Four Heads Are Better Than One

IMG_0078As requested by Jeni, I am posting a wider picture of the sunflowers I have been trialling for Which? Gardening. There are three plants here (known only as ‘A’) with each sturdy stem seemingly producing four heads, and at around 1.2m tall they make a useful contribution to the right hand hot border – but flowering earlier than this would have been even better, to add a contrast to the earlier crocosmia. I haven’t grown a sunflower successfully from seed for years, but would happily grow these again or ones of a similar height and colour, although I would also like to try the mahogany ones again that I started from seed this year but which failed to survive once they were planted out.

IMG_0082I have had so many positive comments and several questions about Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ that I can’t remember who had asked what. I was asked about the size, which this year has been a spread of around 2m and a height of 1.5 m or more, and also if it needed to be pruned. Well, I was unsure about the pruning and couldn’t recall whether it dies back in winter either, so I looked on the RHS website and was amazed that it supposedly grows to a height of 0.75m with a spread of 1m  – I don’t think so!! Not this year, anyway, although others bloggers have mentioned the unusually vigorous growth of their persicarias this year. I don’t recall having cut it back before but the website suggests doing this in autumn, so I am guessing it must die back over winter and it doesn’t seem to stand out on my winter and spring photos from last year so I suppose it must do. It has always been a striking plant, one I have had for about 7 or 8 years, I think, but this year has been magnificent with its contrasting marked leaves and insignificant and late white flowers.

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8 Responses to Four Heads Are Better Than One

  1. GREAT POST!!! Looks like the Persicaria really did well…

  2. Annette says:

    I like the colours of your sunflowers especially the one on the left, and your Persicaria is such an impressive plant that I realize its spot has to be chosen very carefully.

    • Cathy says:

      The sunflowers are supposedly the same variety, and on inspecting them today it looks as if they change colour as they mature, from plain pale yellow to pale yellow with a darker stripe to pale orange/brown with a stripe. Must keep watching! The persicaria obviously loves where it is!

      • Annette says:

        can you collect seeds or are they infertile? maybe we could swap? 😉

        • Cathy says:

          I am unsure if these will be sterile as some of the sunflowers being tested had no pollen but I don’t know if it was these and if that would affect seed production. It would be a good idea to collect the seeds (something I have not done before) if they are produced and you are welcome to some if they do

  3. Jeni says:

    Thanks for the pic, Cathy. The sunnies are lovely aren’t they – and saving a little of the seed seems a good idea too. The variety name will be published next spring but I agree with you that if earlier flowers could be achieved it would make them even more impressive. Successional sowings perhaps…
    I too have had trouble getting sunflower seedlings past the slug-and-pigeon-food stage. My strategy this year, although not pretty, was to plant out babies at 4-6″ tall, stake with a 2foot cane, and thread a 2litre pop bottle down each cane (bottoms removed). Ta-da, bespoke cloches cost me nothing extra, and could contain a pinch of slug pellets away from the birds. By the time the plants reached the top of the bottle, they had toughened up enough to cope with life.

    • Cathy says:

      I tend to think I don’t have much of a slug problem, but I am sure it was slugs that had the others, so the bottle cloche sounds a great idea. I didn’t get the seeds till late April so an earlier sowing next year would make a difference, I realise, but successional sowings would be even better. Thanks for the suggestions

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