Flower School.

Half Hardy Annuals. #5 — Higgledy Garden

Sunflower ‘Earthwalker’

In the last Higgledy lecture we wrapped our flowery heads around the topic of Hardy Annuals. It was psychological. I advise you to get yourselves up and have a peek at the prior 17, when you have just joined us might. There may well be a surprise test…points can be deducted…nobody said this was definitely going to be easy.


‘Higgers you handsome hunk…what is the difference between a hardy and a half-hardy annual?’

In simple terms…hardy annuals can deal with freezing weather…and so their seeds can be sown in autumn as well as spring. Half-hardy annuals will keel over if they so much as look at a frost.

The annoying thing about Half-Hardy annuals is they’re also able to require a lengthy season to blossom. If you consider they’re generally native to places closer to the equator…they haven’t got seasons to get worried about…so they simply hang around in sunlight, smoking cigars and drinking Tequila until this time as they feel like flowering.

To combat this we have to sow them ancient. I sow mine in pots. I plant these seedlings outside from May. They flower from July…and right through until Halloween-ish if the weather is mild.

Nicotiana. Thx Rosie, for the pic.


‘Higgers, lion of dinosaurs, King of Kings…Half-Hardy annuals (HHA) sound a bit faffy…are they worth all of the faff?’

HHA aren’t always faffy…that there is a little work sowing up the strands…but even then, ‘perform’ is the incorrect word…it’s nothing short of a joy my beloved. HHA also provide us flamboyant blooms….often less numerous as their hardy brothers and sisters, but that just means we use them sparingly. Some HHA are blossom making maniacs…for example, my old buddy, Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’ is now a remarkably prolific fellow….and nobody might dare call him ‘faffy’!


‘After my husband died in a freak golf buggy injury (that my lawyers are convinced I will be acquitted for), I was able to dig his own vegetable garden to use for a cut flower patch. Can you recommend a few HHA to plant there? Would you have time to come over to help me?

Here are my Top Seven Half.

Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’

*Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’. I’ve previously mentioned this chap after…here he is. Handsome, trustworthy and very cheery. I have not ever been in a patch that was cutting edge without ‘Marmalade’. Some people just loath yellow flowers…I think there was a motion against them in the 1970’s…it’s time to get over it.

Cosmos ‘Fizzy Rose’

*Cosmos ‘Fizzy Rose’. ‘Fizzy Rose’ is the brand new Shelia in the city. Everyone who climbed her year loved her. In the beginning, I thought she might be a tiny flouncy sour…however, not so…I’m not going to indicate she is ‘elegant’…like ‘Albatros’ (AKA ‘Purity’) however she is a chirpy lass and we LOVE her!

Tithonia vase

Tithonia (Red)

*Tithonia ‘Torch’. This Tithonia is a gem. The lovely Constance Craig-Smith increases a lot of this (Nicely….she includes a fantastic seed provider…) Tithonia just like a rich soil. Be mindful of the hollow and fragile stalks.

Thank you to the Kerry Skinner for allowing me to talk about her pic of ‘Violet Queen’.

*Cleome ‘Violet Queen’. This flower has become a modern classic…. A bit as the Ford Capri. The seeds may be a bit erratic to germinate…give them lots of time and keep them moist (not waterlogged) She has thorns….oh what a minx! #NaughtyViolet

*Sunflower ‘Earthwalker’. Lots of seed companies will tell you the sunflowers are Hardy…well…sometimes they will make it during a chilly although not often. ‘Earthwalker’ has chocolate, strawberry and bronze flowers on branching stems. The largest of flowers are much smaller and easier to use in arrangements. I generally do not grow sunflowers for the blossoms…I just enjoy them loitering in the area. They are good for a bit of banter and are frequently read , and up on current affairs.

Rosie takes pics of her flowers. I can not swear this is from my Nicotiana ‘Sensation mix’…but it easily could be.

*Nicotiana ‘Sensation’. I had the best year for Nicotiana. I been on the telly and should have won awards. Nicotiana are amazing creatures. I grow three varieties….but this season ‘Sensation’ won me over.

These fine Asters were grown by Helen Bond. #TopMarks

*Aster ‘Ostrich Plume’. As soon as I asked my flowery Facebook chums what their fav HHA were, Aster ‘Ostrich Plume’ was mentioned a couple times by many. Mine were a bit wimpy this year but I find other folks did better…. .grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Tanja Pickrell’s, Zinnias…not ‘Mammoth’…but rather splendid!

*Zinnia ‘Mammoth’. Zinnia are Marmite flowers…not for everyone…I love their awkward and unique ways. ‘Mammoth’ are usually the very useful in the patch that is leading. Loads of blossoms and a variety. Maintain the mattress moist and comfortable for a fantastic harvest.


Hi Higgers (Bloody good bloke), I’m a bloke also, and sit securely into that 4% of your clients that are additionally blokes. Why don’t more alpha blokes just like me and youpersonally, grow Half Hardy Annuals? PS Fancy a beer? …I’ve got a beard.

Good question. Even it can be challenging for blokes to acknowledge watching beauty in flowers and discovering pleasure. In one way it’s a terrific shame that more blokes do not have cut flower patches…but on the plus side…96% of my clients are women. #HappyDays

Thanks to the Facebookies for giving their advice and tips.

Kind regards

Higgers & Flash

Warbles in this series:

Flash, being a blokey bloke.