Scabiosa atropurpurea 'Beaujolais Bonnets' - sweet scabious

Some might say I am easily excited.  They’re right.  But I can’t hold back on this one.

I may have said before that I am very partial to a seed catalogue.  The JParkers Dutch Bulb catalogue caused quite a stir a few weeks ago.  Sarah Raven catalogues can be relied upon to titillate, though it is diluted with lifestyle products, and I like my flower porn to be au naturel.  On Wednesday my cup runneth over.  The snow had led to a backlog of catalogues, and not one but two glossy booklets arrived at once.  the David Austin Handbook of Roses and the new Chiltern Seeds Spring Brochure.

Now the DA Handbook can be relied upon for deep pleasure, and I was not disappointed.  There are pages of sumptuous roses in mixed borders, pots, hedges…

But the Chiltern Seeds Spring Brochure takes things to a new level.  We are talking multiple flowergasm.  I suggest you open a new tab for the brochure and I’ll take you through this.

Let’s just linger on the cover a moment.  Papaver rhoeas ‘Pandora’.  The name is a warning.  She is like homemade berry coulis swirled in thick cream.

Open it.  Inside cover: Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Velouette’.  That means ‘soft’.  Silken.  This one reminds me of a designer meringue piped with blackcurrant.

Now I have your interest, turn over to the zinnia page.  Glory be.  We have a whole coral reef of zinnias to swim amongst!  As if ‘Queen Red Lime’ weren’t enough of a tickle, now we have ‘Queen Lime with Blotch’.  ‘Zinderella Lilac’ and ‘Zinderella Peach’.  Look at their pillowy mounds!

Ombré is my favourite new word.  It was taught to me by my daughters, and now I can’t stop using it.  It is ‘the gradual blending of one color hue to another, usually moving tints and shades from light to dark’ (Wikipedia).

Look at the ombré on ‘Zinderella Peach’!  Tingles up my spine!

Or the spiny ‘Mazurka’ with its deepest shadows!

Now turn to page 9, ‘Vibrant Vases’.  We’re taking a bit of a breather here and cooling down, but look at that vase with the Helianthus ‘Valentine’, with white and blue borage, Cosmos ‘Purity’ and white snapdragons!  As if that weren’t enough, there is pastel perfection on the facing page with ammi, soft pink and lilac scabious and peachy snapdragons.

We’re going to have to skip a few pages now.  Go to p.16, ‘Super Scabious’.  The Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Beaujolais Bonnets’ is the image at the header of this post.  It is like a wine-stain spreading across crisp table linen.  Picture credits throughout go to the goddess at Chiltern Seeds, Sabina Ruber.  Sabina, I fall at your feet.  Now linger awhile on ‘Fats Morgana’ with its petals the colour of sun-warmed peach flesh.

Then, another excuse to use the word ombré on the next double-spread, with a casual scattering of snapdragons,  Antirrhinum majus ‘Rust Resistant Giant’ Mixed.  Ok, that wasn’t very sexy, but look at the picture to get you back in the mood.  Depths of cherry and plum, seeping into raspberry and peach, just the hint of creamy white and palest green.

Now for the shock of the new.  Flick through to page 24.  See it?  That stalwart, Calendula officianalis ‘Indian Prince’.  See him?  Look at him now!  Reimagined with a deep olive backdrop to set off his mahogany and blood-orange stripes!

On pages 28-29 we have a vampish look.  Nigella ‘African Bride’ (name makes me cringe) stands out like a killer virus.  Or false eyelashes.

Then we have a ‘Farrow and Ball’ couple of pages with National Trust greens.  We finish with softest apricots.  I want to fondle Calendula ‘Touch of Red Buff’ and poke my finger into Digitalis ‘Dalmation Peach’.

Is it the soft light?  The close-ups?  The textures? The angles?  Probably all of these and a touch of Je ne sais quoi.  The colour-themed pages are delicious.  This is the undisputed queen of the seed catalogues, 2018.

