Planning Your Cut Flower Garden
How does the Meadow flower its bloom unfold? Because the lovely little flower is free down to its root, and in that freedom bold. – William Wordswort
One of my many new years resolutions for the garden is to spend more time growing cut flowers. Every year I have grand plans to do bigger and better things but end up planting everything in the herbaceous borders as usual. They do just fine, but the downside is they never really get the care and attention they deserve, and are pretty much left to get on with it. Well, this year it’s going to be different as I’m planning to create a new cut flower garden at Blackbirds.
I consider myself very lucky to have plenty of space to indulge my favourite pastime, but you can also grow cut flowers in the smallest of spaces. In the past I’ve grown chrysanthemums, and sweet peas in pots. Just make sure you plant nice and deep in the pot and don’t let the roots dry out. Sweet Peas in particular hate to dry out, so my advice is to keep them well watered, or add moisture retaining gel to the compost.
How do I plan for a cut flower garden?
On large projects I like to design a little plan on paper first. I find it helps if you have an idea of what you’re trying to achieve before starting too much heavy lifting! I also like to take a few photos of the space, and print them out so I can doodle a few ideas. I tend to print in black and white as it helps me to focus on the colours of the planting rather than the surrounding area.
The area I’m planning to use is in what we call the kitchen garden. One half is dedicated to growing vegetables and the other had the chickens on it until we moved them last year. So I have a sizeable piece of rough ground that is well manured (thanks to the chucks) that with some work should make a beautiful cut flower garden.
On a separate note, it’s not recommend to keep chickens in the same place for too long, or they can develop problems with their feet, which in turn is passed around the rest of the flock.
When is the ideal time to start a cut flower garden?
As with most of my garden projects I find the best time is late winter or early Spring. The weather tends to be a little kinder to you, and the ground is a bit easier to work. Also a lot of the cut flower varieties like sweet peas and chrysanthemums grow through the Spring and early Summer flowering in the latter half of the summer when the sun is at its peak, so best to start the prep well in advance.
So I’m going to do all the ground work over the next few weeks and then start planting out in early April, Can’t wait!
I’ve been using the spare ground as a holding bed for various plants I’ve inherited from friends and family over the last 2 seasons, so they’re going to have to be moved before I can start planting.
Although there is nothing to stop you moving plants at anytime in the year now is a good time as it’s the dormant period and most plants are still hibernating, but in a few weeks they’ll start to put on new growth, so best to move them now.
Ideas for a layout
We went to visit the Eden Project last summer where they had the most amazing looking veg beds that looked like giant moon crescents. If you ever have an opportunity to visit the Eden project then I urge you to go. Along with the gardens at Heligan it’s one of the most inspirational places I’ve ever been.
For my cut flower garden I’m going to create 4 small beds in sort of parterre style, pretty much like the kitchen garden really. I’m going for a little symmetry to give this area of the garden a sense of balance.
Inspiration for the layout came from Monty Don’s garden at Longmeadow, which is another of my favourites. Planning the garden around a series of rooms creates interest and encourages discovery. Hidcote in Oxfordshire is a another fine example of creating secret gardens within gardens, definitely worth a visit if your in the area.
What shall I plant in my new cut flower garden?
Well they say the start is everything, so now I’ve finally got around to making a start I guess I’m going to need to start thinking about what I’m going to plant. Apart from the usual suspects I’ve really no idea what to plant, so would really appreciate any suggestions.
My list so far …
Sweet Peas, Chrysanthemums, Dahlias, Bush Roses and night scented Stock.
Not much of a list as you can see.
I’ll be putting the finishing touches to the beds and starting to prepare the ground ready for the plants. I should have my planting plan finished by then which I’ll share with everyone.