Author Archives: Lynda

September 2017

September 2017

Moving into September, after the most amazing weather for our late August bank holiday weekend, there is much to do in our cutting patch. Having collected lots of seed from the annuals patch this has now been cleared and weeded and is ready for composting. Last year we planted hardy annuals in this patch but very few survived the winter. This year after composting we will leave it for the worms to play with and probably plant vegetables there next year. Since my cutting patch was originally part of the veggie patch it seems only fair to give it back from time to time!

The Delphiniums and Lupins which were so badly damaged in June and were then cut right back are now having a second flowering. The flowers are nowhere near as strong as they were first time around but still add a welcome touch of colour. The plan is to move them all in the spring to a more sheltered location in the hope of protecting them from the terrible winds that we get down here in the West Country.

The Cosmos 'Gazebo Red' are looking particularly colourful

The Cosmos ‘Gazebo Red’ are looking particularly colourful

The Cosmos suffered terribly from wind rock and wind burn last month in August but we have some survivors, the ‘Gazebo Red’ are looking particularly colourful and the Rudbeckia are also still really beautiful. The Nasturtiums planted against the north facing wall are now climbing up the wall and have nearly reached the top!

The Nasturtiums have nearly reached the top of the wall!

The Nasturtiums have nearly reached the top of the wall!

We have planted out our biennials, wall flowers and sweet rocket seedlings, which we grew from seed but in smaller quantities. This time we have planted them in the garden not in the cutting garden, last year we grew the Sweet Williams as a crop to have enough for our neighbours wedding, this year we are growing them for the garden.

It is really important to keep on top of the weeding at this time of the year and get rid of the weeds before they shed their seeds into the ground after which time you then have an even bigger task getting rid of them.

My Blog will return again in the new year.  I am having to take a break to have some repair work done to my back!  Meanwhile happy gardening to you all!

August 2017

August 2017

August is a time of change in our cutting patch. The Cornflowers, Calendulas, Nigella and Ammi Majus and most of the Poppies are all now over. The wonderful Californian poppies are still flowering and the Scabiosa have just started to flower. We also still have lots of Larkspur and Nasturtiums as well as Sunflowers and Sweet Peas so still lots of colour.

The Sunflowers are still adding lots of colour to our cutting patch

The Sunflowers are still adding lots of colour to our cutting patch

The Rudbeckia also add lots of colour at this time of the year. This is a good time to start collecting seed from the Cornflowers and Calendula and the seed pods from the Poppies and Nigella so that you have lots of seed ready for next year’s planting.

Our pots of flowers are still looking wonderful and fill our patio with colour. If you don’t have a garden or only have a small garden then pots of flowers are a good solution.

Our pots of flowers are still looking wonderful

Our pots of flowers are still looking wonderful

Ninety percent of cut flowers purchased in this country are imported from abroad which is understandable in the winter months but it seems a shame in the summer months to buy imported cut flowers. Flowers for cutting are so easy to grow and you can grow such a variety of different flowers which are never available to buy from a shop.

From next February I am going to go into much more detail, week by week, documenting how we grow our flowers for our cutting patch from start to finish.

For the here and now, it is seed collecting time and time to clear away the old annuals. It is also time to pot on the biennial seedlings planted from seed at the end of June. They have now been potted on from the cell trays into larger pots and in September they will be ready to be planted out into the cutting patch or garden. This year we have grown Wall Flowers as always as they give such a wonderful splash of colour from March right through to June. We have also grown Sweet Williams as we always do as they flower from May through to July and are such good strong stemmed flowers and great for flower arranging. This year we have also grown some Foxgloves, not for cutting but just for planting in the borders.

