Good and Bad Buys

I wanted to note my plant successes and failures but also I just wanted to document what plants I've bought as I decided to have a clear-out of all those plant labels I accumulated. This takes up less room. I just read through this again and it needs consolidating! working on that

Spring 2017 - still in progress updating this - also see the Seeds page

Mr Fothergill's

Good flowers from Cornflower Blue Ball last year and this year.

Echium Blue Bedder has been a great success, not a massive number of plants but the few I got the bees have been loving for weeks.

Dierama Blackbird (hardy perennial) 8 plants resulting from a 25-seed packet, happy with that, look forward to flowers next year.

Disappointing: Thompson and Morgan: Scabiosa House's Novelty Mix, Scabiosa Ebony and Ivory, Seriously Scarlet Poppy, Rudbeckia Green Wizard.

Success: I try to grow from seed as it's so much less expensive but was tempted by small Nepeta faassenii Six Hills Giant (£11.40 for 6) and small Veronica Blauriesin  (£5.10 for 3) from Peter Nyssen mail ordered in March. That's less than £2 per plant. Very pleased with the results. Much better value than waiting until June when there are large plants in the garden centre for £10 or so. There were also small "catnip" plants of this in the herb section of the garden centre for 5 for £10 so bought some of those as well. I have loads of nepeta in bloom early this year with these purchases. I've still grown nepeta from seed, nepeta cataria, for the cats, larger leaved plants on the right below. They have small white flowers although these are not in bloom yet. (I've never seen Six Hills Giant seed for sale)

nepeta fassennii six hills giant

the buds are just opening on the veronica flower spikes (I will take another photo today as this one from yesterday is not in focus)

veronica blaureisin

I am giving up on those Veronica Royal Candles, etc. as I've spent a fortune on plants that look good for a short time and then die and don't come back the next year.

Failure: poor results from Taylors ranunculus (photo to be added)

Failure: Muscari bulbs and vases from Marks and Spencer, sold Autumn 2016 for indoor forcing - complete failure. From what I can tell after researching this, muscari bulbs will not flower on water alone in a vase. I would love to see a real example, especially from M+S. They will work if on pebbles or something other than water alone.

Going through my old seed packets and plant labels again and it's given any intermittently-germinating seeds from previous years a chance. Most of 2016's results are at the Seeds page but these results take in previous year's sowings.

Successes/Partial Successes from previous years

Suffolk Herbs Rosemary I got a few plants, no more than 5 from 100 seeds

Thompson & Morgan Knautia Macedonia Melton Pastels pleased with the quality and number of plants I got (30 seeds) - not sure exactly how many but at least a dozen, more than I could use so shared with neighbours. They've come back the next year and self-seeded. (why couldn't more packets of seeds be like this ??)

Thompson & Morgan Agastache Anisata (hardy perennial) I have these everywhere! They self-seed like mad and will grow anywhere. They are all over the patio next door, growing between the paving slabs and growing between the paving near the pots I put outside my neighbours' round the corner and in just about every pot I have. The bees love the purple flowers.

in past years Viola Floral Powers got a reasonable number of plants in a reasonable time and beautiful flowers. Not sure they do this variety anymore, must check. - update Spring 2017 - they still do them, bought more, 2 packets came with the seeds completely crushed, have replacements which I planted and they are a bust, not sure I have a single seedling. I guess my love affair with these is over, sadly.

in past years Thompson & Morgan Nasturtium Phoenix  reasonable number of plants but didn't note exactly. I noticed one self-seeding and flowering (April 2017) in one of the pots I did for neighbours with my spare plants.

Nice flowers from Mr Fothergill's Calendula and Calendula Princess Orange Black and they've been self-seeding for the last few years.

I got a few flowers from Thompson and Morgan Pink Fizz Poppies (also see them called Papaver Laciniatum "Pink Bicolor"), collected the seed and got a few flowers the next year.

Seed Failures:

Special mention has got to go to the companies selling these poppy seeds to commemorate the First World War - a complete con. None of them work.

red poppy seeds

Sarah Raven's Echium Blue Bedder 2 packets either 1 was a replacement or I liked it so much I bought another to try again nothing from either packet, no germination at all.

Sarah Raven's Monarda Bergamo 2 packets either 1 was a replacement or I liked it so much I bought another to try again nothing from either packet, no germination at all.

