The Flower Cutting Patch 2016

The Flower Cutting Patch 2016

 The story of my small garden flower cutting patch is now in its third year and provides me with a continuous source of entertainment and contemplation.  I now have one section which is for perennial plants, the Delphiniums are well established, strong plants and I have added another four new ones this year. The Sweet Rocket and Lupins grown from seed last year and planted out last September have all survived the winter and are also thriving in the cutting patch.  To this section I am hoping to add two varieties of Antirrhinum and two varieties of Rudbeckia as well as Lysimachia and Alchemilla Mollis.  The Antirrhinum and Rudbeckia grown from seed are both growing really well, however the Lysimachia and Alchemilla Mollis are really tiny and not doing well at all.  I may have to give in and buy some plug plants and will make a decision in a few weeks’ time on that.

Perennials in the flower cutting patch looking strong and healthy

Perennials in the flower cutting patch looking strong and healthy

Once again I started to plant seeds at the end of February and once again (I never learn!) I ran out of space to put all the little seedlings once they had been potted on.  With the weather so cold throughout most of April it has been hard to decide what to plant out under poly tunnels and what to leave in the cold frame. I have decided to grow a patch of edible flowers again this year as last year’s was such a success and so with great trepidation at the end of the third week of April I planted out three varieties of cornflowers, three varieties of calendula and four varieties of nasturtiums to add to the three varieties of sunflowers planted out in mid-April.  The sunflowers and nasturtiums have been planted under polythene as they are not frost hardy and the cornflowers and calendula under netting as they are hardy.  The edible flower patch is now full and compared to this time last year, I would say it is at least three weeks behind because of April being so cold.

In the annuals patch I planted Gypsophila, two varieties of Nigella (Love in a mist) and Poppies under polythene, Larkspur and Bupleurum under netting.  As luck would have it, the weather then turned even colder and in one week, the last week of April we had everything, wind and rain, sleet, hailstorms and frost at night (it snowed on Dartmoor but thankfully not with us).  A couple of the Nasturtiums are looking a little bit frost damaged but everything else has survived!! As an added bonus the Ammi Majus and Corncockles from last year have self- seeded and are growing really strong.  I also planted a section of Wall Flowers last year but due to the very cold weather they are still nowhere near flowering whereas last year by the end of April we had stacks of beautiful Wall Flowers.

My husband has also been busy with his sweet peas and has grown more varieties this year than ever before.  He has planted them out all along the fence of our veggie/cutting patch and also one big sweet pea wigwam right in the middle, I love sweet peas and am so looking forward to having the house full of their lovely scent again this year. This year’s Sweet Peas, fifteen different varieties are as follows: Frills & Blushes; Leominster Boy; Summer Sizzler; Pandemonium; Rosy Frills, Beaujolais; Singing the Blues; Tall Mixed; Barry Dare; Sir Henry Cecil; Lizbeth all from Mr Fothergill’s; Erewhon; Skylark Mixed and Giant Waved Mixed from Johnsons and Old Fashioned Mixed from Country Value.

Nigel's Sweet Pea Wigwam

Nigel’s Sweet Pea Wigwam

The cold frame is still full with seven varieties of Cosmos, Lysimachia, Alchemilla Mollis, Phlox, Scabiosa, Emilia, Antirrhinums, Rudbeckias, more Nasturtiums and Hollyhocks.  Lots of planning and planting to do after the last frost, hopefully in a few weeks time.

After a cold, wet and windy April, the warm sunny days of the first two weeks of May have been very welcome. May is the time when everything starts to come together. It is the time when all the planning and preparation and also the waiting of the last few months starts to pay off.

Sweet Peas growing well along the chicken wire fence

Sweet Peas growing well along the chicken wire fence

All the little seedlings that we planted out in April have survived and look really healthy and with the sunshine and showers of the last few weeks as well as the warmer nights everything has started growing much faster. As the night time frosts have hopefully past now it is time to plant out all the other little plants, the annuals that are not frost resistant. So on Sunday 15th May I planted all the rest of the poppies, Shirley Mixed and Peony Black in the annuals patch along with the Scabiosa Back In Black, Emilia Irish Poet and the Phlox Moody Blues. I also started another perennials section as a sort of over flow and planted the Antirrhinum Circus Clowns there. I hope to add Lysimachia and Alchemilla Mollis when they are ready.

The Edible Flower Patch - May 2016

The Edible Flower Patch – May 2016

The Sweet Rocket in the perennial patch have started to flower and the Delphiniums will not be long now. To this I added Rudbeckia Gloriosa, Rudbeckia Irish Spring and Antirrhinum Night and Day, this patch is now full.

The Cosmos seedlings are all going into tubs on the patio as they looked so wonderful there last year and they were so popular with the butterflies and the bees, pollinator heaven! We are also going to plant a trough of bright red Nasturtiums also grown from seed.

Sweet William

Sweet William

On a recent visit to Cornwall I noticed that there were Wall Flowers in full flower everywhere and they looked so pretty. It has been a real puzzle as to why the wall flowers have not yet flowered in my cutting patch but at last I think I know the answer. They are in fact not wall flowers at all they are Sweet William!! I have found the seed packet and it very definitely says Wall Flowers Cloth of Gold but they are very definitely not and it has only become evident as they have put on quite a bit of growth in this warmer weather and are starting to produce flowers! I kept looking at them and thinking that they looked more like Sweet William plants and not Wall Flower plants, the foliage was all wrong, so now puzzle solved. So no Wall Flowers this year but a healthy crop of Sweet William, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ as the saying goes!

