In A Vase On Monday – Sweet Pea Success!!

Tags

, , ,

Welcome to ‘In A Vase On Monday,’ when I join Cathy at Rambling In The Garden in her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase in the house every week. Cathy is celebrating writing her 1000th post this week – I am in awe and congratulate her on this great achievement!

After the lean months of winter this week I really am spoilt for choice. New blooms are appearing daily and there are flowers to choose from wherever I look. Despite all this bounty however, I really had to show off this week and use my sweet peas that have just started flowering in the greenhouse. Yes – I have sweet peas in April!! This is unheard of in my garden and I could not resist snipping these beauties and plonking them in a vase with a few stems of Honesty and some scented leaf geranium flowers (again from the greenhouse) to make a casual summery arrangement.

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

Just as a quick reminder these are from seeds of winter varieties of sweet peas, designed to grow and flower under cover in lower light levels. I bought the seed in a variety of colours from Owl’s Acre Sweet Peas and it was sown back in November. The small plants were planted into the greenhouse bed in February and have been growing steadily since. Hopefully these will keep flowering until my outdoor sweet peas (which I planted out at the weekend) start to flower towards the end of June or early July. If you would like to read more about growing sweet peas I wrote a Flower Focus – Sweet Peas post back in January.

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

I could not be happier with this selection – the colours are lovely, the stems long and they have that beautiful sweet pea fragrance which takes so many of us back to our childhood gardens.

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

I added a few stems of scented leaf geranium flowers, which have overwintered in the greenhouse and just burst into flower this week with the sweet peas.

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

I have also used a few stems of both white and purple Honesty, which has just started to flower in the Cutting Garden. These plants were sown under cover in June last year and planted out into the Cutting Garden in October. I picked my first stems last Friday and these have held up well in a vase in my kitchen. They add a really summery feel that I would not expect to find in April. They have lots of side shoots, so I am hoping they will have a long cutting period.

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

I am so delighted to have such a lovely selection of flowers to compliment all my different tulips, which I am picking on a daily basis.

April-Sweet-Pea-Vase

Life in the garden is very hectic at the moment to say the least. I had almost all of last week off doing lots of lovely things – a trip to Kensington Palace and gardens including a delicious lunch in the beautiful Orangery, a visit to the ever inspirational Beth Chatto Gardens with Chloris from The Blooming Garden, a visit to my garden from Christina of My Hesperides Garden, a village coffee morning and lots of lovely evenings out. I went back into the garden today, despairig of the weeds which are germinating and growing at the speed of light, the many trays of seedlings waiting to be pricked out or planted into the garden, the seeds that have not yet been sown – the list goes on! Spring is a madly busy time for gardeners, but when I look at the flowers that I picked today I know that all the hard work and angst is worth it!!

Lastly for today I need to announce the winner of my Cutting Garden Review Giveaway! Thank you all for your lovely comments – I have loved reading about what everyone is up to in their gardens this month and will reply over the next day or two. The winner of the draw is Ivette – if you email me your address Ivette I will get your copy of ‘Some Flowers’ by Vita Sackville-West into the post later this week – I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

I hope to be back later in the week with my Big Tulip Review for 2015 – what I grew, what I loved and what will be making it onto my list for next season. This is quite a time consuming post to prepare though, so it will probably be the weekend before I am ready to share it. I also have photos from Beth Chatto’s Garden and Kensington Palace to share, so I will be quite busy working on posts here, as well as getting on in the garden. I will keep my fingers crossed for a few hours of rain here and there to water the garden and give me an excuse to come inside and write!

Thank you as ever to Cathy for giving us all a mission on Mondays – I hope that you will pop over to her blog to see what she and the others have made this week.

The Cutting Garden In April & A Giveaway

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

What a difference a month makes! When I last wrote about the Cutting Garden in March, I was waiting for the first flowers to bloom.

A few weeks later and my Cutting Garden is overflowing with tulips – my own mini Keukenhof! Not only that, I also have a number of biennials coming into flower and autumn sown hardy annuals growing well, so it looks like I will have avoided the flowering gap that I had last year between my tulips and the February sown hardy annuals which do not flower before June.

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

I will post separately on the different varieties of tulips that I have grown – today I just want to enjoy the bounty! These tulips are a mix that I have purchased from the  Gee Tee Bulb Company and Sarah Raven.

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

Even the rhubarb has exploded this month – pushing the top off my forcer and providing two harvests of beautiful pink stems already!

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

The Honesty that I planted out last autumn has started to flower. This is a new flower for me, so I will be interested to see how it does in a vase and how long it flowers for – I will report back next month.

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

If you have been following this series you might remember that I showed my Cutting Garden plans back in February. On these you could see the four large square beds that make up most of my growing area. As you look at the photos of the tulips above you can see how I plant them – about 5 bulbs deep in rows around the edges of these square beds. By planting around the perimeter in this way I can weed between the bulbs early in the season and then harvest the flowers without needing to walk on the beds. I tend to stick to planting in rows and blocks in the Cutting Garden as it makes it easier to harvest the flowers and replant areas that have gone over.

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

Looking at the same bed from a different angle, you can see that the centre is still empty. This space is reserved for dahlias, which will be planted out in early June. The four big beds have a box hedge edging and then the tulip borders. Inside the tulip borders I am building up a collection of David Austin roses that are interplanted with the hardy annuals grown in the greenhouse over winter. I hate to cut too many roses from my main garden, so am looking forward to having the freedom to pick freely from my favourite bushes in the Cutting Garden. That leaves the central area for the dahlias which will be planted in June. In two of the beds I have biennials in the centre which I will remove when it is time to plant out the dahlias. Once the tulips have died back or been lifted (I try to replant a section of each bed each year to ensure a good selection of flowers), I will overplant the edges of the beds with both hardy and half hardy annuals.