Time to pot on the biennial seedlings

Time to pot on the biennial seedlings

 

July 2017

July 2017 

The first week of July 2017 has been a glorious one. The first day of July was our next door neighbour’s wedding day and the day dawned with not a cloud in the clear deep blue sky. After a year of planning, planting and growing the flowers for this eventful day it was finally here. On the Wednesday and Thursday prior to the big day we had half a month’s rainfall in two days. The Sweet Williams and Alchemilla Mollis were flattened and my husband worked tirelessly all week to stake up all the flowers that were being battered by the relentless rain, sometimes falling lightly but at other times it was torrential. The previous weeks had been baking hot and he had been watering the plants continuously to keep them from dying of thirst! Despite the trials and tribulations of the good old English weather we managed to have enough flowers for their wedding day.

The table centers were a mix of garden flowers, Alchemilla Mollis, Gypsophila, Sweet Williams, Calendula, Cornflowers, Nigella seed pods and Sweet Peas in glass jars placed inside old vintage tins.

The table centers were a mix of garden flowers

The table centers were a mix of garden flowers

The archway into the garden was a mix of Ammi Majus, Roses, Sweet William, Alchemilla Mollis and Sweet Peas with long ivy trails. The roses in the arch were bought.  Two tubs of lemon yellow Cosmos were on either side of the arch.

 

The archway into the garden

The archway into the garden

There were little glass bottles of mixed flowers on the picnic tables in the garden and two big displays at the entrance to the marquee.  Due to the devastation of our Delphiniums in the storms in June we had to buy in some of the flowers for the two big displays.   The brides and the bridesmaid’s bouquets were a mix of Sweet Peas, Cornflowers, Nigella seed pods and Bupleurum.  The roses in the bouquet, the same as the roses in the arch were bought. The bride looked beautiful and it was a wonderful day.

The bride's and bridesmaid's bouquets

The bride’s and bridesmaid’s bouquets

One of the big displays

One of the big displays

It was great fun growing the flowers for such a special occasion and we did have quite a few moments of trepidation with the weather.  Now a week later we can enjoy the rest of our beautiful cutting patch and garden for ourselves and I have spent a very happy day playing in the garden. The sweet peas are quite spectacular and their wonderful sweet scent fills the rooms of our home.

The Sweet Peas are quite spectacular

The Sweet Peas are quite spectacular

A happy day spent playing in the garden

A happy day spent playing in the garden

We still have an abundance of cornflowers and calendula and also the very pretty and delicate pink Gypsophila. Our sunflowers are just starting to flower and also the Lysimachia and Phlox. There are still lots to look forward to.

Sunflowers are looking beautiful

Sunflowers are looking beautiful

We are now nearing the end of July and despite the weather it has been a wonderful and memorable month.  The Sweet Peas in particular have been outstanding, we have had such a bounty of beautiful blooms from them and they are still going strong.

Picking the Sweet Peas ahead of the thunder storms

Picking the Sweet Peas ahead of the thunder storms

The Poppies have also been really lovely and we have grown some that we have never seen before, from the really delicate Bridal Silk to the multi coloured Peony Poppies, all have been stunning in their own particular way.

The multi coloured Peony Poppies

The multi coloured Peony Poppies

The Lysimachia are now in flower, grown from seed which we started last year in February.  It has been a long journey but well worth the wait, they are really gorgeous.

The Lysimachia are now in flower

The Lysimachia are now in flower

 

June 2017

JUNE 2017

June is the month when all that hard work starts to pay off. The poppies in particular are popping open every day and the bees are just having a feast!

The bees are having a feast on the fresh new poppies

The bees are having a feast on the fresh new poppies

This is the first time that we have grown Eschscholzia Californica ‘Golden West’ or Californian Poppies and they are a real delight. They were so easy to grow from seed in cells in seed compost and then potted on into individual small plastic pots in a mix of soil and compost until they were strong enough to be planted out. From then on they just took off and grew really quickly. They close up at night into tight little minarets and open again the next morning and so last longer than other poppies many of which last no more than a day or two.

