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Forget Me Not

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      15.02.2012 18:25
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      Gorgeous little clumps of blue flowers

      Introduction
       
      I consider my garden to be a place for food production, and don't really put "the look" of the place high on my list of priorities.  If I want to give my eyes a sensual feast, I'll do a Google images search for Lily Allen.  However, I may wear the wellies at home but I certainly don't wear the trousers so I have to relent and provide splashes of colour amongst the predominantly green fruit and veg in the form of flowers to appease Mrs Dablue, who, in her own words "doesn't want to look outside the back door and see nothing but cabbages - it's like living in a flaming allotment" (but is quite happy to eat those cabbages!).
       
      With Forget Me Nots, I've found a plant that I don't just tolerate for the sake of a quiet life, but actually cherish and am very protective about and emotionally attached to.  I even talk to them sometimes when I'm sure that the neighbours aren't outside in their back gardens too.  You might be wondering if Dablue has gone soft and come over all Prince Charles-ish.  The special tub of Forget Me Nots that I have in the back yard came from three plants that I lifted from my Grandad's garden on the day his ashes were buried with my Grandma in Worsley, Manchester.  It was the last time I've ever been to his house; we all went round as a family after the ceremony to say goodbye to the house where my Grandma and Grandad had lovingly kept all sorts of plants in their front and rear gardens.  I carefully pulled out three of the very aptly named Forget Me Nots from one of the front borders, placed them in a carrier bag with a splash of water and drove home.  With crossed fingers, I planted them straight out, and for the next week or so was on pins as I watched for signs that they would take and continue to grow.
       
      They did survive, and now thanks to their prolific self seeding, (I'll explain later on about this) three years later I have about twenty plants crammed into the one large pot that reward me with a living memory of my Grandparents every spring and sometimes autumn too in the form of a compact riot of delicate miniature stumps of a pastel blue so strong they seem to glow in the right light.  Call me sentimentally soppy, but I don't mind.  I've fallen in love with Forget Me Nots, even though they're not as useful as cabbages and strawberries are!
       
      Background
       
      Latin name Myosotis sylvatica, Forget Me Nots (FMNs) are in the Boraginaceae family, along with borage and comfrey, although to my knowledge you can't eat FMNs like you can with borage and comfrey.  The latin name Myosotis comes from a greek phrase meaning mouse's ear - if you look at the leaves you will see why, they are even covered in small hairs!  The sylvatica type is commonly known as the "wood FMN" and is the most common type of FMN found in the UK, although about 50 other types are known to exist around the world.
       
      Growing your own
       
      You can grow from seed, or propagate by dividing existing clumps of plants, as I did from my Grandparents' garden.  To grow from seed, sow thinly in shallow drills after the frosts have passed and cover with a couple of millimetres of soil.  They prefer well draining rich compost and can tolerate both full sun and some shade.  You're not likely to get flowers in the first year of their growth, but your reward will come the next year by the tiny flowers that will thank you for your patience.  FMNs are perennial, meaning that they will return year after year.  We've had some pretty hard frosts the last few years and my FMNs haven't been affected; I still get a flush of the gorgeous little blue flowers the next spring.
       
      To propagate by the division of existing clumps, carefully lift some already established plants from a kind hearted neighbour and ease the roots apart, then dig holes that are big enough to allow the base of the plant to sit at the same level it was at in its previous position.  Fill this hole with water, let that soak away, then fill it again and pop the plant into it, gently firming it down into its new position.
       
      They are champion self seeders too - that's how my plants have grown from the initial three I lifted from my Grandparents' garden to a family of about twenty.  For those that don't know, self seeding is when the flowers on the plant have died and turned into seeds - these seeds drop off onto the soil and if the conditions are right will germinate and grow into new plants.  For this reason, you may want to be selective about where you plant them or after a few years they will take over any unused space and possibly crowd out other plants - I restrict the spread of mine by keeping them in just the one large pot.
       
      I help the self seeding process along by waiting until the seed pods have formed on the stalks then I gently brush my hand through them to release the seeds onto the surrounding soil - my patch of FMNs has responded very well to this treatment.  If you don't want the plants to self seed, then remove or "dead head" the flowers as they start to die off before they turn into seed pods.  Don't throw any dead heads with seeds in them onto your compost heap though as you'll spread them all round your garden!
       
      Established plants (more than one year old) will flower all the way through spring, although if we have mild autumns they will produce a second flush of flowers for you to enjoy in mid September to October.
       
