Cutting Garden Review

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As another growing season draws to a close I thought it would be useful to have a look back at what I have grown in my Cutting Garden, before starting to plan my growing for next year. This has been my first full year with a dedicated Cutting Garden – last year I shared the space with my vegetables. It has been a lovely year for gardening and in the Cutting Garden there has always been something to cut. Some things went very well, some failed and there will be a lot of tweaking for next season whilst I search for that perfect combination of variety and continuity of flowers and foliage.

Starting back in January, throughout the winter and early spring I used flowers from the main garden and my greenhouse for my vases. The Winter Walk is at its best at this time with hellebores, snowdrops, iris, crocus and anemones in flower and there are plenty of narcissi to chose from naturalising under the trees around the garden.

Naturalised- Narcissus

Naturalised Narcissus

The Cutting Garden started to produce flowers back at the end of March with the first tulip Cilesta starting off the tulip season, which carried on throughout April and into early May. You can read all about my tulips in my review here, so I will not say much more about them. Next years tulips are in the process of being planted – I have added lots to my containers around the house for a beautiful spring display and a few to bulk up the borders close to the house. The remainder are being planted in the Cutting Garden, where I can enjoy their beauty safe from rabbits, chickens and trampling dogs. This year I have concentrated on adding lots of whites and pinks as I felt the balance was too much towards the oranges and darks last year. I am hoping that the bulbs I left in last spring will flower well again – if not I may find that it is the oranges and darks I am short of next year!

Tulip-Gander's-Rhapsody

Tulip Gander’s Rhapsody

May was a problem in the Cutting Garden, as after the tulips ended in early May I had a bit of a gap. I had failed to sow any biennials the previous year or any annuals to overwinter. As the tulips died back the beds were largely empty of flowers – the Cutting Garden was full of seedlings sown in the greenhouse in February and planted out in April, but these did not flower until June. Once again I was forced to look to my main borders for roses and perennials to fill my vases. I also had the first ranunculus of the year flowering in the greenhouse.

Ranunculus

Pink Ranunculus

In June things really started to improve. The peonies were in full flow and the hardy annuals sown in the greenhouse in February started to flower. I had ammi majus, dill, borage, cornflowers, gypsophila, scabious and nigella to choose from. I also had buckets of sweet peas flowering both in the greenhouse from early June and from the garden later in June. Sadly my garden sweet peas were infested with pollen beetles this year, so were unusable as a cut flower. They were the best sweet peas I have ever grown with very long stems and scented blooms, so that was quite a disappointment. The greenhouse sweet peas remained clean though and the outdoor ones did look beautiful in the garden, so all was not lost.

Cutting-Garden-Peonies

Cutting Garden Peonies

Flowers-From-The-Cutting-Garden

Flowers From The Cutting Garden

Sweetpeas

Sweetpeas

July saw the first of my snapdragons joining the hardy annuals, which were still flowering prolifically. I was about to hit a bit of a lean patch again though – I should have direct sown a batch of hardy annuals when I planted out the seedlings in April. Even with regular cutting I find it hard to keep hardy annuals flowering well for longer than eight weeks, so successional sowing is a must. I did direct sow a second batch in early June, which have provided flowers throughout September and October, but next year I will try 3 small sowings to keep the flowers coming all season.

Snapdragons - Phlox-Ammi-Majus

Snapdragons, Phlox & Ammi Majus with Ferns & Blackberries

August was the family holiday season, so the garden took a back seat whilst we enjoyed our trip to Florida and spent some downtime together. Whilst I was taking a break however the Cutting Garden was really ramping up the action with dahlias, half hardy annuals and hydrangeas all getting into their stride.

Dahlia-Promise

Dahlia Promise

Aster-Chrysanthemum-Flowered-Apricot

Aster Chrysanthemum Flowered Apricot

Amaranthus-Viridis

Amaranthus Viridis

Hydrangea-Annabelle

Hydrangea Annabelle

September was all about the wedding. I had been planning a profusion of dahlias and sunflowers to work with and the Cutting Garden was heaving!

Dahlia-Rocco

Dahlia Rocco

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Dahlia-Bouquet

Dahlia Bouquet

So here we are at the end of October and the dahlias are still providing an abundance of blooms. They have been joined by the chrysanthemums in the greenhouse and main borders. Most of the hardy and half hardy annuals have been dug up now to make room for planting tulips and biennials and the cycle for the next year has commenced.

