The pick of the bunch: the joy of cut flowers
- Credit: Archant
Gardening columnist Debbie McMorran loves to pick and display flowers sourced from her garden – as does her young daughter...
It's an almost daily conversation that I am now finding myself having with my two year old: "No! Don't pick that!" But of course it's very difficult for her to understand why we would pick some flowers in the garden, and not that particularly beautiful and brightly coloured one that she was just reaching for.
I found myself thinking about why there are some plants that I feel have to be left to grow and be looked at in the garden, and others that I am happy to pick. I think I have settled on the reason that some of my planting is for structure, and is thus needed to stay where it is for the impact of the view that we have from the house - for example, there is symmetry in the way that I have planted my starburst alliums on either side of a path.
Of course there are no end of reasons why one or more of them might not have come up, but having done as well as they had, I certainly had no intention of picking any and ruining the symmetry - sadly, she had other ideas.
Aside from the plants that are there for their height or their ground cover, there are the cottage garden plants; those which look glorious in the border, but that would only last a matter of hours after picking. They will give colour and interest in the garden for quite some time, but picked and put in a vase, they will simply wilt and die, thus making it a terrible waste to pick them.
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That said, my mum often picks huge bunches of flowers from the garden to make a really impactful bouquet in the house. Within a day or two they are dropping seeds, but they do look incredible for a short time, and if you have an abundance of flowers then there is no reason why not!
The final category is of course the flowers that you grow specifically with picking in mind. If you have a small garden, or a garden where it is all in view from the house, you might find that it is difficult to designate a whole area for cutting flowers. An area such as this might be wasted, and once the flowers have grown and been cut it can look quite empty and miserable.
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I love to cut flowers from plants that will continue to produce more blooms. We have a small rose garden at home, where the roses look glorious all flowering alongside each other, but as they are all old English style roses, they don't withstand the wet weather particularly well, and I can't bear to see the dropped petals all over the ground following any rain showers, so I have been picking and enjoying them in the house.
The scent is wonderful when you fill a vase with the different varieties, and I'm not at all sad to be taking them from the garden to be enjoyed in the house - they also tend to last a good few days.
We are very lucky in that we have a patch of garden that lies behind an area of fruit cages - screened as it is by raspberry bushes, we are able to plant a decent sized patch of flowers for cutting.
At the moment it is entirely full of sweet Williams. I feel as though I have been cutting them for days, and each time I go down, there are still bunches and bunches to be cut.
I always feel that it is a simple pleasure to be able to walk around the garden with a pair of secateurs and a basket, gathering bunches of flowers. I like to send any visitors home with a bunch of something from the garden, and I've currently totally run out of vases in the house, as each room is adorned with flowers from the garden.
It also saves me huge sums of money. Being totally powerless to resist buying cut flowers when I see them, I try to avoid going past florists' as much as I can - but at this time of year, to be able to cut bunches of peonies from the garden, when they cost about a fiver for four stems in the supermarket, seems very satisfying! If you can bear to wait for next year to enjoy them, think about buying yourself a plant this year, to enjoy the flowers for cutting next summer - you'll save yourself a fortune in the long run!
Things to do in the garden this month
- Lawn mowing season is now in full swing, and with the warm weather, combined with the rain we have been having recently, the lawns are growing with great gusto. Keeping them cut once a week makes a huge difference to the overall image of the garden. Unkempt flower beds, or slightly overgrown shrubs instantly look much better when they are flanking a freshly cut lawn.
- Keep an eye on your use of water in the garden if you are watering plants in pots. At the moment things haven't been too bad, but I think it's always better to plan ahead and expect a hosepipe ban, or water shortage at any time. If you are on a water meter, as so many of us are now, it is always better to be water conscious (let alone how much better it is for the environment), but being smart with collecting rainwater in water butts, and being economical with the water you do use, will be better all round by the end of the summer!
- You will likely have noticed that the weeds have started to get the better of the flower beds. Keeping on top of them on a regular basis might seem tedious, but will be much easier than getting another month down the line and finding that they have totally taken over.
- If you were organised enough to plant seeds for summer bedding plants earlier in the year, you will be glad to hear that now is the time to get them into the garden and hopefully enjoy them - if you have been dutifully watering them on a daily basis like I have, you will be relieved that they can start to take some moisture from the ground.
Whatever you are doing in your gardens this month, with the lovely long days and warm evenings, make sure you are getting out and enjoying them.