been a favourite cot-tage plant in Britain for centuries thomas Tusser. Pundit on husbandry, recommended them in 1557 ‘for windows and pots’. They are still beloved for their velvety flowers in spring and for their rich scent. Bushy plants (if you have grown them well), they have upright sprays of usually single flowers in bronze, yellow, pink, orange and scarlet on woody stalks up to 2 feet (60 cm) tall. They need relatively mild winters to survive and are classic examples of plants best grown as biennials. They may be perennial in a good weather cycle.

The important thing in growing wallflowers is, after sowing seeds in early summer, to prick them out as soon as the seedlings are large enough, so that they can grow good roots before their final transplanting in autumn. That is why wallflowers are not a suitable plant for buying at garden centres, for they usually have too much top growth in proportion to their roots. When you finally plant them out, 16 inches (40 cm) apart, you must find a sheltered spot, for they hate wind, and they need dry, well-drained. Limy soil. A narrow bed beneath a window is ideal.

Some gardeners sow them in a glo-rious mixture of colours. Others prefer to keep to one colour, in which case some tulips among them would lift the monotony, say pale yellow tulips with the scarlet wallflower ‘Fire King’, or purple tulips with the yellow ‘Golden Monarch’. There is also a fine double yellow wallflower, dwarfer in size, called ‘Harpur Crewe’.

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