Eschscholzia Californica 'Golden West

Eschscholzia Californica ‘Golden West

Poppy 'Bridal Silk'

Poppy ‘Bridal Silk’

Nigella - Love in a Mist

Nigella – Love in a Mist

The Delphiniums, Lupins and the Roses are a blast of colour and the Sweet Williams are starting to flower. We have Cornflowers, Nigella and Calendula all staring to flower and lots more still so come. As of yesterday we also have our first Sweet Pea! Apart from weeding and watering it is now sit back and enjoy time.

Poppies are better than ever this year

Poppies are better than ever this year

7th June. What has happened to our summer?  On what was supposed to be the first week of the (meteorological) summer we have had torrential rain, hail storms, thunder and lightning and winds gusting up to 40 mph.  The storms from Sunday and Monday and the constant battering from the wind and rain over the last three days has left a trail of complete devastation in our cutting patch. All the Lupins are broken and at least half the Delphiniums are also gone despite being supported with stakes earlier last month. It would seem that I spoke too soon when I said it was sit back and enjoy time!

A trail of complete devastation in our once beautiful cutting patch

A trail of complete devastation in our once beautiful cutting patch

On a slightly more positive note the sweet peas have survived and we have picked the first bunch of sweet peas today!  All sweet peas are beautiful but the frilly, striped sweet pea ‘Pandemonium’ and also ‘Sir Henry Cecil’ are particularly lovely.  Many of the poppies and cornflowers have been flattened as well but we have a few remaining in more sheltered spots.

The first bunch of Sweet Peas

The first bunch of Sweet Peas

Some poppies survived the storms in sheltered spots

Some poppies survived the storms in sheltered spots

I have totally fallen in love with these stunningly beautiful golden Californian poppies.  They curl up and go to sleep at night even earlier than I do!

Survivors of last week's storms!

Survivors of last week’s storms!

After the dreadful weather at the beginning of the month which destroyed all the Lupins and most of the Delphiniums we then had scorching hot weather, up to 32 degrees Celsius in the shade on Wednesday 21st June and the hottest June day for 40 years!  Even after the weather cooled off there was still very little rain and we have had to water every day.

We have a really good crop of Sweet William and the Cornflowers, Gypsophila, Ammi Majus and Calendula are all growing really well.

We have a really good crop of Sweet Williams

We have a really good crop of Sweet Williams

 

May 2017

May 2017

Our flower cutting patch this May is slowly beginning to take shape. We have had some lovely warm sunny days and also some really cold nights the last week of April and the first two weeks of May. Thankfully everything has survived and we will soon be reaching that magical cut off time when the nights become too short for a frost to form and growing really takes off! It has also been very dry and so frequent watering has to be done.

The Annuals cutting patch has grown a lot in the last three weeks

The Annuals cutting patch has grown a lot in the last three weeks

This weekend we are planting out all the remaining seedlings, Bupleurum, Scabiosa, three varieties of perennial poppies and three varieties of annual poppies (yes I know, went a bit overboard on the poppies this year!). To accommodate all of these my long suffering but so very patient husband has had to extend the cutting patch just a bit, I think next year I might be banned from buying any seeds! We also have Snap Dragons (Antirrhinums) and two varieties of Rudbeckia ready to go into pots and the perennial Rudbeckia are ready to pot on. We also need to find a home for all the remaining Cosmos as I slightly over did these as well!

Poppy 'Bridal Silk' flowering for the first time

Poppy ‘Bridal Silk’ flowering for the first time

The survivors of the hardy annuals that over wintered from the seed planted last September are all starting to flower, Nigella, Poppies (of course) and Cornflowers. The perennials are all doing really well, the Lupins are starting to flower and the Delphiniums will be soon. We have staked the Delphiniums early this year in the hope that we won’t get caught out again with the strong winds that we get sometimes here in the south west. Last year at the end of June just when they were at their most glorious, our Delphiniums were almost destroyed by wind.

Poppies planted last year are starting to flower

Poppies planted last year are starting to flower

For our next door neighbour’s wedding in July, I think we will almost definitely have Delphiniums, Sweet William, Cornflowers, Nigella, Ammi Majus and Sweet Peas and possibly Alchemilla Mollis, Gypsophela and Bupleurum if they are ready in time. The Sweet Peas that we pinched out when they were very small are now really strong with good sturdy stems and lots of side stems. By contrast the Sweet Peas that we didn’t pinch out are very straggly and weak stemmed.

