Body, soul. and gardening - growing a cutting garden

Growing cut flowers is rising in popularity.  Nurturing, picking and arranging your pretty home-grown blooms is great for the soul.  It’s also cheaper and more eco-friendly than buying flowers that have been imported.

One option is to cultivate flowers for cutting in your borders.  Include shrubs such as Pittosporum tenuifolium for foliage along with camellias, daphnes, lilacs, viburnums and hydrangeas for their blooms.  Think about planting a succession of perennials to keep you in cutting material throughout the year, from hellebores for late winter, tulips and daffodil bulbs for spring, peonies, lilies and roses for summer through to rudbeckias, echinacea, gladioli and dahlias in early autumn. And ideally include perennials with long flowering periods such as alstroemerias with their opulent blooms in deep pink to orange.   Alchemilla mollis and euphorbias are also a must for some zingy lime colour – but remember to pick euphorbia with gloves on.

If you’ve got room and time you might want to create a dedicated cut flower patch.  Aim for a long thin bed, or one with access paths, in a nice sunny patch - but even a pot on a balcony is enough to start growing cut flowers from seed.  In terms of annuals, cosmos, a half hardy annual that comes in the prettiest colours from pale yellow through to pink and chocolate – try a new one every year!  Sweet peas are another great choice.   Ammi majus, helianthus, Orlaya grandiflora, nigella, zinnia and scabious are also all worth trying.

For those itching to get going, you can start sowing your seeds undercover now.  Plant out the seedlings once the frosts have passed in late May or direct sow them then.  That’s your weekend planned!