April Cut Flower Round-up…

Today I have planted the final seeds for the cut flower beds, there have been a few changes to the original plans but most seeds are in now, so here’s a quick round-up.

Bed 1

  • Euphorbia Oblongata/Spurge (HA) x 4
  • Cerinth Major Purpurascens/Honeywort (HA) 2 Rows x 5 each

Both of the above are growing from last year, the Euphorbia gets a haircut in Autumn and then re-grows and sadly most of the Cerinth Major seedlings growing from Autumn were badly frost damaged but I moved some remaining self sown seedlings into the cutting patch and they are slowly growing.

This bed also contains some Spring Bulbs but I’ll photograph them next week when the tulips have opened.

Bed 2

  • Salvia Viridis/Sage – Blue Clary (HA) x 5
  • Bupleurum (HA) x 5

The seeds for both of these have been sewn direct last week, I had hoped to have seedlings self seeded from last year already on the go, but again, the harsh Winter killed them off.

  • Zinnia Elegans – Sprite Mix (HHA) 2 Rows x 5 each
  • Nicotiana Alata/Tabacco Plant – Lime Green (HHA) 2 Rows x 5 each

These have been sown in-doors today and I’ll move the seedlings into place once they have germinated.

  • Salvia Paterns/Sage (HHA) x 5
  • Antirrhinum/Snapdragon – Crimson Classic (HHA) x 5

These were cut back to the ground last Autumn and covered with a long cloche over Winter, again it looks like they have died but I’ll continue to water them and see what happens.  I will re-place them with bought plants if needed as it’s too late to sow seed for Anthirrhinum now and I’ve had little success growing my own Salvia Paterns in the past.

Bed 3

  • Calendula Officialis/Marigold – Indian Prince (HA) x 4

Seeds are in direct outside, no seedlings survived the Winter.

  • Nigella Damascena/Love-in-a-mist – Deep Blue (HA) x 5
  • Nigella Hispanica/Love-in-a-mist (HA) x 5

These did survive and are growing nicely.

  • Zinnia – Deep Red (HHA) x 5
  • Bupleurum (HA) x 5
  • Zinnia – Giant Dahlia Mix (HHA) x 5
  • Amaranthus Caudatus/Love-lies-bleeding – Viridis (HHA) 2 Rows x 4 each

All the above have been planted as seeds in-doors today, except the Bupleurum which has been sown direct.

Bed 4

  • Helianthus Annuus/Sunflower – Chianti (HA) 2 Rows x 4 each

The evil little fat Pigeons have eaten my Sunflower seedlings which were started a while back and recently moved outdoors.  I have started new seed in the Greenhouse.

  • Ammi Majus/Cow Parsley (HA) x 4

Seed has been planted direct last week.

  • Centaurea Cyanus/Cornflower – Blue Boy (HA) x 4

Yeah!  These have survived Winter and are doing well.

  • Malope Trifida Vulcan (HA) x 3

I have no seed left so have planted Dill instead.

  • Cosmos – Purity (HHA) x 3

Seed planted in the Greenhouse last week.

  • Scabiosa – Black Cat (HA) x 3

No seed left…not sure what I will put in it’s place yet.

  • Cosmos – Dazzler (HHA) x 3

Seed planted in the Greenhouse last week.

So that’s it, a quick catch-up of the raised flower beds and hopefully the start of a nice supply of cut flowers for the house over the next few months.

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March Flower Planting…

Here comes the sun and I’m loving it!  I have spent quite a lot of time in the garden recently, things are warming up so I wanted to get ahead on the flower beds and get some seeds in to germinate.  I have a raised beds, no dig system so all I have to do is make sure any roots from last year are removed and pull out any weeds.  Quite a few of the Hardy Annuals self seed so it’s worth leaving any seedlings in and seeing what they start to turn into before removing them.

So, already germinating in the kitchen are Cleome seeds (Violate Queen) that were planted last month, they are for the flower borders and are well on their way, they should help fill the huge gap I had last year towards the end of summer, I have also germinated SchizanthusDr Bager’ and I think some Malope Trifida seeds that have no label.  DidiscusBlue Lace‘ & RudbeckiaCappuccino‘ are in the greenhouse under a fancy new cloche I bought with cardboard underneath.  I bought these as a pack of 3 from Crocus and they are a bit of a nightmare to put together, I had help from Mr C, if having a 2 year old stealing your screws as you need them can be called help.  It’s really early to be attempting to germinate seeds in an unheated greenhouse be we are forecast such a warm week and with the cloche I hope to get some results.