      Diseases / Pests
       
      There are no specific diseases or pests that target FMNs, but as they are a living thing they will attract some insects and their larvae as a potential food source - things like greenfly, but these are easily dealt with.  Attract ladybirds to your garden by building a "hotel" out of a bundle of thin twigs tightly bound together and they will happily munch their way through hundreds of greenfly for you.  Other generic problems like rot are easily avoided by not overwatering your plants and having a good amount of grit in the soil to allow for drainage.
       
      Uses for Forget Me Nots
       
      They have a few different sentiments attached to them, and are gratefully received by most you'll give them to.  They make beautiful little posies for a loved one before a period of separation (I spend long amounts of time away from home with work and find that they convey their message, "Forget Me Not" quite well on those occasions when I've popped outside and picked some for my wife and daughters) and, in the way that I have an emotional attachment to them, they can be used to remember special people who are no longer with us.  If you're not into picking the flowering stalks to make posies with though, just leave them be and enjoy their beauty in your garden.
       
      Summary
       
      A very attractive, delicately small but huge in its appeal plant that will thrive in most gardens, FMNs are very easy to maintain and if given the space, will spread their blue flowers throughout your garden.  I know they're only a plant, but I'm very fond of mine because of their connection to my Grandparents and hope that someone else after reading this review will "discover" FMNs and get the same joy from theirs as I do from mine.  Right, I've been far too emotionally revealing in this review, I'm going to go and write a nasty one now that scathes something made by Lush, like a fruity fizzing bath hand grenade, or whatever it is they're called.  Gggrrrrrr.  Enjoy your garden.

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        24.05.2010 12:06
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        A perfect plant for lazy gardeners like me!

        A year ago I completed my City and Guilds Gardening qualification, which in theory should mean I have a garden to rival Kew, but unfortunately that simply is not true. Our garden has become a football pitch, campsite, cycle park, or whatever else the kids deem it to be, and that means keeping it pretty is a tough job.


        My approach to gardening is quite a lazy one. I like plants that I can bung in the border and forget about, so we have quite a few shrubs and perennial plants, those that come up year after year. A big problem I have however, is getting anything to flower. As soon as something hits the border, it puts out lots of leaves and no flowers. I was desperate for colour! Then my nan gave me some seeds....


        My nan has a fabulous garden, and has engineered it so that it pretty much looks after itself. Every year, swathes of beautiful blue flowers grace the borders. She explained to me that from a couple of original forget me not plants, they had seeded themselves year after year, eventually filling the whole garden. Definitely my kind of plant, methinks. She gave me some seeds and I chucked them in the border, not really thinking they stood a chance of growing in such hostile territory.


        Imagine my surprise a few weeks ago, when forget me not plants started popping up all over the place? My usually boring borders were bathed in pale blue flowers, and the bees and insects were loving it. My garden had gone from plain, to cottage garden in one fell swoop, and with very little effort. Result!


        Forget me nots flower from April to June. They are useful as bedding or cut flowers. In the springtime, they look lovely when contrasted with yellow flowers, such as tulips, poppies, wallflowers or primulas. They are extremely easy to grow, as I discovered. Simply throw the seeds in your border and nature will do the rest. Apparently these plants can become a nuisance and get everywhere, so it is a good idea to consider this before you plant.


        They are also very resilient and easy to care for, which suits me. They would suit anyone who wants a splash of colour but has little time to devote to gardening and maintaining plants. There are many different varieties, all originating from the original parent plant, Myosotis.


        They are excellent for attracting wildlife into your garden, and I have seen a lot more bees about since they started to flower. I like to do what I can to encourage wildlife, particularly bees, as they aren't doing so well lately.


        Forget me nots are widely available in garden centres in either seed or plant form. Sow the seed in summer for a beautiful display the following year. If it is cold in the winter, you may need to overwinter the plants in a cold frame, but in my opinion, they are pretty tough and will handle extremes in weather quite well.


        Now I can spend more time enjoying my garden, and less time maintaining it!

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          14.06.2001 02:35
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          I love this time of year when you go in the garden and see all the plants that have self seeded.Pansies, violas and forget-me-nots are very good self sowers but the quality of the plants will deteriorate after a few years,so you will have to start again with new stock. The poached egg plant[limnanthes douglasii] is another flower which reproduces its self. Clumps of low growing yellow and white blooms can easily be transplanted into tubs. Ladys mantle seeds its self with large clusters of tiny lime green flowers giving a long lasting display. Hardy annuals which readily sow themselves include pot marigolds,nasturtiums,poppies[my very favorite] and candytuft most grow into much stronger plants than those you have sown yourself.