Mr Fothergill's Iris Chrysographes Nothing, no germination at all.

Johnsons World Botanics Poppy Royal Wedding think I got a seedling or 2 (from 100 seeds) but they did not survive.

Johnsons Pansy Black Star I had a few seedlings but they did not survive, very poor from 75 seeds

Thompson & Morgan Dierama Nothing, no germination at all.

Thompson & Morgan Monkshood Nothing, no germination at all.

Suffolk Herbs Lavender Vera Nothing, no germination at all.

Mr Fothergill's Sweet Peas, 4 different varieties I planted in 2015, I didn't get any plants but I can't remember now if the slugs got them all.

Can't recall many flowers from Mr Fothergill's Chicky Chicks.

Spring 2016

Narcissus Green Eyes

totally pathetic, no flowers from a pack of 10 except 2 that started rotting before blooming properly

narcissus green eyes

Summer 2015

I bought 3 sea holly from the garden centre in the "wildflower" range and 1 of the 3 did not bloom - didn't even get a flower stem. Another 2 plants purchased the previous year did not bloom and I think 1 of them died. Although I like eryngium very much I'm finding it a temperamental plant - and I resorted to buying plants as I've had failures with seeds.

sea holly

still nothing from a May sowing of Sarah Raven's Monarda Bergamo and Echium Blue Bedder

about 3 seedlings from 2 packets of Mr Fothergill's Delphinium Magic Fountains

no lavender seedlings from Suffolk Herbs but 3 or 4 of the Rosemary

Spring 2015

This spring I have planted 4 different sweet peas, Viola Chicky Chicks, Scabious Blue Cushion, Delphinium Magic Fountains Midnight and Sunflower Taiyo all from Mr Fothergills, also calendula although I can't find the seed packet right now so not sure which supplier, from Suffolk Herbs Lavender Vera and Rosemary and from Sarah Raven (Johnsons) Monarda Bergamo and Echium Blue Bedder.

I went through my seed packets and a few were successful:

I got plants from Suffolk Herbs Hyssop seeds but the slugs destoyed them, Johnsons Sunflower seeds produced flowering plants, I had great flowers from Thompson and Morgan Scabiosa Oxford Blue seeds, I had good results from Johnsons Love in a Mist Persian Jewels seeds, great results from Mr Fothergills Echinops seeds, cats enjoyed the cat grass produced by Mr Fothergills cat grass seeds,  flowers from Thompson and Morgan Antirrhinum, ok results from Sarah Raven's Cornflower Polka Dot seeds, although they didn't match the photo on the pack - the case with so many seeds.

happy with Mr Fothergill's Lupin Russell Mixed, bloomed first year and I've collected seeds and grown them since

loved Tasty Pansy from Thompson and Morgan but they don't do them anymore

I am shocked so many did not produce any seedlings, let alone full size plants.

Did not germinate:

Thompson and Mogan Eryngium, Primula Auricula, Agastache Astello Indigo, Catmint

Mr Fothergills Eryngium, Iris Chrysographes, Aconitum Nappelus, Bergamot

Suffolk Herbs Bergamot, Nepeta Cataria

Disappointing results from various brands of red poppy seeds which I was looking forward to using as acknowledgment of the start of the First World War.

Taylors Tete-a-tete daffodil bulbs

I bought a pack of 25 of these (Sept 2014) and when I got them home, 5 bulbs were empty husks of brown papery bulbs. I took the pack back to the garden centre and they said, take another pack. When I got it home, another 5 of the 25 bulbs were empty. Not very impressed. I emailed the company and got this ridiculous response:

"Dear Julie

I was sorry to hear that you were disappointed with your purchase. Whilst we do everything we can to ensure that all the bulbs we pack are sound it is not always possible to detect low levels of disease without destroying the bulb in the process. We are after all dealing with a live plant and on occassion there may well be a low level of disease present that can only be detected by cutting the bulb in half. Very often the problem will not progress and once the bulb is planted antagonistic fungi in the soil will enable the bulb to recover. In other cases if the bulbs are not stored correctly after planting the problem increases with the result you experienced.

We inspect all the bulbs we pack as they are delivered from the grower and again as they are packed but as yet there is no method of seeing what is happening inside the bulb without doing serious damage to it.