Also in the greenhouse under the cloche I have planted for the cutting beds:

Helianthus/Sunflower)Chianti‘ x 8

…that’s it.  Hummm, I was expecting to write a nice list but that really is it.  I put Calendula Officianlis/French MarigoldIndian Prince’ direct into the ground also under a cloche and I plan to sow Salvia Horminum ‘Blue Clary’ (which usually self seeds but I can’t see any this year), Tithonia Rotundiflora/Mexican SunflowerTorch‘ for a possible gap where I should be putting Scabiosa (I have no seed and it should be germinating now) and Bupleurum for use as foliage, all in pots for transplant outside later.

There isn’t a lot for picking in the garden, only some Hellabores (Argifolius and some rather pretty Orientalis) but I am very excited to see all the Spring bulbs peeking out of the soil and can’t wait for their colourful displays, for the meantime I am happy to look at the Aricula that have survived a winter of neglect in the greenhouse and are now flowering indoors after a feed and a clean up.

Cut Flower Beds, the plans for 2010…

I sat down this morning to plan my cutting beds for 2010, can’t help but realise as I type this that I had planned to change one of the cutting beds (of which I have 4) to a vegetable bed as I grow quite a few of the ‘cutting flowers’ in my main beds and don’t have as much room as I would like for vegetables, oh well, too late now!

I started the same was as I always do, with mini prints of the planned flowers.  I will confess to being a bit bored of my cutting selection, so much so that I made very little effort last year but having done a bit of research over winter, I find that the plants I grow (mainly recommended by Sarah Raven) really are the best for cut flowers and I can’t possibly throw any seed away so I am making a point of planning early and using up my existing seeds.  The mini prints allow me to lay them out on the table and move them about until I have a good combination.  I try to keep taller flowers together, so to they can be supported at the same height, I also try to keep Hardy Annuals at the top of the bed and the Half Hardies at the front so they aren’t overshadowed as they go into the beds later in the year and the sun comes mainly from the front.

So, here they are my lists.

Bed 1

  • Euphorbia Oblongata (HA) x 4
  • Cerinth Major Purpurascens (HA) 2 Rows x 5 each

Bed 2

  • Salvia Viridis – Blue Clary (HA) x 5
  • Bupleurum (HA) x 5
  • Zinnia – Elegans, Sprite Mix (HHA) 2 Rows x 5 each
  • Nicotiana Alata – Lime Green (HHA) 2 Rows x 5 each
  • Salvia Paterns (HHA) x 5
  • Anthirrhinum – Crimson Classic (HHA) x 5

Bed 3

  • Calendula Officialis – Indian Prince (HA) x 4
  • Nigella Damascena – Deep Blue (HA) x 5
  • Nigella Hispanica (HA) x 5
  • Zinnia – Deep Red (HHA) x 5
  • Bupleurum (HA) x 5
  • Zinnia – Giant Dahlia Mix (HHA) x 5
  • Amaranthus Caudatus – Viridis (HHA) 2 Rows x 4 each

Bed 4

  • Helianthus Annus – Chianti (HA) 2 Rows x 4 each
  • Ammi Majus (HA) x 4
  • Centaurea Cyanus – Blue Boy (HA) x 4
  • Malope Trifida Vulcan (HA) x 3
  • Cosmos – Purity (HHA) x 3
  • Scabiosa – Black Cat (HA) x 3
  • Cosmos – Dazzler (HHA) x 3

So that’s it, my planned lists for 2010.  There are some self seeded Hardy Annuals already growing which I shall move into place (a good reason for keeping some of the flowers in the same beds) and I started a few in the greenhouse last Autumn, some of which didn’t make the Winter but I’ll update on this another time.  There are also only a handful of plants planned for Bed 1 as it contains my bulbs in between the rows and in the last 2 years I have found that the bulb foliage overshadows any new seedlings trying to grow.