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            13.06.2001 16:52
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            I bought just three forget-me-not plants about six years ago. They flowered beautifully and looked good in my front garden. I planted them fairly close together to get the benefit of a clump of blue flowers rather than have then spread out. These are very hardy little plants and they have survived frozen winters in 'far north' without any sign of damage. After all these years these pretty little blue flowers have become a real nuisance. They dry out at the end of summer and if you don't catch them quickly enough they seed themselves absolutely anywhere and everywhere. The seeds are particularly light so they do travel a long way from the plants. I now have a problem with them growing in my stone chippings in my front garden. I've pulled lots of them out but they aren't detered. There are always new ones to follow on. I've weedkillered the whole area which is something I don't like doing but the pesky things still come up. If you are going to plant these pretty flowers then make sure you dig them up before they seed themselves. They will keepcoming each year if you leave them but your garden will be full of their off spring too. This is great in some areas but there are others where you don't want them.

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              10.06.2001 01:04
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              • "drowns out other plants"

              While I will admit that there is little to match the beauty of a patch of forget-me-nots, in my opinion they self seed to enthusiasistically for most borders/small gardens. I introduced a very small clump to my garden 3 years ago - I'm still trying to control it. It has travelled so far it must have a driving licence. Another problem is the seeds - they germinate within a very short time of being sown [when self seeded] so they tend to drown out any other plants, nearby, come Spring. I must admit though that planted with bluebells against a backdrop of New Zealand flax [bronze] it looks beautiful. Just make sure you have the room or the patience to let it rip.

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                07.06.2001 04:18
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                • "this is not a problem"

                Forget-me-not, or Myosotis is a flower that is often underrated... taken for granted. In my area, it grows wild, and is so tolerant that it is easy to think of it as a weed. My mother-in-law allows it to grow in the border wherever it self-seeds, because it is attractive and non-invasive. But she does not regard it as being a 'real' garden flower, and this attitude seems to be a popular one, at least as far as I have found. I too have allowed the plant to grow wild, removing it from borders when it becomes straggly. At this point it is still full of the tiny blue flowers with their yellow star centres, but I like to see compact plants, and the wild variety does become a little untidy. However, I have recently discovered three things. The first is that, with the minimum of care, this plant can be improved dramatically, and that cultivated varieties are easy to grow from seed; bearing larger flowers on stronger, more compact, bushy plants. The second thing is that if planted in mass, they produce a carpet of beautiful blue through the late spring. Put them around red tulip bulbs, and the effect is quite dramatic, as the tulips flower above the heads of the blue sea of forget-me-nots! Leave them to die down, and they will self seed for next year, and many years to come. Alternatively, try them between wallfowers, and again, they will form a carpet under their taller companions. The third thing that I have discovered to great advantage, is that although the seed packets suggest a well-drained soil, they also appear to do well around the edge of my pond. Plants have self-seeded in the pots of other plants that sit in the shallow water, with their surfaces just above water level. This widens the use of the plant considerably, and offers the water gardener a plant that can share the pot of stonger, or later, marginal plants such as reeds or irises, or be put in its own pot. The top must be above the surface for the se
                ed to germinate - the higher the better - and the flowers offer a beautiful contrast to the yellows and whites that abound in a pond during the spring. Put them near golden yellow King Cups, and the yellow star centres will be enhanced. I have bought the species 'Ultramarine' for the depth of its blue colour, and its compact habit, to grow as border edging. Pink and white varieties also exist, but don't have the impact of the blue, although they are very pretty. As yet, I have only attempted to grow the wild variety with marginal pond plants. The seeds all germinate rapidly, and seedlings are easily transferred - do it on a cool day to prevent them flagging. The plants are shallow-rooted, and easily cleared at the end of their flowering time. They will not invade or choke other plants, although they spread into a bushlike plant. Best grown as a biennial initially, then allow to self-seed.

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                  17.04.2001 04:38
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                  Forget- me- not (Myosotis alpestris) really lives up to it's name. A biennial, plant one year, seed sown, sets and produces new plants the next year that will freely seed where ever you plant the first clump. Forget-me-nots traditionally have a blue flower but there is also a pink variety and in my garden, an almost white variety has developed on it's own. The plants have soft leaves and are quite bushy in appearance when established. The blue mass of flowers spike up over the leaves and can grow to a height of around 1'. They will tolerate any soil, any position but really prefer a well mulched free draining soil and will tolerate full sun. They are useful as an edging plant for herbaceous borders. They flower in late spring and will continue until mid summer when they produce seed heads that will scatter freely. To propogate, simply lift out the old plants and shake them to disperse the seeds where ever you wish new plants to grow. The old plants can be put on the compost heap and will rot down easily. The seedlings will establish themselves over winter. Once large enough, the seedlings can be transplanted to their flowering positions. Forget-me-nots do particularly well in tubs and can also be used in hanging baskets. They are a good plant to give to friends as they are so easy to grow.

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