Phill Vaughan-Williams writes about a new concept “Seed and Feed”

The gardening year, for us at least, starts towards the end of the summer, as we start to collect and store seeds from the myriad of flowers and plants that we choose to grow. Year on year, favourites feature heavily, some inherited from my grandparents, as well as those that we have collected through the years from friends, and through trying ‘a little something new’ from seed catalogues to keep our planting ever changing and interesting.

As a general rule, the autumn months in the garden are kept busy with pruning, mulching and getting the garden ready to over winter. Seeds don’t generally feature again for us until Christmas moves into the New Year and our attention is turned to the seductive seed catalogues that arrive in the post, and the swapping of seeds with friends in readiness for spring planting. This year, however, we were very much thinking about seeds much earlier, in the lead up to the festive season.

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Last year, we grew a number of different varieties of sunflower, some new to us and all much enjoyed. Their impressive size and colour fed our imagination, as the nights drew in and we started craving the summer ahead. Which, of course, we hope will be warm, sunny and long, filled with colour and quality time with family and friends.  Packaging up a number of the hand-collected sunflower seeds to become a part of a Christmas gift seemed to be a sure way of ensuring this hope becomes a reality.

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Our ‘Seed & Feed’ packets contain seeds collected from our tallest sunflowers. The packet label details how to grow the seeds and also serves to be an invite; to join us in our garden, when it is at its most colourful.  In the darkness of winter, we hope that our gift of seeds, and an afternoon of sunshine, will bring a sense of optimism and excitement about being together in the summer. With our instructions there is also a hashtag, so we can all interact online as the seeds germinate and grow in the lead up to a garden party and feast of home grown treats!

With the invite out for our ‘Seed & Feed’ competition and garden party, it looks like some of the ingredients for a fantastic summer are in place; all we have to do now is keep our fingers crossed that the British summer will be conducive for growing a spectacular garden and hosting a home grown feast. Judging from the recent reports of 2014 being the warmest year on record, our hopes for good weather, plentiful flowers and great times are high!

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Gardening in Mid and East Suffolk, Phill tweets as @suffolkboi about his garden, allotment and his ‘good life’ !

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