Things are gearing up here at Seven Seeds and Flora Farms after a restful winter’s retreat. I’ve begun to seed the first of what’s known as “cool season annuals” for transplanting out in the next month or two. There are a surprising number of plants that can get started in the greenhouse this time of year; and what’s even more mind-bending for us gardeners who associate flowers with summer, is that they really like to get planted out when it’s still pretty darn cold outside.


So who are these hardy characters? You’ll recognize a few:

  • poppies of all types (breadseed, shirley, Iceland)
  • calendula
  • bachelor’s button
  • dill
  • sweet peas

Small poppy seeds are easier to track when planted in flats, but I do find that poppies don’t really enjoy getting transplanted (starting them in soil blocks reduces the potential of root stress).



Then, there are a few lesser-known-but-equally-tough flowering plants:

  • cerinthe
  • orlaya
  • clarkia

    With each of these species, I start them in trays in an unheated greenhouse. These are all critical floral spikes, focal flowers, filler and foliage for the May and June wedding arrangements I design.


    A few more thoughts that you might want to tuck away for future reference: there are other cool season annuals that I direct seeded into the garden in early fall because they always sprout well that time of year outside and prefer not to be transplanted. These species include larkspur and nigella. I also planted and am overwintering an earlier wave of calendula, sweet peas, carnations and stock.


    In addition to the cool season annuals I seed lots of biennials in the fall to overwinter and flower in the spring—plants like foxglove, campanula, sweet williams, and dame’s rocket.


    When it comes to spring, most of us are wowed by the flowering bulbs. Tulips, daffodils, anemones and ranunculus are truly spectacular, but in order to make flower bouquets that truly stand out, it’s all of these other species that round out the chorus. Maybe these planting tips will help you to see beyond the soloists and you’ll be inspired to plant some new cool season flowers in your garden this year!