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SEEDS OF CHANGE; It's ideal time to scour seed catalogues for new and unusual specimens for spring/summer to give as lovely festive gifts.

Byline: DIARMUID GAVIN

The autumnal colours this year have been superb, a fiery and warm display to cheer us up through November.

Another happy activity is thinking about spring and summer colour for next year, and one of the best ways to do this is to browse seed catalogues to see what's new.

There's so much promise and excitement contained within these little packets and they can make delightful Christmas gifts for your green-fingered friends.

Every year Fleuroselect, the international organisation for ornamental plants, singles one out for special mention and members have decided 2019 is the year of the nasturtium. A good choice - nasturtium seeds give so much colour for so little trouble. I often recommend them as a way to get kids interested in gardening - the seed is large and therefore easy to handle, germination is reliable and the circular leaves very identifiable when they push up through the soil. Some gardeners use them for companion planting in vegetable patches to repel pests and attract insects.

And if all that wasn't enough, they're edible and make lovely colourful additions to salads with a slightly peppery taste.

Thompson& Morgan's breeding programme has come up with Orchid Flame a nasturtium that changes colour as it matures - developing from red with yellow splashes to fully yellow. This exclusive annual nasturtium mounds up to a foot high and then cascades down a couple of feet so is perfect for hanging baskets or trellis. Ladybird is a dwarf bushy variety with golden yellow flowers that have five bright red spots. Sow from March to May in situ. (Thompson-morgan.com).

Other interesting selections that caught my eye include Viola 'Back to Black' from Johnsons Seeds (johnsons-seeds.com). The jet black blooms are very long flowering and will make a dramatic addition to pots. Sow indoors in February and March, outdoors from April.

Over at mr-fothergills.co.uk, there's sweet pea Lathyrus 'Terry Wogan' with warm salmon-pink blush blooms with a beautiful scent - what a lovely way to remember the much-loved Radio 2 broadcaster.

Chiltern Seeds (chilternseeds.

co.uk) is my go-to for all that is rare and unusual. For 2019 they have a gorgeous Helichrysum 'Silvery Rose'. This has shimmering silvery-pink daisylike paper flowers, great for cutting and drying. Sow indoors from January to April with light sprinkle of soil at a temperature of 22-24C.

Phlox drummondii 'Blushing Bride' also looks very pretty with blush pink and silvery white blossoms.

Sarah Raven's new collection includes Scabiosa stellata 'Sternkugel' with paper globe seed heads which are beautiful and delicate, and suitable for drying. Her top tip here is a dash of hairspray around their heads to keep them robust after cutting. Also looking tempting is the Antirrhinum 'Chantilly White', a long-flowering white snapdragon with a delicious scent. (sarahraven.com) Finally, I lovee Sutton's new nemesia, 'Masquerade'. Very unusual flowers with yellow bases and quirky, spiky heads and lovely coconut fragrance (suttons.co.uk).

CAPTION(S):

NASTURTIUM 'ORCHID FLAME'

NASTURTIUM 'LADYBIRD'

Scabiosa stellata 'Sternkugel'

Helichrysum 'Silvery Rose'

NEMESIA 'MASQUERADE'

Viola 'Back to Black'

Lathyrus 'Terry Wogan'

Phlox drummondii 'Blushing Bride'
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 25, 2018
Words:514
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