Sprouting seeds for summertime

Today I bought sweet-pea seeds, one package of knee high and the second called Jewels of Albion a taller mix of colours, but both varieties “guaranteed” to be fragrant.

I’ve put some to soak overnight in a couple of soup bowls with a half inch of water in the bottom. I think I’ll only plant half the seeds, saving the remainder to sow in a couple of weeks, to spread out the blooming period. At the same time I got some spinach and some carrot seed. Some of the spinach I’ll plant now, saving the rest to go in later, for the same reason, but the carrots will go in now as they require longer to mature. It’s an exciting time for gardeners, even when seeds have to go into pots on a balcony.

Maybe you recall my mentioning that I hadn’t been able to find the marmalade essence called Mamade. When last week’s News Review was delivered the next thing I knew there was a phone call from a long ago friend Jack C. telling me it was available locally. I’ll pick up a tin tomorrow as my daughter is due for a visit, and she is the marmalade queen of the world. And there will be a jar as well for Stewart M. who is almost as fond of it as Lenox. I’m going to pick the ripe miniature oranges on my small tree and add them to the mixture. I don’t know that they add that much flavour to the marmalade, but it makes me feel good to use them, pretty as they look on the tree.

Annie brought me a bouquet of Hellebore blossoms from Melissa Street. I never picked them when we lived there, so when I put them in a vase and they promptly wilted, I was horrified. I tried to revive them by laying them in a sink half full of cold water, but they were determined not to respond. I looked them up on the computer and all it showed were flat vases containing only the blossoms, floating merrily on the surface. I wonder if you burned the cut ends with a match, as you do some other flowers, if they would stay upright?

Any suggestions gardeners? I love Hellebores, but they are expensive. However I have discovered in reading about them that some have pink blooms, and that Thimble Farms on Salt Spring Island specializes in these lovely perennials. Maybe a trip over there would be a worth-while adventure when the weather warms up a bit.

Helen Lang has been the Peninsula News Review’s garden columnist for more than 25 years.



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