Dahlia Ice Cube

Dahlia Ice Cube

Dahlia-Lilac-Time

Dahlia Lilac Time

Dahlia-Lady-Liberty

Dahlia Lady Liberty

My main lessons this year have been:

  1. To make sure to sow biennials in June for flowering the following spring. Without these there will be a gap in flowering between the tulips and annuals.
  2. To sow hardy annuals in September/October to overwinter and plant out in early spring for flowers in May and early June. Annuals sown in February will not flower until mid to late June.
  3. To direct sow a batch of annuals in April when planting out the seedlings raised in the greenhouse to ensure continuity throughout the summer.
  4. To make a second sowing of hardy annuals direct in late June or early July for autumn blooms.

In terms of plans for next year I will broadly follow the same plan as last year, but will be sowing more snapdragons, asters and cosmos. I am going to choose more whites, purples and peach shades for my seeds as these are the flowers that I am most drawn to when making arrangements for the house or as gifts. I will not be growing cleome again – I found the spikes to difficult to deal with. I will be sowing extra annual clary, annual lavender Spanish Eyes and cosmos to fill gaps in my main borders after the early summer perennials have finished. All three are still bringing colour to my garden, even this late in the season and look lovely with the late flowering roses.

Cosmos-Purity

Cosmos Purity

Every year in a garden is different, so what worked well last year may well fail next. As my experience in growing cut flowers increases I am learning the importance of planning, record keeping and regular sowing to maintain a succession of flowers – little but often is the best way for me to grow the flowers that I want. Also I have learnt that I like my Cut Flower Garden to look like a garden, with roses and perennials mixed in with my annuals and bulbs. Growing in a farming style in long rows is certainly the best way to grow cut flowers if you are selling your produce, but for me too many blooms just means a lot of untidy flowers going over well before their time. I need to grow small quantities of my favourite flowers to keep my patch manageable and attractive, whilst providing the beautiful seasonal blooms that I crave.

At the same time as starting to plan my garden for next year, I am also thinking about the best things to focus on going forward when writing Peonies & Posies. As my Cutting Garden has generated such a lot of interest over the last year, I am planning to start a monthly focus on cut flowers, detailing what I am sowing, planting and cutting. I will call it ‘The Cutting Garden Diary’ and the first post will be in November.

I am also considering a similar monthly post to focus on my greenhouse. I grow so many cut flowers in my greenhouse, as well as sowing seed for vegetables and growing tender summer crops and year round salad. I have sadly managed to fail to write about my greenhouse for a whole season, so a monthly diary date would provide a good discipline.

Do let me know what you think about these ideas and if anyone is interested in joining in and linking up on a monthly basis with either or both of these plans I would be delighted – it would be a great way for us all to share our collective knowledge.

In A Vase On Monday – An Unusual Mix

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Welcome to ‘In A Vase On Monday’ when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to share a vase of flowers picked from my garden every Monday.

A-Floral-Jug

This week I have two garden newcomers to share in my vase – an unusual mix of cow parsley that I have found flowering in a hidden away spot and the first of my outdoor chrysanthemums.

I would normally expect to see cow parsley flowering in the early summer and my chrysanthemums are the last of my flowers in the autumn season, so I am delighted to have been able to combine them in a vase together! Also in my vase this week are some stunning fresh blooms of the Wedgewood Rose, the purple pom poms of dahlia Rocco, more of my annual clary and a few new blooms of cerinthe major.

Chrysanthemum-Allouise-Pink

I am so happy that my chrysanthemums are in flower again. These are one of my favourite seasonal highlights – I love the depth of colour, the size, shape and the slightly shaggy look of this Allouise series – I think they are a perfect contrast to the precision of dahlia Rocco.

This particular chrysanthemum is Allouise Pink, bought from Chrysanthemums Direct as a cutting. This is my second year growing chrysanthemums and in the spring I put all of last years greenhouse plants out into the garden. They have grown well throughout the summer and are now flowering prolifically. The big lesson I have learnt this year is that outdoor chrysanthemums must be supported – these are all falling over under the weight of flowers.

Chrysanthemum-Allouise-Pink Chrysanthemum-Allouise-Pink Chrysanthemum-Allouise-Pink

The Wedgewood Rose is a recent David Austin introduction that I planted last autumn, so it is in its first year of flowering. The first flush in June were very heavy flowers that drooped on the soft young wood of the newly planted rose. This second flush is much smaller and more dainty – and the scent is delicious! Hopefully the rose will be stronger next year and better able to support its lovely flowers.

The-Wedgewood-Rose The Wedgewood Rose

I am really happy with the pinks and purples with a touch of wild from the cow parsley this week. I have arranged them in this white jug that was bought for me by my daughter for Mothers Day.