I hesitate before I publish.  Am I sharing lewd images?  I take no responsibility if readers become overtaken by wild urges to sow seed as the result of this post.


My aim on this site is to share the sense of wonder I get from gardening and being outdoors. 

If you would like to join the joy, click on the ‘Follow’ button at the end of this post. You will receive an email each time I post a little pop of wonder. 

33 Comments Add yours

  1. Honestly, I don’t even dare click on the link; I’ve already overspent my seed budget 5 times over this year! And here you are, sending more temptation my way…and the David Austin catalog just arrived here as well. Sigh. In all seriousness, loved the descriptions and that Scabiosa is delicious looking.

    1. Ali says:

      We can attend the seedaholic meetings together!

  2. bcparkison says:

    Oh my how beautiful. A true english garden of my dreams. Thanks for sharing the cats.

    1. Ali says:

      It’s a pleasure! Enjoy!

  3. Oh wow, pictures like that make me think that even I could grow a gardenful of perfect blooms! Also – “scabious”? Much prettier than the name suggests!

    1. Ali says:

      I know! Common name is ‘Pincushion flower’. Much nicer!

  4. MusingintheMeadows says:

    Too funny!! I will have to check out these catalogues. I am in the market for some more roses anyway..

    1. Ali says:

      The David Austin handbook will not disappoint! If you want any recommendations for particular colours/types/situation, give me a shout!

      1. MusingintheMeadows says:

        I am looking for a more compact variety which may do well in a slightly shadier spot. Would love to hear your suggestions!

      2. Ali says:

        Right. Here we go. A nice pale pink upright one is ‘Queen of Sweden’; lovely incurved cups. ‘Olivia Rose’ is also pink, but with a touch of lilac. ‘Harlow Carr’ has smaller flowers, very floriferous, mid-pink. ‘England’s Rose’ is wonderful – glowing pink, never without flowers. ‘Thomas a Beckett’ is a deeper pink, with sprays of arching flowers. ‘Lady of Shallott’ is a warm orange and smells of apple strudel. ‘Roald Dahl’ is peachy, ‘Buttercup’ as you would expect. Both have light, open, airy flowers.

      3. MusingintheMeadows says:

        Great, thanks for these! I’m thinking “Lady Shallott” or “Roald Dahl”.. Will let you know! 😀

  5. restlessjo says:

    I really oughtn’t to look but I do love your enthusiasm. Over excitement comes to me quite naturally too. 🙂 🙂

    1. Ali says:


  6. TanGental says:

    My Mother had the same relationship with the Suttons seed catalogue in the 197os. It was a huge expense for my parents to fund their seed addiction and like you she should probably have joined Seeds Annonymous – ‘My name is Babara and it is 27 days since I bought frost hardy Delightful Blush…’

    1. Ali says:

      Ah, bless. It is one of the healthier addictions.

  7. gaiainaction says:

    What a pleasure when even the words sound beautiful!

    1. Ali says:

      This makes me very happy. Thank you!

      1. gaiainaction says:

        A pleasure Ali, makes me happy too 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      The birds say yes, though I would like a tiny bit of sunshine to confirm it!

  8. thefolia says:

    Happy sowing and of course happy harvesting!

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you! I will enjoy every step!

  9. Heyjude says:

    OMG! I shall stay away from the seed catalogue as I am not having much success sowing seeds. Just lost a tray of sweet peas (too wet). But reading this post has whetted my appetite for colour!! I grew Calendula officianalis ‘Indian Prince’last year and it is a very handsome plant. I hope it does me the honour of self-seeding. Maybe a little look….

    1. Ali says:

      This is the catalogue that has tempted me away from SR!!

      1. Heyjude says:

        Maybe a little peep won’t harm.

  10. MartinKef says:

    Hi All im noob here. Good post! Thx! Thx!

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