Home grown flowers
Picking flowers from the garden is one of life’s simple pleasures and now that it’s late summer there are plenty of blooms to harvest. I don’t make large bouquets – the sort of thing I would buy from a florist – but instead I pick just enough to fill a small jug. I like the look of these posies which are a snapshot of the garden at that point in time, and they also mean there are plenty of flowers left in the borders for the bees and butterflies to enjoy.
I also have a collection of glass bottles that I have picked up from flea markets, antique markets and second hand shops over the years that make wonderful bud vases, with necks just big enough to hold one or two stems. I love to arrange these in a cluster on a table or shelf. It ends up looking a bit like a deconstructed arrangement where you can appreciate the individual flowers more easily than if they were all gathered together. It’s also really useful if you don’t have much time to faff around creating an arrangement – simply pick and pop them in the bottles.
Dahlias are coming into their own now and they are one of my absolute favourite cut flowers. Most of the ones in my garden, apart from the maroon-coloured ‘Karma Choc’, were grown from seed that was given to me by a very kind gardener when I was on holiday in Ireland several years ago. The plants have become a firm fixture in the garden borders, and rather than lifting them to store them over winter, I took a risk and left the tubers in the ground. They have now spent three winters in the soil and have so far survived the winter wet and cold here in Yorkshire. Every year I buy a few extra dahlia tubers to grow in containers – this year it’s ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘Schipper’s Bronze’.
Flowers and Foliage
Chrysanthemum segetum, the corn marigold, has made a pretty plant this summer. It was very easy to grow from seed in spring and hoverflies have loved it. It also lasts really well when picked, so it’s definitely one I’ll grow again. I also like picking the flowers of nasturtiums. They’re not a typical cut flower because the flower stems are really short, but they fit perfectly into my little bottles. The odd weather this year – a long, cold spring followed by a heatwave and drought and then a very wet and cool July – meant it took the nasturtiums a while to get going and they’ve produced a lot more foliage than flower this year but I don’t mind that too much as the think nasturtium foliage is really pretty. The rounded foliage, known botanically as peltate, reminds me of water lily leaves.
August brings with it a new crop of flowers with the unfurling of asters, helenium, rudbeckia. All of these last at least five days when picked. Not all flowers will last as long, but the good thing about growing your own is you can experiment.
Om Louise Curley
Louise is a horticulturalist, garden writer and author of the award-winning book The Cut Flower Patch. She’s passionate about the power of plants to make us feel happy and is an advocate for organic gardening and encouraging wildlife into gardens.Get to know Louise Curley
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