If you don’t want miss out on a floral treat by sowing seeds of biennials or plants such as foxgloves that take two years to mature, now so they produce plantlets that will definitely bloom next year.
On the whole biennials are easy to raise from seed, space sowing larger seeds such as silvery Miss Willmott’s ghost, Eryngium giganteum in trays or cells, while sowing fine seed such as foxgloves and Icelandic poppies, or Papaver nudicaule and then pricking out into cells when they are large enough to handle. When sowing in summer keep an eye that vulnerable seedlings don’t dry out and are shaded from direct hot sun until they are established in larger pots. All the plants profiled here grow best in any moist, but well-drained soil.
Foxgloves perform quite comfortably in shade, or in sun once they are established and if their colours are coordinated and dotted around the garden their spires of bloom which last may weeks will help provide strong visual cohesion. Conversely, Eryngium giganteum will happily grow in a sunny position in drier soil and is an excellent ingredient for silver or white borders where their statuesque outlines also provide a long lasting visual accent.
If you are looking for cut flowers then sweet William, Dianthus barbatus and Icelandic poppies will fit the bill. Icelandic poppies will flower from late spring from a tuft of light-green leaves and will produce a succession of blooms especially if spent ones are removed. They can also be sown directly where they are to flower as their fine roots can be sensitive to disturbance when pricking out, where its better to patch out small clumps of seedlings than individuals.
Once your biennials have finished blooming each will self-sow to produce their own plantlets, so thin them out or remove them as required to control their future presence. If you don’t want them to self- seed remove plants immediately after flowering, or just save a little seed to sow yourself before uprooting.