17 April 2015

Flowers for cutting


This week in partnership with the Allianz Garden Show Ireland 2015’s very own Gardening Guru, Geoff Stebbings from bring you some top tips in how to grow your own flowers for cutting.

Most people love to cut flowers from the garden for the house but lots of people feel guilty about taking flowers from their borders. Personally I never feel bad about doing this because those blooms are appreciated just as much or more when put in a vase, especially when bad weather prevents us getting out into the garden as much as we might like. But it is easy to either make a cutting garden in a more out of the way part of the garden or plant a few plants specially for cutting in the border. I also mix flowers with my veg. This attracts pollinators and beneficial insects, makes the veg look better and gives me lots of guilt-free stems for the house. Growing some cut flowers is not just a nice idea and might save you money but it also widens the range of flowers in the home because most bunches sold are the same old flowers all year round, usually imported from the other side of the world. Some flowers, that include our favourites, are almost impossible to buy but are easy to grow.

My top five flowers for cutting

Achillea millefolium is a wild plant with white flowers that is often found as a lawn weed but coloured forms are sold as border plants. They are available in all colours from pink and red to orange and copper. You can buy and plant them now but they are also easy to grow from seed and will flower the first year if you sow them early. Sow now and you may get a few flowers this year but will bet lots next summer. The flat heads of small blooms are perfect fillers in bouquets and plants flower all summer.

With an infinite variety of flowers types, shapes and colours, these tender tubers bloom from July to the frosts. You may just find a few dried tubers in garden centres and these can be planted now but look out for growing plants soon too but be careful not to buy dwarf kinds that are too short for cutting.

Statice is an annual that is grown from seed. It is almost too late to sow seeds now but you may find plants for sale. They are annuals and die at the end of the season but they flower all summer. They are best known as dried flowers but cut fresh they are good for bulking out bouquets and are available in a great variety of shades.

With the daisy-like flowers in pink and red shades above feathery leaves these are garden favourites, blooming until the first hard frost of autumn. They are easy to grow and although a bit late they grow so fast that you could sow some now and still get blooms. Choose the tall types if you want them for cutting.

Sweet peas
The fragrance of sweet peas is the essence of summer and they are easy annuals to grow. They are the perfect cut flower because they actually need to be cut. If you leave the flowers on the plants they set seed and stop blooming so cutting every flower for the house keeps the plants in tip top condition. The best plants are produced from seed sown in autumn but you could sow seeds now and still get some flowers this summer.

I would not be without anemones. The tubers can be planted in autumn or spring and are ridiculously cheap. Plants produce curly leaves like parsley and send up their typical poppy-like blooms for many months that are perfect for cutting.

Lots of easy annuals are perfect for cutting and I would rank nigella (love-in-a-mist), larkspur, zinnias and marigolds among the best. All can be sown now, in the garden where they are to grow, and will be in bloom in a few months.

Roses may not be longlived as cut flowers but any bunch is transformed from lovely to really special if you include a few rose flowers. Everyone has their favourites but I tend to prefer those that are not too formidably armed and that have delicate or unusual colours and I grow a few bushes of the beautiful, pastel pink and buff ‘Vidal Sassoon’ specially for cutting.

Antrim Castle Gardens. will be bursting with colour at this year’s Allianz Garden Show Ireland, this three day festival of flowers, food and fun awaits visitors to these magnificent gardens from 8 – 10 May 2015. The packed programme includes appearances by international gurus from the world of gardening and food, including the return of special Festival visitor, Monty Don, on Saturday 9 May. As well as the thousands of plants on display, the new Food Pavilion with local food producers, local craft, tea tent and show gardens, will be fun filled activities appealing to all age groups. Live music, garden theatre, a dedicated kids zone, a garden cinema, and much more.

Next Week Geoff will share his thoughts and tips on how to feed plants

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