Sycamore seedlings

It’s the time of year when sycamore seedlings start springing up seemingly everywhere.  Their long and narrow seed leaves look nothing like the broad, lobed leaves of the adult trees. And, unless the old “helicopter” that the seed fell to earth with is still attached, you might wonder what these vibrant narrow-leaved seedlings are.

Sycamore seedlings
Sycamore seedlings

Sycamores (Acer pseudoplatanus) are one of those trees which fall into, out of and back into favour with the passing of time.  They are classed as “non-native”, but they’ve been in the UK for hundreds of years. They’ve been classed as “invasive” but scholars and observers dispute whether they really are.  They’ve been planted for shelter and then pulled up because they’re “not natural”, only to be replanted a few years later with the aid of grants. One thing’s for sure: sycamores seed prolifically! If you want to propagate them, that makes it especially easy: just pop the seed or a seedling in a pot. But if you don’t want them sprouting up in every nook and cranny, it’s easiest to pull them out now, while they’re tiny. Last year, there were reports of ponies being poisoned after eating large quantities of sycamore seeds. So, if you keep horses you might want to be mindful of that.

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Lavender from seed – update at nearly four months

It’s taken almost four months, but the plants grown from seed sown in February are now more or less the same size as a micro-module would be at purchase.

This is the same seedling that I've followed all the way through.
This is the same seedling that I’ve followed all the way through.
These are the micro-module (cuttings) that we used to establish a field plot of lavender.
These are the micro-modules (cuttings) that we used to establish a field plot of lavender.

The verdict:

The lavender seeds germinated and emerged very well – and much more quickly than I expected, almost all had emerged within 14 days of sowing.

They grew very slowly – but they weren’t mollycoddled and were outside in very harsh conditions. Definitely not the ideal way to grow them, and it probably set the seedlings back by six weeks to two months.

The blackbirds loved them – they uprooted lots of the seedlings: just pulling them up for fun (same with some lavender cuttings I had growing at the same time).

The slugs loved them.  I planted a lot of seedlings out in a patch in the garden, thinking it would save me bother and produce stronger plants. But the slugs really went for them and I ended up digging the least damaged back up and putting them back in pots. So much for that being labour saving:)

The real proof of whether growing lavender from seed has been a success will only be seen over the next few years. Then I’ll be able to see what the adult plants actually look like and how they perform.

So far, I’d say if you’re not in a hurry and have the time to look after the plants, growing lavender from seeds is really easy. But, if you want a quick result and guaranteed consistency in the appearance of the plants, buying (or taking) cuttings is a better bet.

This was the post showing how things looked like seven weeks after sowing.

And here are a couple of the plants now, four years later (May 2017).

25072017lavender_s
Lavender (Munstead) sown as seed four years ago just coming into flower, May 2017 (how time flies!)

, just coming into flower.

 

Lovage – Levisticum officinale

The lovage seeds sown on 27th February have grown into sturdy young plants. Today, they were planted out into their final positions.

Cotyledon stage - 19th March (20 days after sowing).
Cotyledon stage – 19th March (20 days after sowing).

Lovage ready for planting out (109 days after sowing)
Lovage ready for planting out (109 days after sowing)lovage roots

 

Most guidelines say that the seed is difficult to germinate if not sown in the autumn it was formed: this wasn’t my experience – I had 100% germination and emergence from this late February sowing.

Lovage is a tall, herbaceous perennial: it needs plenty of space, but will reward you year after year with a plentiful supply of celery-ish flavoured leaves. Because it will die down over winter, leaves need to be harvested and dried or frozen for year-round use.