Friday 23 December 2016

Hoe hoe hoe

Much as I love Christmas, I am excited for it to be all packed away, because then, and only then, can the new growing season truly begin. I am savouring the thought of compiling my seed order, but I refuse to give in to such a delight, until the last remnants of the turkey is eaten, and the last cracker is pulled.

Outside the window all is dank and decaying, but in my head everything is young and fresh and green. I know that there is lots to love about winter, from the beautiful bare skeletons of the trees, to the mist rolling gently in across the fields. I am a huge fan of log fires, cosy nights and good books and enjoy respite from the garden which enable me to enjoy those pleasures. But, once Christmas is out of the way, we are heading towards spring. From the Winter Solstice we are heading out of, and not into, winter. The days begin to lengthen, imperceptibly at first, but lengthen they do. It won't be long before there are the first heralds of the season, and then, before you know it we'll be knee deep in roses and wisteria.

My increasing excitement for the new growing season is due, in part, to a new and cunning plan ... to start a cutting garden to supply the house with flowers through the whole year, if possible. I currently spend between £7 and £10 per week on cut flowers which costs approximately £400 per year. It makes sense on an economic level as well as unmanly other levels too.

Although I grow a garden full of flowers, it turns out I can't bring myself to cut more than an occasional stem for the house. Surely this way, with a designated  patch just for cut flowers, I will be able to wield the scissors without guilt.

I need to learn about how to set up a new cutting garden, and need some advice on what to grow, how to sow successionally and how to provide flowers for as much of the year as possible. There is a wealth of information out there, in the form of blogs, vlogs, podcasts and books. Father Christmas has his instructions and will hopefully be dropping 'The cut flower patch' by Louise Curley down the chimney very soon. I have also put in a request for florist's scissors and snips.

I am already deciding which favourites will be guaranteed a place in this new cutting garden. It is not huge, so everything will have to earn its place. I want to have flowers available all year round, so my planning will have to take this into account. Flowers in mid summer will be easy, but having something to cut in November is a different matter. Steep learning curve here, I think ...

Definites will be cosmos, dahlias and sweet peas, so all I need to do with these three, is to decide which variety I fancy. Hopefully the books etc will supply countless ideas for other flowers/ foliage to grow. I will be growing everything from seed, so the cost will be minimal.

I have allowed myself to start a teeny bit of research, and have been onto the Sarah Raven website, and looked at her 'cutting garden pack' of seeds containing her best-loved varieties. I may take that as my starting point and develop it from there, using my personal preferences. I grow lots of different flowers for the garden already, but because I never cut them, I have no idea about their properties as cut flowers. I suppose I will be growing for longevity in the vase, but have little idea which varieties will be best.

I love Rudbeckias, and they would give reliable  colour late in the season, but will have to research whether they are good as cut flowers. 'Cherokee Sunset' and 'Cherry Brandy' are lovely in the garden.
As for foliage, no cut flower vase is complete without some, and I can actually  use foliage from shrubs in the garden, as I consider cutting it as a form of pruning, so can bring myself to do it !

I would like to grow some foliage plants in the cutting garden, but again, will have to learn what is most suitable for the purpose. Melianthus Major is a glorious plant with wonderful serrated leaves, of a cool glaucus grey. It is easy to grow from seed, and the young plants grow very quickly. But is it suited to life in a vase ? I need to find out !

I try to save as many seeds as I can every year, for many different reason. Obviously there is a cost implication as self collected seed is totally free, and it is also organic. There are no seed miles' involved, as the longest journey these seeds make is up the garden path! Self collection usually equates to more plants, as seed is usually produces in large quantities, and with many plants it can be collected over several weeks, so there is more to turn into lovely plants! I think I have enough sweet pea seed saved from this season, including 'Midnight', shown in the photo above. It is such a dark, rich colour, ad goes beautifully with cream and lilac varieties.

So, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and peaceful 2017 !


  1. Hi Jane, gosh, a cutting garden would be my dream! As a matter of fact, I have been tinkering with the same idea to start one, as it would be so wonderful to cut a little bouquet every now and then for the house.
    Unfortunately, I came to the conclusion that my garden is simply too small for a separate cutting garden. I have decided instead to try to plant more cut flowers in general, so that I don't feel so guilty, if I snip some off for the house. As you may know, my favorite flowers are roses and I intend to plant three bushes of the varieties that I like, instead of just one, so that when I cut a few blooms, I don't end up with one bare bush. If I cut from three, hopefully it won't even be noticeable.
    I am very excited for you and your new cutting garden project. Please do report on your blog how things go and definitively take photos from the bouquets that you will be harvesting.
    Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year 2017!
    Warm regards,

    1. That is a good idea, Christina, and it sounds as if it would be much easier to cut flowers if there were lots left. I am rubbish at cutting anything from the garden though, as I just can't bring myself to do it. Silly, I knw, because they bring me so much pleasure when they are inside the house!
      Hoping you have a lovely christmas and a happy, healthy 2017

  2. You have given me quite a lot to think about. It is so exciting to be thinking about cutting gardens when the ice is coming down. No work and such beautiful photos to look at to get the frozen gardening juices flowing. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Peaceful New Year.

    1. Once of the nice things about Christmas is that it allows time to catch up on blogs and reading!
      Happy Christmas to you Lisa, and a happy and peaceful 2017

  3. I've just sorted my sweet pea varieties and Midnight is one of my choices. My cut flowers are grown on the allotment and so I feel less guilty cutting them. I,sowed some hardy annuals last autumn which are now small plant size and I hope will flower early next spring. One was a pavket of mixed seed. During spring snd sumner I sowed annuals (hardy and half hardy) successionally.

    1. I love 'Midnight' , one of my favourites . Growing cut flowers on the allotment is a lovely way to grow them, as I bet it is totally guilt free. I will have to get my head around the successional sowing, as I have not done it before, even with veg (don't grow anything which needs it !).
      Happy Christmas to you Sue, and happy blogging too !

  4. Cathy's 'In a Vase on Monday' meme has got us all thinking about cutting gardens but also becoming less shy about cutting from the beds and borders. I hope you will record your progress here.

    1. It is a great meme ! Once I get the cutting garden up and running I am hoping to join in. Love looking at everyone's creations . Happy Christmas Ricki

  5. I almost envy you those cosy winter evenings with catalogs and garden plans ;-) I need to get on with seedsowing in this climate! I'll definitely look forward to learning from your cutting garden adventure!

    1. There are definite advantages to winter, Amy! Cosy evenings are a welcome trips from the garden, although, I can't wait to het going again now! Happy Christmas to you !

  6. What fun you will have planning and making your cutting garden Jane. I look forward to seeing what you will grow. Happy Christmas Jane.

  7. Lol, nice Title and you have provided useful information, thank you much. I am also waiting for christmas.

  8. Thank you so much for your fantastic advice and insight! I am always looking to other gardening sites for information and inspiration!

    Your site looks amazing and you provide huge value in the field of gardening!

    Have an awesome sunny day!

    Rick Smith


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I really welcome comments and have learned much from them, over the years of leaning over the virtual garden gate ...