This week, I have been deciding on the cut flower crops that I want to grow this Summer. I have already planted an Autumn sowing of seedlings in the tunnel, all these seeds were all purchased from Higgledy Garden . These seedlings are doing well and I hope they will bloom earlier than the winter/spring sowings. I also need to sow more of these seeds in March he as it is useful to stagger the sowing and planting out to get the longest possible growing season from each crop.
The first seeds I’m going to sow this year are Sweet Peas. I sourced my Sweet Pea seeds from Sarah Raven, picking a spectrum of pink colours. Perfect for weddings and in old-fashioned, highly scented varieties – ‘Painted Lady’, ‘Mrs Collier’, ‘Anniversary’, ‘Matucana’, ‘Lord Nelson’ and ‘Prince Edward of York’.
Sweet Peas don’t like root disruption, so I’m going to make seedling tubes from old newspaper that once the seedlings are big enough can be planted straight into the ground. You can also use toilet roll inners or even cut up egg boxes, although the egg boxes don’t allow the seedlings much growth. Basically the paper or cardboard will degrade in the soil allowing the root ball to break through and continue growing.
Zinnia Giant Mix – I trialled growing Zinnias in window boxes last year with great success and at the moment they are my favourite cut flower – they have a long cutting season and excellent vase life, you will easily get 3 weeks from a freshly cut Zinnia. The flowers of the giant variety are spectacular, huge and long-lasting. For a florist used to more traditional flowers, Zinnias can replace Gerbera very easily, but will need to be wired as a Gerbera for extra support. Some of the varieties also resemble Dahlias and others Chrysants, so they are very versatile. They can be a little tricky to grow as they are prone to botrytis, but I didn’t have a problem last year. I’ve also ordered Zinnia Elegans Envy an acid green variety that will add a pop of colour to a bouquet or work really well in an achromatic colour scheme.
Most florists will be familiar with Moluccella laevis or Bells of Ireland – these tall spikes of fresh apple-green bells are stunning in a simple vase arrangement. You need to put the seed in the freezer for a week before you sow it to guarantee good germination. So, this one could prove a little tricky and they will definitely need staking when they grow!
Cosmos are pretty and bright, and give you plenty of color for a small investment. I haven’t grown them before but apparently they are very easy to grow from seed and make beautiful cut flowers. Most cosmos are annuals, but there are perennial varieties. Popular tall choices include Bright Lights, Cosmic Orange and Cosmic Yellow; dwarf plants include Sunny Red, Sunny Gold and Lady Bird. Cosmos bloom all summer, and you can usually get a second bloom from them by cutting back the early blooms. When they go to seed, I hope to collect and save seeds for next year, who knows I might even have surplus to sell!
I have also ordered Eryngium, a funky decorative thistle that adds texture and last well into Autumn for seasonal designs.
I’ve also ordered some Dahlia tubers from Peter Nyssen who sell a wide range of bulbs online. Dahlias are a must in the cutting garden as they provide colour well into the Autumn and long after other summer flowers have died away. The more they cut the more they flower which is exactly what a grower florist desires. The Karma range have been bred specially as a cut flower variety as they have strong stems and a good vase life.
While I wait for my seeds and Dahlia tubers to be delivered, I need to turn my attention to preparing the ground. I have a lot of new beds to dig; I’m going to need lots of free labour (retired dad – tick), lots of strong tea (Punjana – tick) and some chocolate biccies (tick). Now for a baby sitter…