Now's the time to plant your spring flower garden. Flowers as varied as poppies and alyssum, nigella and calendula bloom earlier in spring if their seeds are planted in autumn. The seeds germinate and the plants get established, then bloom as the days lengthen and the soil begins to warm.
It's such a spring-affirming thing to plant seeds now, and it's an economical way to have lots of flowers early in the season. A couple of seed packets will give you flowers long before the starts appear in the nursery.
I've always scattered seeds of Shirley poppies in late September; but what other kinds of flowers can be started this time of year? I asked Renee Shepherd of Renee's Garden Seeds what flowers take to having their seed scattered about in autumn in our climate?
First, she kindly and gently took me to task on using the word "scatter". "Remember that seeds need to be planted properly according to package directions and given good drainage, and protection from snails and slugs," cautions Renee. She's sure right about the good drainage. I've had sweet peas rot in the ground when I've planted them during a rainy February, let alone before our rainiest month of November...
Here's her list of flowers that obligingly come from seed...and they come earlier if you plant them soon...
Cerinthe "Pride of Gibraltar' is one of those flowers that if you plant it once, it will always be with you - in a good way...
Alyssum like this pretty 'Summer Peaches' variety grows easily from seed and attracts more beneficial insects to the garden than any other kind of flower.
Pansies & Violas
And all kinds of annual poppies; the watercolor beauty and paper thin blossoms of these willowy Shirley poppies capture the essence of poppiness.
All photos (and good advice) courtesy of Renee's Garden Seeds