Clearly the arrangement is tied to the autumn by the chrysanthemums, but because of its colours it still speaks to me of summer. As much as I love the bright oranges and deep russets of this season, my personal favourites are always in the softer shades.

Dahlia-Rocco

Adding depth to this arrangement is dahlia Rocco – a perfect purple pom pom which flowers consistently year after year. As ever I am struggling to capture the colour on camera – the dark shades are very frustrating!

Cerinthe-Major

Also in the vase is self sown cerinthe major, which is flowering across the garden and makes a beautiful addition to a vase at this time of year. Its lovely long lasting arching foliage and bluey purple flowers add grace and movement to the arrangement. Seeds of this flower are expensive, but once growing in the garden it self seeds well. I also collect seed in mid summer (the seeds are ready when they have turned black) to sow in the autumn for next years Cutting Garden crop.

Salvia-Viridis

I used annual clary (salvia viridis) last week and it is still looking beautiful in the borders. I have a tray of both the cerinthe and the salvia growing in the greenhouse, which I hope will provide early flowers for next year.

A-Floral-Jug

Today’s jug of flowers displayed on a sunny kitchen worktop made me feel very happy. After last Monday’s storm, this week the garden is warm and sunny with the high temperatures looking set to last the week. The nights may be drawing in, but I was still gardening in a tee shirt today!

I hope that you will pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she and the others have made for us to enjoy this week.

 

In A Vase On Monday – A Floral Tapestry

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Welcome to ‘In A Vase On Monday’ when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to share a vase of flowers picked from my garden every Monday.

Late-Summer-Bouquet

This weeks contribution to Cathy’s lovely meme was put together in the late afternoon today. I have been tidying beds and planting bulbs in the Cutting Garden today, as well as dead heading my dahlias quite ruthlessly in the hope of protecting them from the approaching storm. When I realised the time it was a case of picking very quickly – before I lost the daylight completely. These early evenings are still catching me out on an almost daily basis!

Late-Summer-Bouquet

The flowers that I grabbed from the Cutting Garden were prepped in the kitchen (by removing all the foliage along the stems and recutting the stem at an angle) and then placed into this tall white jug. I also floated a large flower head of the dahlia Lilac Time in a stemmed Bonbon bowl to show you just how big this dahlia can be. I then rushed outside with the flowers to catch the last of the light and quickly took my photos in the rain as the evening started to draw in.

Late-Summer-Bouquet

Late Summer Bouquet

This mix of flowers – dahlias, cosmos, annual clary, stocks and knautia reminded me of a woven floral tapestry.

Dahlia-Lilac-Time

Lilac Time is my favourite dahlia this year! It manages to be both elegant and graceful despite being so large. I just had to stop and take a few extra shots to try and capture her beauty.

Dahlia-Lilac-Time Dahlia-Lilac-Time Dahlia-Lilac-Time

Dahlia-Lilac-Time

The other dahlia I chose today is called Purple Gem – a Cutting Garden staple for me. Sadly I could not get the colour right in the photographs. It is a true purple, but appears more pink than purple in these shots.

Dahlia-Purple-Gem

I am lucky to still have plenty of cosmos and annual clary to pick – both of these flowers were self sown in the Cutting Garden this year.

Annual-Clary

I am also enjoying the flowers of a late sowing of 10 week stocks, which are looking very fresh in the fading cutting beds. These were sown in July just before we left for our holiday and have been in flower for a couple of weeks now.

Late Stocks

I will be keeping my fingers crossed tonight that the predicted winds do not do too much damage to the Cutting Garden. My shelter belt of yew hedges around the perimeter are still quite young, but they are providing some shelter from the wind these days. I was encouraged to read recently that in theory a hedge is a better windbreak than a wall, as wind can be channelled over a solid wall whereas it will pass through a hedge with the force taken out of it.

I am very busy in the garden right now tidying borders and planting bulbs. I think I have said before that I find November and December very bad months to be in the garden, so I like to get as much done as possible in the hopes of hanging up my boots for a couple of months. In the Cutting Garden I am clearing fading plants out of beds, weeding and mulching and replanting with bulbs and biennials sown earlier in the summer. In the Vegetable Garden all the summer crops have been lifted and eaten or stored. The winter crops are well covered, compost is being spread over empty ground and all that is left is to plant my garlic and broad beans. I am sorry that I have been absent from Peonies & Posies for the last week and that I have not been visiting all your lovely blogs much – I really am prioritising getting the garden under control for a few weeks!

This week I hope to be back on Friday, when I will be talking about my plans for the Cutting Garden next year. In the meantime I hope you will pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she and the others have made this week.

 

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