Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I’m not very good at growing plants from seed. I always buy too many varieties and I start sowing late because otherwise my greenhouse will be bursting with tender plants before the frosts have finished.
I sow in haste and prick out at leisure. Well, I do try to pot up the seedlings in a timely way, before they have knotted together, but there’s always something which suffers a bit and ends up either straggly or dead.
Then at planting out time there’s another bottleneck – I ALWAYS grow too much to be able to plant out everything in prime condition and some young plants which should have found a home two months ago are even now languishing in my greenhouse, their lives hanging by a thread in 9cm pots.
Survival of the fittest then, because after planting out they have to run the gauntlet of my giant spanish slugs, which can eat a young plant in a single gulp and lurk rubberily under my pots until I scoop them out (shuddering at the supernatural stickiness of them) and put them in the green bin. I can squash the small ones but the big ones are just tiny trampolines and slither off, cackling, even when I have jumped on them with my best hobnailed boots.
So well done, Ageratum houstonianum ‘Timeless Mixed’. These plants have survived all this and still have enough presence to be noticed in the chaos of my garden and the crowdedness of my pots. The seed came from Thompson & Morgan – I’m afraid I can’t remember when and where or if I bought it, it may possibly have been a freebie from an event I attended at their trials garden last year. Anyway, Jolly Good, I say.
I love the flowers best just before they open, when they are still quite buttony. The dark pink and the lavender blue are my favourites, the pale pink is wishy-washy. They tolerate a bit of drought too: in my pots they incline their heads politely and promptly when thirsty and in my sand-on-sand garden they are independent after just a few waterings-in.
Best of all, they are quite tall, about 45cm/18″, not the nasty, stumpy ageratums of 70s parks bedding. Hurrah!