Ten Days Later

What a difference in such a short space of time. It just goes to show what a bit of warm weather, some sunshine and some rain can have on the plants.  It has been ideal growing conditions and everything has shot up.

Beautiful Lupins starting to flower

Beautiful Lupins starting to flower

It was a smart move staking the Delphiniums early this year as we have had a couple of quite nasty storms with strong wind, heavy rain and also a hail and thunderstorm.  Without the stakes the Delphiniums would have been badly damaged just when they are beginning to look fabulous. The Lupins are looking really colourful and beautiful and the Sweet William are just starting to flower.

The flower cutting patch beginning to look lovely

The flower cutting patch beginning to look lovely

April 2017

April 2017

We have had some great weather this April, the temperature here in the south west reached the dizzy heights of 20 degrees C at the beginning of the month! It didn’t last long but long enough to super charge all the little seedlings into putting on a growing spurt. It wasn’t long before the Cornflowers, Paeony Poppies, Golden West Poppies and the Calendula were ready to plant our into the cutting patch.

The Wall Flowers at their best

The Wall Flowers at their best

Seedlings are in the cutting patch - April 2017

Seedlings are in the cutting patch – April 2017

The Scabiosa, Bupleurum and Larkspur were all ready for potting on and will be ready for planting out in the next few weeks and all the other little seedlings will be ready for potting on this weekend. The big problem will be where to keep them all as not all are frost hardy and we have been having some pretty cold nights, with more cold weather forecast for next week. So as we are not out of the woods yet with nighttime frosts there could be a problem with where to keep all these seedlings! As soon as the danger of night time frosts is over (traditionally mid May) then we will be able to plant out all the tender annuals into the cutting patch and into tubs as well.

Larkspur and Calendula seedlings ready for planting out soon

Larkspur and Calendula seedlings ready for planting out soon

Lots has been happening with the biennials as well, the Honesty (Lunaria Biennis) has all burst into flower, but pretty as they are its not the flowers that I am after but the beautiful disk like silvery seed pods that form after flowering which are great for flower arranging. They attract lots of lovely pollinators as do the Wallflowers which are still looking beautiful and the Lilac tree is also beginning to flower so lots to keep the bees and butterflies very happy.

Honesty (Lunaria Biennis) in full flower

Honesty (Lunaria Biennis) in full flower

March 2017

March 2017

The second day of March brought some much welcome sunshine and we were out in the garden making the most of it, getting the weeding done and composting around the perennials and the biennials grown from seed last summer, Lysmachia; Aquilegia; Sweet William and Honesty;  and planted out in September last year. All are looking really well.  The Hellebores are always a welcome sight at this time of year and are looking really strong.

The biennials in the cutting patch looking healthy this spring March 2017

The biennials in the cutting patch looking healthy this spring March 2017

Our hardy annuals grown from seed planted last September did not fare as well. The Larkspur did not germinate at all (the second lot of seed to fail), the Bupleurum is still there but looking very delicate and none of the Calendula survived despite having a cloche over them. The Cornflowers, Nigella, Ammi Majus, and Poppies all survived and look really healthy. The very very hard frosts that we had towards the end of January, down to minus seven, followed by continuous very cold damp rainy days in February were possibly too hard for some of our hardy annuals. But hey ho, that’s gardening for you and we have lots of seeds planted which will be ready for planting out in a few months time. The Cornflowers, Calendula and Cosmos seeds planted on Saturday 25th February have germinated in just five days!

Hellebores are always a welcome sight at this time of year.

Hellebores are always a welcome sight at this time of year.

