I should be enjoying a fine display of wallflowers at the moment, because last September I planted out two dozen nice tall ones. One February morning (my birthday, as it happened) I pulled up the kitchen blind to see that during the night the deer, the horrors, had eaten every single one. It’s a good job I don’t have a gun. Luckily, they didn’t find the self-seeders, like this one.
When I first moved here, I sowed, grew on and planted out two of my favourites: ‘Blood Red’ and ‘Fire King’. Ever since, they have kept themselves going by seeding around; the one above is growing in a paving crack by the kitchen door.
A while ago I bought some wallflower plants from Sarah Raven. I think the variety is ‘Ivory Giant’. They were very expensive and one was a manky specimen which I should have complained about. Naturally, I didn’t want the money wasted, so I experimented with taking cuttings, not something I’d tried before with the biennial wallflowers. The first year, I only succeeded in keeping one plant that way. This year I’m up to three and I think they’re rather pretty, although ‘Giant’ is something of a misnomer. The background leaves are of Euphorbia mellifera.
I’ve grown a lot of different perennial wallflowers over the years but to my mind ‘Bowles’ Mauve’ is still the best, however pretty the others are.
It flowers almost non-stop throughout the year; flowers itself to death because it’s short lived and soon looks leggy. The plus side is that it’s very easy from cuttings, so you can replace your plants every other year, which is what I do. I used to grow it in striking contrast to the lime green flowers of Euphorbia characias. This plant is currently sharing a bed with the honesty shown below, and the flowers are almost the same colour. (The honesty flowers are darker than they look in this photo.)