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

In amongst some of the tulips you can see a few buds of the allium Purple Sensation. I grow a lot of this beautiful purple ball in the main garden, but want to have some that I can cut without worrying about depleting my garden display.

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

The peonies are putting on growth very quickly. I am waiting for a few rainy days to soften the soil so that I can interplant them with my gladioli bulbs and then I will wind string around the wooden sticks to provide support for the heavy peony flowers and foliage.

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg Cutting-Garden-April.jpg Cutting-Garden-April.jpg Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

These are the Sweet Rocket plants sown last autumn and ready to flower any day now. Again this is a new plant for me, so I am looking forward to seeing how they perform.

Cutting-Garden-April.jpg

These larkspur plants were also sown last autumn, overwintered in the greenhouse and are now growing into good sized plants. I have planted out all my hardy annuals that were sown in the autumn and am making a start on the February sown hardy annuals, which are now being hardened off in the cold frames.

Cutting-Garden-April

The sweet pea frame is ready with the jute netting support that I used last year. The jute netting is from Agriframes and is the best product I have come across for supporting sweet peas and the climbing bean and pea crop. You can see some weed fabric has been used to cover the soil under the frame. In past years I have had a huge problem with weeds germinating in this area and getting tangled up with the sweet peas. I tried this fabric last year and it solved the weed problem. The sweet peas are ready to be planted out, but I am a bit behind following last weeks wedding preparations – hopefully they will go in over the weekend.

Most of my half hardy annuals are now sown and are ready to be pricked out. I just have the zinnias and sunflowers left to sow. Last year it was May before I got around to sowing these and they performed very well in the late summer and autumn, so I am happy to wait a week or two yet. The important thing at this busy time of year is to pace yourself – there is no point in starting off more than you have time to care for and plant out. Also watch the last frost dates – I would rather wait an extra week or two to plant out my half hardy seedlings than risk losing my plants to a late frost. This has happened too often in the past for me to do it again. I now always wait until June to plant out anything tender, which would include half hardy annuals and dahlias. There will be plenty of biennial and annual flowers to follow the tulips this year, so I am in no hurry to rush the growing season.

Just before I finish I had to show you this photo from my greenhouse today – I have sweet peas!! My winter varieties from Owl’s Acre Sweet Peas are starting to flower and smell delicious. These are a good two months earlier than I have ever had sweet peas before, so well worth the effort.

Cutting-Garden-April

Finally I have a lovely little book for this month’s Giveaway. Called ‘Some Flowers’  and written by Vita Sackville-West in 1937, this book has been recently republished by the National Trust and includes beautiful colour drawings by Graham Rust of all the plants described by Vita. A great resource for anyone who loves gardening, Vita describes the characteristics and growing preferences of 25 of her favourite plants. To enter the draw just leave a comment on this post. The draw is open to everyone and will be made on Monday evening just before I publish my ‘In A Vase On Monday’ post.

I love to hear about everyone else’s growing experiences, whether you have a dedicated cutting area, a spot in your garden beds, or just a few pots. If you are a blogger, please do think about writing a post and leave a link here. Otherwise just a comment to tell us all what is working, or not, with your cutting flowers –  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

Preparations For An April Wedding – Part Three

Tags

, , , , , ,

Welcome back to the final post in my series about last weeks April wedding preparations.

Having finished the church and the barn, the final stage was to make the three bridesmaids bouquets and the bridal bouquet. This was the most nerve racking part of the whole process! In agreement with the bride I had decided early on that it would be best to buy in the flowers for these bouquets. If the wedding had been later in the season I would have been more inclined to use garden flowers, but the uncertainty of having suitable flowers by mid April meant I was happier to know we had the flowers on order. Besides – all brides like to have a few roses on their wedding day and these are in short supply in April.

For the bride I ordered white Avalanche roses, white ranunculus and white stocks. The bride was clear that she did not want a round hand tied bouquet. The elegant trailing twenties style was much more too her taste. Too achieve this look I used the flowing foliage of Thiapsi (available from florists) and plenty of stems of my Bridal Wreath spirea (spirea ‘arguta’) from the garden.

April-Wedding

I loved this lace ribbon threaded with a string of pearls, which I used to bind the stems of the bouquet. The pearl pins held the ribbon in place. The lace ribbon was provided by the bride.

April-Wedding

White Avalanche roses are unscented but beautiful. I sprayed the bouquet with water to keep it fresh – hence the water droplets on the petals.

April-Wedding

The white stocks added a beautiful scent to the bouquet.

April-Wedding April-Wedding April-Wedding April-Wedding April-Wedding

The bridesmaids bouquets were simple hand tied bunches of white snapdragons threaded through with beautiful airy ferns. By the time I finished the bouquets I was so short of time that I had to photograph the three bouquets all together in the bucket in which I would transport them to the bride.

April-Wedding April-Wedding April-Wedding April-Wedding

So that marks the end of my preparations for this beautiful wedding – the bouquets were delivered to the bride on Friday evening, I popped back to the venue on Saturday morning to add the final touches and now I am looking forward to seeing the professional photos – I hope there is a lovely one of the bridal party with their bouquets!

I will be back tomorrow with my April Cutting Garden Review. For this month’s Giveaway I have found a lovely little book called Some Flowers by Vita Sackville-West. First published in 1937, Vita provides pen portraits of 25 of her favourite flowers and it is a real treat to read. To enter the draw simply leave a comment on tomorrows post.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 785 other followers