Yours sincerely

J W Walkers

Quality Manager"


Plant total failures

Brother Cadfael rose from Clifton Nursery

Hydrangea from Clifton Nursery

Blueberry from Clifton Nursery

Verbena Bonariensis from Hopley Plants

3 out of 5 Iris from Wisley never grew or bloomed: Superstition, Persian Berry and either Best Bet or Mystique (not sure which plant I have (see Purple Flowers)

9 out of 10 Whittali tulips from Wisley

Liatris spicata: never came back the next year

alpine Gentiana Blue Silk: never came back the next year

alpine Delphinium Blue Butterfly: never came back the next year

alpine Viola Molly Sanderson: never came back the next year

Veronica spicata Red Fox (from Aylett Nursery I think): never came back the next year, so disappointing as I love Veronica

Geranium Ann Folkard: never came back the next year

Echinacea "Fatal Attraction" and "Green Jewel" from Phoenix Perennial Plants: never came back the next year

alpine Dianthus Brilliant Star: never came back the next year

water plants: water spearmint, typha minima, ranunculus flammula, cotula coronopifolia: none came back the next year

erigeron from Crocus: never came back the next year

Clematis Victor Hugo from Crocus: never came back the next year

Geranium Rozanne - has not come back this year and after no flowers last year I am appalled this was named plant of the centenary, why?

Poor performers

Wisteria floribunda "Honbeni" - has never bloomed in 7 or 8 years

Veronica Royal Candles (I love it! one of my favourite plants.  After a poor second year it seems to have revived in the 3rd year) and now it hasn't come back at all this year so I bought another one.

Nepeta from came damaged but grew for a couple years did not come back this year (2013) so bought a new one from Boma

Plants still growing some better than others

Pickerel Hyacinth from B+Q,  good buy, performing well

Bulrush (typha angustifolia) from B+Q good buy, performing well

Stachys byzantia Boma (good buy, performing well)

Iris Sugar Blues and either Best Bet or Mystique (not sure which plant I have (see Purple Flowers)

Roses: Young Lycidas (tall, many flowers), Indian Summer (hybrid tea rose, extremely small 1 flower per year only) from Clifton Nurseries

Eryngium Jos Eijking - not performing very well

Syringa Vulgaris Katherine Havemeyer - didn't bloom first few years, then had only 2 flowers, then I pruned it and bloomed well the next year and bloomed well again this year

Cirsium rivulare Atropurpureum - great, blooms twice during the spring/summer/autumn, still had flowers towards the end of the year, - update few years later - they are totally gone

Cynara cardunculus Scolymus - grew great the first couple years, now going downhill, did not look at all good last year.

Ceanothus: Puget Blue, Italian Skies, Skylark and another (must find the label): all doing well

Goat Willow (pussy willow) from Buckingham Nurseries - doing well

Veronica Royal Candles just bought from Camden Garden Centre 6-2013

Veronica Ulster Blue Dwarf just bought from Camden Garden Centre 6-2013

Trachelospermum (star jasmine) this was by the front railings and passers-by pulled off every flower last year so I moved it and it is not looking good. I don't know if it will ever recover.


Salvia Mystic Spires - this was fantastic the first year, still bloomed the next year then it died. I don't actually  know if it's an annual or perennial so I can't say it's a "failure" until I find out.


Landlife Wildflowers - ok seeds, some grew, some didn't

Bulbs - to be updated

Bloms outdoor bulbs 2009

Tulip Paul Scheerer

Tulip Rococo - good

Tulip Silver Parrot - good

Tulip Rai - no resemblence to the photo!

Living Colour outdoor bulbs 2009

Ranunculus Aviv Orange - nice

Ranunculus Aviv Rose - hardly had any in bloom

Professor Rontgen - good, loved them

Allium Hair - 1 bloom ? (out of 20 bulbs)

Tulip Carnival de Nice hard to say as I planted them too much in shade

Allium Christophi - can't even remember them so weren't very memorable and I didn't take any pics

Living Colour outdoor bulbs 2011

Ranunculus Aviv Orange

Parkers 2011

Tulip Silver Parrot

Tulip Professor Rontgen

Peter Nyssen 2011

Narcissus Tete-a-Tete

Ranunculus Aviv Rose

Tulip Estella Rynveld

Tulip Orange Favourite


Vitax Slug Off - I really like this but when I tried to buy more it proved impossible to find again