The Sweet Williams looking really healthy in the cutting patch

The Sweet Williams looking really healthy in the cutting patch

My small garden cutting patch in June 2016 is really lovely, there is so much going on that it’s difficult to know where to start. The Lupins, Sweet Rocket and Delphiniums with their vibrant colours are strong and healthy and the Sweet Williams are growing more beautiful day by day. The Sweet peas are all starting to flower too as are the Nasturtiums in the edible patch.

Lupins looking very colourful in the cutting patch

Lupins looking very colourful in the cutting patch

It’s been a busy month as well with planting the biannual seeds for next year’s flowers. This year we have planted Wall Flowers , Sweet William, Honesty and Sweet Rocket. We have also planted some more Lupins as this year’s have been such an amazing success.

This year's Sweet Rocket has been a great success!

This year’s Sweet Rocket has been a great success!

We have also potted on the Lysmachia and the few remaining Snapdragons and Rudbeckia plants were moved to the cutting patch. Within a few weeks the Lysmachia needed potting on again into bigger pots and the Hollyhocks, Aqualegias and Verbascum were potting on from the small cell trays.

After the first ten days of the month which were sunny and warm, the rest of the month has been very wet but also quite warm and humid and everything has grown like mad. The biannual seeds planted at the beginning of the month are ready to be potted on in just three and a half weeks. We are picking flowers every few days and there is so much more still to look forward to.

June has been the wettest June on record and it has certainly been a challenge!  The strong winds on the evening of Tuesday 28th and into the next day did a lot of damage to the Sweet Peas, Delphiniums and the Lupins in the cutting patch blowing them back and forth and snapping them like little twigs despite being staked.  The Cosmos on the patio which are only just starting to flower were equally blown about and quite damaged as well.  Quite heart breaking but all you can do is clear it all up and look forward to everything that is still to come.  Due to the cold April and the wet June many of our plants for example cornflowers, calendulas and sunflowers are all going to flower several weeks later than they did this time last year.  The Poppies are just starting to emerge but we have to catch them quickly or they soon get blown away!

Our biennial seedlings for planting in September for next year’s flowering are doing really well, protected from the weather in the cold frame.

Next year's biennial seedlings looking healthy

Next year’s biennial seedlings looking healthy

My small garden flower cutting patch this July is a sea of tranquil beauty.  The Sweat Peas and the Poppies in particular are quite stunning.  It is hard to put into words how beautiful it all looks, the photographs tell all.

A sea of tranquil beauty

A sea of tranquil beauty

But just because everything is flowering like mad there is still much to do.  The perennials that we have been painstakingly growing since the spring, Lysmachia, Holyhocks, Aqualegias, Verbascum and Penstemon will soon be ready for planting out.  The biannuals, Honesty, Sweet Rocket, Sweet Williams and Wall Flowers, are looking really healthy and have recently been potted on and hopefully they will be ready to plant out in about six weeks or so.  After a recent visit to Knightshayes, a National Trust house near Tiverton in Devon with the most amazing wall garden I have decided to also grow a different Sweet William called ‘Sooty’ for next year!

The edible flower cutting patch in mid July

The edible flower cutting patch in mid July

We are now getting to the end of July and sadly some of the cutting patch flowers are now over until next year but there is still plenty of flowers to enjoy. The Gladioli which we planted as bulbs at the end of February are flowering as well as the larkspur, cosmos, purple phlox and antirrhinums.

Gladioli 'Brescia'

Gladioli ‘Brescia’

Antirrhinums 'Circus Clowns'

Antirrhinums ‘Circus Clowns’

Cosmos 'Polidor Mixed'; Mixed Calendula and Phlox 'Moody Blues' make a stunning combination

Cosmos ‘Polidor Mixed’; Mixed Calendula and Phlox ‘Moody Blues’ make a stunning combination

August 2016. This year I planted two different varieties of Rudbeckia in the flower cutting patch, Rudbeckia ‘Irish Spring’ and the slightly taller and bolder Rudbeckia ‘Gloriosa Daisies’. These beautiful splashes of bright orange and yellow add much needed colour and life to my cutting patch now that most of the annuals are over. They look lovely next to the sunflowers which are still going strong and also the orange cosmos ‘Polidor mixed’ and Crocosmia.

Beautiful Rudbeckia 'Gloriosa Daisies' adds a welcome splash of colour

Beautiful Rudbeckia ‘Gloriosa Daisies’ adds a welcome splash of colour

We have been busy planting out the biannuals, the Wall flowers, Sweet Rocket, Honesty and Sweet Williams. We have also planted the perennials that we have grown from seed this year, Lismachia, Verbascum, Delphinium, Hollyhocks and Penstimon. The Aqualegias and Lupins will also soon be ready to plant out.

Young Sweet Rocket and Wall Flower seedlings ready for planting out

Young Sweet Rocket and Wall Flower seedlings ready for planting out