Strong and healthy Hellebores add colour to our Spring garden

Strong and healthy Hellebores add colour to our Spring garden

March has been a busy month; we have had trays of seedlings on window sills all over the house and on the porch, both flower seeds and vegetables competing for space. As far as the weather goes we have had pretty much everything, wind and rain, sleet, snow and hail and last weekend, the last weekend of the month, finally glorious sunshine in time for the clocks to go forward and give us that extra hour of evening light.

Lovely Wallflowers brighten up the garden

Lovely Wallflowers brighten up the garden

The garden has lots of colour now with daffodils, tulips and wallflowers all in bloom.

Beautiful red tulips bring a welcome splash of colour

Beautiful red tulips bring a welcome splash of colour

The bees and butterflies are out and about, our cherry tree is about to blossom, our little resident wren is nest building, Spring has most definitely sprung.

The butterflies love the Wallflowers

The butterflies love the Wallflowers

Spring is a good time for moving or splitting perennial plants and we have been busy moving some of the Lysimachia and Aquilegia from the cutting patch where we had too many and into the garden herbaceous border where we had gaps after the winter. We have already potted on the Cornflowers, Calendula, Blue Tansy and the Poppy ‘Golden West’ and ‘Paeony Black’.  It won’t be long now until we will be potting the rest of the seedlings and planting out the sweet peas.

Seedlings ready for potting on.

Seedlings ready for potting on.

 

January & February 2017

January & February 2017

It is that time of the year again, the winter solstice has been and gone and the days are slowly and steadily getting longer. Despite the freezing cold temperatures this January there are signs of Spring all over the garden and we are itching to get going!

The first signs of Spring in the garden, beautiful bright Crocuses

The first signs of Spring in the garden, beautiful bright Crocuses

The sweet pea seeds planted indoors in pots in November have now been moved from the window sill upstairs to the porch and a second batch of sweet peas, planted at the beginning of January, have taken up residence on the spare room window sill, germination was good and they are all doing well. Another couple of weeks and we will be thinking about planting into pots some of the perennial seeds we purchased last year, perennial Sunflowers, Astrantia and three different varieties of Poppy.

The annual seeds planted out into the cutting patch last September all germinated really well with the exception of Larkspur which failed to germinate not just once but twice, the second batch was also a failure so we will try again. This time we will start them off in pots indoors and hopefully plant them out in April. Apart from the Larkspur all the rest, Ammi Majus, Cornflowers, Nigella and Poppies have survived the winter, the Calendula have survived but are not looking very happy. Most of the annuals in the cold frames are fine but once again the Calendula have not enjoyed this freezing cold weather, down to minus seven on occasion. The Poppies have been so prolific that they have swallowed up the Bupleurum so we will have to start again with them as well.

That’s the beauty of gardening, it is all one big, ever changing experiment, and if something fails then you try something else or try another way. It never gets boring and keeps mind and body working and in good health. The biennials have all survived the winter so far, Wallflowers, Honesty and Sweet William and the established perennials as well.

Planning further along the line we have purchased some new Cosmos seed, ‘Rubies in Sunshine and Xanthos’ and also Cosmos ‘double click’. Our Rudbeckia were so lovely last year that we have bought a dark pink one ‘brilliant star’ to add to our collection.

It’s going to be a wonderful year, can’t wait to get out there!

The last weekend of February has traditionally always been my seed planting weekend. With the weather so cold and wet, I set up my seed trays in the warmth of the kitchen this year.

Having planted my seeds last year straight into three inch pots, this year I have reverted to planting them in to cells in seed trays.

Firstly the annuals. These are the flowers that we grow from scratch every year. The seeds grow into young seedlings, these then get potted on from the cells into three inch plastic pots until they are strong enough to plant out. They then, hopefully grow into strong plants and then die back at the end of the season. We collect seed from them for next year. Hardy annuals can be planted out before the last frost of the season but the more tender annuals need to be protected until the last frost, usually around mid May. Alternatively wait until April and sow the seeds directly into the ground. I always grow them in pots first and then plant them out, that way they flower a little bit earlier.