Sowing Hardy Annuals…

A Hardy Annual pretty much lives up to it’s name, it can withstand cold weather, as opposed to a Half-Hardy Annual, which MAY survive the cold (some of mine do if I mulch them but more about that another time) and it grows, flowers and sets seed all in one year, unlike a Biennial which grows foliage one year and flowers the next or a Perennial which comes back year after year.

As Autumn has arrived, it’s time to sow hardy annuals (HA) so they can form a small plant before the weather gets too cold.  You can sow them in Spring but they will not flower as early, Autumn sowing gives them a head start and in my experience works well for my cutting patch, you can then sow replacements in Spring in the greenhouse that take over after the Autumn sown plants are past their best.  I used to start mine in small pots in the greenhouse but I mostly sow direct now, it saves a lot of energy and keeps the greenhouse free for other things.  You can just scatter your seeds in your chosen spot but it’s hard to tell what is a weed and what  is a plant as they sprout so it’s better to sow in lines/drills, the seed packets should have the ideal depth and distance for each final plant, you will probably have to thin them out a few times as they grow.  I wont go into too much detail, as to be honest there are so many good tutorials on the internet on how to grow HA and they are much better written then I could ever manage!

I find that I grow a lot of the same plants each year and most of my HA self seed, so I just transplant the seedlings to the desired spot once they are established.  My worst problem is not watering the seedlings enough, or thinning them too keenly too early and having the slugs take out the rest leaving me to begin again next Spring.  I am late planning my cutting beds but I know I will grow the following HA:

hardyannuals

  1. Bupleurum rotundifolium – Griffithii
  2. Salvia Viridis/Sage – Blue Clary
  3. Euphorbia Oblongata
  4. Centaurea Cyanus/Cornflower – Blue Boy
  5. Calendula Officinalis/Marigold – Indian Prince
  6. Nigella Hispanica/Love-in-the-mist
  7. Nigella Damascena – Deep Blue
  8. Helianthus Annus/Sunflower – Red Sun
  9. Cerinth Major Purpurascens/Honeywort
  10. Malope Trifida Vulcan
  11. Ammi Majus/Bishop’s Flower
  12. Scabiosa Atropurpurea

I sow the Helianthus/Sunflower in Spring in the greenhouse but everything else is started in September, I give a few seeds a helping hand by shaking the seed heads in the spot where I want my new plants, cover them lightly with fine soil, water and then leave them too it.  I still rather neglecting the garden, we have new school for Felix and builders working on part of the house so there is enough going on but I am worried about getting behind, I had better stop writing and get digging or I will regret it next Spring!

The garden…

We live in an end of terrace of four houses built around 1850 with the garden (about 1/3 acre) wrapping around two sides.  When we first walked up the path (about 3 yrs ago) we knew we were going to live here both because of the garden and the house.  It’s five minutes out of the village where we used to live and was very much a ‘project’, the garden hadn’t been touched for 25yrs (I am told) and although it had recently been trimmed for sale viewings by the time we moved in the thistles were head high and the brambles had taken over.  We had little choice but to get the digger in and flatten the whole lot and start from scratch.  I should also point out that we had nearly 1 1/2 yrs of builders and a second child (Charlie) whilst all this was happening. 

I claimed the corner I wanted to use for growing vegetables and cut flowers and got to work creating 8 raised beds based around a new fabulous Alton greenhouse.  This took some time and in the first year I only had 3 in use for growing  veg but by the next spring they were all up and running.  In year 1 the rabbits came in in Autumn and ate everything pretty much overnight.  This was war.  I have since fenced in the veg garden with a low fence pegged along the floor by about 1 foot so the rabbits can’t dig under.  I have planted box hedge along the front of this with redcurrant, blackcurrant, red gooseberry, rosemary and lavender which I hope will eventually cover the wire to create a low hedge.

The easiest way to introduce the garden is with some photos so here they are…

This is the day we viewed the house with the Estate Agent.

This is the day we viewed the house with the Estate Agent.

After the digger has arrived.

After the digger has arrived.

Again, during the big dig

Again, during the big dig

Creating raised beds.

Creating raised beds.

Last years veg garden.

Last years veg garden.

The garden looking good at last...and Charlie, cute as always.

The garden looking good at last...and Charlie, cute as always.