Seeds For Annuals and Biennials

A yearly order of annuals and biennials from a good seed specialist is essential. The following seeds, taken mainly from their list, may serve as a beginning; as the years go by, many others could, no doubt, be added.

  • Acroclinium syn. Helipterum, is a small, mainly pink everlasting of which there are several species. All are useful, but like all immortelles they must be picked just before the flowers open too widely. Gather them early on a dry day and hang them upside down to dry. Watch out for greenfly – high upon the stalks and at the base of the flowers – and remove it with the fingers before hanging the flowers to dry.
  • Agrostemma Githago “Milas” produces attractive slender seed-heads which look well when varnished (this should be done immediately after picking.
  • Althcea rosea “Powder Puffs” (Hollyhock) is a new annual which is worth trying as it is smaller than the perennial species. Good for seed-heads and blooms for preserving.
  • Amaranthus: there are a number of variations listed, but A. Caudatus viridis (Love-in-Idleness), with its electric-green pendant racemes, is the most effective in muted arrangements. Ammobium alatunt grandiflorum (Sand Flower) is a charming white everlasting, with a yellow- turning-to-brown centre. It looks more attractive when picked and dried than when growing.
  • Antirrhinum (Snapdragon): before these bedding plants are put on the compost heap in the autumn, rescue any seed-heads worth drying. Hang them upside down.
  • Calendula officinalis (Marigold): a choice of flower-heads could be selected for preserving. Clarkia produces some attractive seed-heads.Seeds For Annuals
  • Delphinium (annual Larkspur) comes in various colours, but the white, the deep pink and the pale pink are among the most valuable flower sprays for drying. Gather while some of the buds are still unopened, thus making the most of their delicate tapering points. Pick on a dry day and hang immediately, heads downward. One can never have too many larkspurs in store.
  • Didiscus ccerulea (Blue Lace-Flower) is a useful lavender-blue everlasting.
  • Digitalis (Foxglove): the annual garden variety “Foxy” is probably the most suitable as regards size. Among the wild foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea provides seed-heads of a more delicate and appropriate scale for dried arrangements.
  • Godetia is a popular annual, many of whose forms produce useful seed-heads for drying.
  • Gomphrena globosa (Spanish Clover), is a valuable everlasting with flowers in shades of purple, pink, yellow and white – a member of the amaranthus family.
  • Gypsophila is a popular annual which dries easily when stood upright. Only the single form should be grown as others are too heavy. It should be used very sparingly in dried arrangements, and then only for “insetting”. As so little is required it is hardly worth garden space, especially as it can be found on the market in adequate quantity.
  • Helichrysum bracteatum (Straw-Flower) is an annual which is indispensable in dried flower arrangements. Mr George W. Smith, an internationally acknowledged authority on flower arranging, gives the following advice from his wide personal experience. “A genus of several everlasting species – but H. bracteatum is the half-hardy annual grown for drying. It has pretty double daisy flowers of a crisp straw-like appearance and originates from Australia. The straw-flower colour range has been much improved in recent years, and includes several soft tints of coral-pink, ivory, white and lemon, as well as the ubiquitous harsher maroons, gold and brown shades. To dry the flower-heads to perfection, gather each flower when the outer petals only are developed, and all the others are still closed over the boss of the stamen. It is futile to dry blooms which show yellow stamen centres as these will soon become overblown, discoloured and faded. Harvesting will commence with the first terminal bud and may continue throughout the growing season as ancillary side buds develop. These will be small blooms – a not undesirable feature in small decorations.”
  • Ipomcea (Morning Glory) produces attractive groups of small seed-heads, which look well when varnished.
  • Matricaria eximia, syn. Chrysanthemum Parthenium (Feverfew) has white and yellow flower heads which dry well and are useful for “insetting” in arrangements.
  • Molucella lcevis (the beautiful Bells of Ireland, also known as Shell Flower and as Molucca Balm) is not the easiest annual to grow, but well worth any amount of trouble to get it to succeed. The long stems of flowering, shell-like sheaths can be preserved in glycerine or can be hung upside down to dry.
  • Papaver: the double-flowered poppies, such as P. Rhceas and its varieties, P. somniferum, and so on, produce seed-heads in fascinating forms and colours. These are extremely useful and last for years. Lay them flat in open boxes to dry.
  • Rhodanthe is a charming everlasting. R. Manglesii, syn. Helipterum Manglesii, R. maculatum alba and R. m. rosa are some of the most dainty and ethereal flowers for drying. With their beautiful buds, and delicately twisting stems, they add great lightness to any arrangement. Dry upside down, loosely tied so that they can retain their natural form.
  • Xeranthemum annuum is another everlasting of great charm. Its single and semi-double flowers of pink and mauve shades dry easily, upside down, and are invaluable for lending delicate character to an arrangement.
  • Zinnia: many flowers of this bedding plant can be successfully processed and mounted on false wire stems. They are invaluable for adding a variety of colour in the centre – and low down – in an arrangement.

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