This year we have planted Cornflowers, Black Ball and Blue Ball; Calendula Indian Prince; Scabiosa Scarlet Wedding; Larkspur Imperials mixed; Bupleurum Rotundifolium, Poppy Peony Black; Poppy Golden West and Blue Tansy. We have also planted seven different varieties of Cosmos; Double Click; Rubies in sunshine (a mix of yellow and red); Candy Stripe; Polidor mixed (mixed shades of orange); Pied Piper and Purity.

Then for the perennials. These will take longer to grow but hopefully will become established plants and come back year after year. This year we are going to grow Astrantia Ruby Cloud; Rudbeckia Brilliant Star; perennial Sunflowers Laetiflorus and three varieties of perennial Poppy; Oriental Dwarf Allegro; Fruit Punch and Coral Reef.

October 2016

October 2016

The first two weeks of October were noticeably colder than the end of September with an east wind blowing. The weather was dry and sunny but cold, down to 12 C in the daytime and on a few nights we have had a frost resulting in the Cosmos starting to look very tatty.

We have moved the antirrhinums from the tubs on the patio and planted them in the garden freeing up some of the tubs to plant up with tulip and daffodil bulbs. Our lovely Salvia ‘hot lips’ which has grown so well from the little shrub we bought on a visit to Kinghtshayes this summer has been moved to the shelter of our back patio where hopefully it will survive the winter but just in case it doesn’t we have taken some cuttings and put them in the cold frame.

Young plants in the cold frame ready to over winter.

Young plants in the cold frame ready to over winter.

The cold frames are now full of little plants. The Sweet Williams ‘Sooty’ are still too small to be planted out into the cutting patch so they will have to stay in the cold frame for the winter. We also have a lot of Calendula, Cornflowers and Poppies that had self seeded in the cutting patch, so these have been dug up and planted in pots to over winter in the cold frame.  If you don’t have a greenhouse then these little cold frames are ideal for keeping young plants until next spring.

It is time to tidy up the Delphiniums and Lupins again after they flowered for the second time in September and it’s also time to tidy up the herbs. The seed bed that we planted at the beginning of September is doing really well but needed a lot of weeding. Once again the Larkspur didn’t germinate but everything else is now established enough to survive the winter. Even though they are all hardy annuals I propose to cover them with fine netting cloches to give them a little bit of protection if we get any very hard frosts.

Lovely autumn colours of the Rudbeckias

Lovely autumn colours of the Rudbeckias

The Rudbeckia are still looking really lovely and we have some bright red Poppies that have self seeded and are now flowering in the veggie patch!

Lovely bright red Poppies have self seeded and flowering in the veggie patch!

Lovely bright red Poppies have self seeded and flowering in the veggie patch!

 

September 2016

September 2016

September in my small garden cutting patch has mainly been all about preparing for next year. Next year in July is my next door neighbour’s wedding and the plan is to grow most of the flowers in my cutting patch.

I already have an established patch of delphiniums and lupins, the delphiniums grow and multiply year by year, the lupins have been there a year and hopefully will do one or two more. I have now planted Lysmachia and Aqualegias which I have grown from seed this year and the Alchemilla mollis are now established plants.

Next year's cutting patch looking good

Next year’s cutting patch looking good

The biannuals, Honesty and Sweet Williams are now established and doing well and I am also growing a different Sweet William called ‘Sooty’, which I first spotted on a visit to a National Trust property. These seedlings are still very small and may not be ready to plant out in time before the first frost arrives in which case they will have to be over wintered in the cold frame.

With lots of help from my husband and my son we have prepared and planted the hardy annual seeds, Cornflowers, Nigella, Poppies, Ammi Majus, Bubleurum and Calendula, for flowering late Spring and early Summer next year. If all goes well and according to plan then we should have lots of lovely flowers for the wedding!

The cutting patch still has some colour, the Rudbeckia are beautiful and the Delphiniums are flowering for the second time.

Wonderful display of colour from the Rudbeckias

Wonderful display of colour from the Rudbeckias