Sunday 15 September 2019

Sweetly scented stocks are increasing their share

GARDENING GERRY DALY IF YOU like sweetly scented flowers then you will love stock - that is, if you do not know it already. This flower was once much more commonly grown than it is now, but happy to say it is making quite a comeback in recent years.

It is in flower now and will continue for some time, and there are other forms that flower later in the summer.

Stock, or Brompton stock as it is also known, is a close relative of the wallflower, though with a completely different colour palette.

The wallflower has lots of reds and yellows while the stock has pink and purple in a variety of shades, lots of white to make a good contrast, and there are some creamy yellows too.

The name Brompton stock applies only to one kind of stock, a vigorous double-flowered tall form, which was so popular at one time that its name attached to any double-flowered stock.

Stocks similar to this kind are grown commercially as a florist's cut flower with very tall erect stems, and the garden kinds also can be cut for indoor use, filling the house with scent.

Like the wallflower, stock is sweetly scented but it is a different scent, more spicy. It is so strongly scented that it can waft for many metres and fill a whole garden on a warm day.

Stock is used as a spring bedding flower, planted out in the autumn.

It has good towers of flower in some varieties and others are more compact. It can be used in containers too.

Although usually discarded after flowering, the plant is actually a woody-based perennial and can last for several years, but often gets top-heavy and is rocked and damaged by wind. This longer life means that stocks can be grown as small groups of plants in a border, or even as single plants.

They are good for filling space while more permanent shrubs and flowers develop. The seeds are sold as colour mixtures but some varieties are also offered as single colours.

While most varieties have puffy double flowers, some are single-flowered with four simple petals in a cross-shape. These sometimes pop up in a seed mixture.

Stocks for spring and early summer flowering are sown from seeds in mid-summer and planted out in late autumn. But there are quick-developing kinds that can be sown in spring for summer flowering - one kind is called Ten-week Stock. The night-scented stock is a different species which makes a loose, spreading plant with lots of loose flower spikes and a most delightful scent, especially in the evening. The pale flowers attract moths as pollinators.

This kind is not as good in terms of colour or appearance and it is principally grown for its fragrance. It can be sown in spring, directly where it is to flower, and repeat batches can be sown even into May.

Stocks of all kinds are easy to grow in fertile soil in full sunshine.

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