| British Flower Week 2017 |
Hooray for British flower week, not that we ever need an excuse to celebrate beautiful British blooms!!
We are seeing more and more British grown flowers available throughout the year and I can testify to the fact, more and more clients are wanting to embrace British grown beauties within their flower schemes.
The possibility of providing hand grown and hand cut flowers to weave through our designs was one of the reasons I decided to start my own mini cutting garden right here at home and experiment with growing not only 100% British plants, but those with a tiny carbon footprint.
Although I won't be taking large flower orders any time in the near future, I thought I'd share my own experience of growing flowers specifically for cutting here in Britain.
I had an allotment for a couple of years, but struggled terribly with the time commitments required to get it to thrive during the busy wedding season, as well as an extremely annoying Mare’s tail problem (an invasive weed) that became a constant battle.
So in February, Dan (the other half who conveniently runs a Landscape Design business) and I, designed and installed raised beds in the bottom of the garden which could be used as a dedicated space for growing flowers specially for cutting.
As we see the beds year round from the kitchen, we decided raised beds were a good solution to keeping things neat, tidy and contained from Dug (our naughty Cocker Spaniel.)
We relocated the allotment shed and green house and put in some paths to give us year round access without too much mud making it's way inside.
When it came to choosing what to plant, a lot was based on availability and reliability. As I mentioned this is all about the experience of having a cutting garden and I have learnt as I've gone along. So by choosing a range of plants friends had recommended and were easy too grow for cut flowers, I hoped I would see some good results by late spring.
I chose to grow direct from seed and made use of the green house as it gave me the widest choice of flower types and the greatest sense of achievement.
Easy to grow Cornflowers, Scabious, Sweet peas and Sunflowers have done the best as I hoped (anybody can grown these) but I've also had success with Delphiniums, Larkspur and Candy Mix! Unbelievably I bought my seeds from Aldi with the weekly shop, spending not much more than £6.00 and the results have been amazing!
So after months of watering and weeding in my pjs before and after work (a definite bonus of a garden flower plot as opposed to the allotment, but maybe not so for the poor neighbours) I am now cutting flowers!
I've learnt some valuable lessons and there are things I will do differently next year, but that's all part of the experience and learning for me.
My Delphiniums were wiped out in the recent high winds- so next year they will be getting supports and I wont be afraid to cut them more often. The poppies suffered the same windy fate as their stems are so tall, so I shall be staking and running a net over any tall flowers to give them extra support from winds and heavy rain.
I've been frustrated at how late in the season things are flowering, but I know this is because I was late sowing the seeds! (The construction of the beds and cleaning of the greenhouse took a little longer than expected!) I will sow some of my seeds undercover in October later this year to ensure I get a head start to the cutting season in 2018.
There has been some surprises too ... the seeds I sowed directly into the soil are looking stronger and healthier than those I transplanted, I'm hoping this is a testimony to the great weather we've had rather than the care I gave the green house seedlings!
My sweet peas look super strong and healthy after pinching out some of the side stems and tendrils, so hopefully all that saved energy will go into producing some amazing flowers- watch this space!
Despite some set backs and a steep learning curve, the best thing about the cutting garden (apart from the flowers of course) is how proud I am to be able to cut flowers for my own table from my own garden and incorporating the odd stem into flower schemes.
It's been worth all the effort for my own little plot of British grown flowers and I'm already excited to put all I've learnt into action for next year.
Follow my cutting garden journey #hbfcuttinggarden
Photos by Hannah Berry