The species Gentian Sage
Variety Salvia Patens [Oxford and Cambridge Blue ]
This sage variety was discovered in Guadalajara, Central Mexico in 1838 by plant hunters and popularised a hundred years later by the Irish botanist William Robinson.
It’s a gardener’s delight, not only because of its vibrant colours , but maintenance is minimal. The plant is perennial half hardy and drought-resistant. It requires minimal watering and feeding and is resistant to most pests and diseases. Mine have flourished in the same compost and tubs for years with the occasional very dilute feed of tomato fertiliser.
When the weather gets cold I cut the leaves off and bring the tuber into an unheated greenhouse for the winter.
It is easy to collect seed and all my friends have successfully grown these beautiful plants, photographs of which seldom reflect their glorious colour.
Beefsteak Heirloom Tomatoes
‘Sioux’ was developed by the University of Nebraska from seeds grown by the Sioux Indians. They don’t genetically modify them but grow the seeds in the best possible conditions to produce the strongest issue.
This pre-1890 Cherokee heirloom called ‘Cherokee Purple’ has superb old fashioned flavour. A purple pink coloured Beefsteak with red flesh and sweet taste.
One of the most fascinating things about growing heirlooms is the story of their origins. I already have next year’s seeds as I believe there may be a shortage. Amongst the varieties are, ‘Hillbilly’, ‘Mr Stripey’, ‘Amish Paste’, ‘Black Krim’, ‘Kelloggs Breakfast’, ‘Omar’s Lebanese’, ‘Carbon’, and ‘Bear Claw’. Another variety has an interesting background to its name. It was bred by an American and the seeds became so much in demand that this ordinary gardener was able to pay off his mortgage with the proceeds of his seed sales. Understandably he called the variety ‘Mortgage Lifter’!
Syrian Giant Stuffer Tomato
from seeds brought out of Aleppo
My six seeds all germinated. I kept one and gave the five others to friends.
They have all been outside for some time and are growing well.
Delighted to give away over one hundred and fifty Heritage tomato plants, many to my son’s colleagues at Dorchester Hospital.
Have just planted out some quite rare heritage plants that I have not grown before: Black Krim; Paul Robeson; Black Mountain Pink; Austins Red Pear; and Brandywine Orange.
Gardening with new varieties is so much about anticipation!
Does a Gardener Ever Retire?
David Downton writes about his new found interest in growing Heritage Tomatoes
Click on the ‘Heritage Tomatoes’ link above to download the article as a pdf.
Groves mentioned in The Sunday Times 19 April 2020