A confess to a secret smug sigh of relief on one front. At least I have made a committment to what dahlia tubers I want. In some way, you have to start somewhere, and dahlias are as good a place as any. Then there are the narcissi I have planted this year and in previous ones, as well as planting the odd tulip for my Cheshire flower cutting garden.
It doesn’t let me off the hook completely mind you. In previous years, I chose my flower cutting garden seeds randomly what I liked and gave not one thought to stem length or a coordinated colour palette. Now, I’m looking to grow entire bouquets and arrangements in my Cheshire canal side flower cutting garden from the seed choices that I make so it is a little bit more tricky.
The advice I have read is never buy too much seed as if you don’t manage to use it, the germination rates decline. As heeding this sage piece of advice is proving rather challenging, and I have convinced myself this is not the case for all seeds, I have gone for another option. Seed tins in the fridge. I am sure my darling other half hasn’t noticed, well not yet.
When buying new seed for the season there is always a tension between wanting to try out new flowers or different varieties or sticking with the tried and trusty ones that you’ve known and loved in all your previous years of growing. The other major dilemma is who to purchase from although often you can only buy exactly what you want from a range of suppliers. Even in my small Cheshire flower cutting garden, I am unable to buy just from one place to get what I want. A few seed suppliers I use include Chiltern Seeds, Plants of distinction, Sarah Raven and Owl’s acre seeds but I think everyone finds their favourites.
It’s taken me a wee while but I have slowly come to understand why we’re all agonising over what flower cutting garden seeds to buy. Everyone, whether they realise it or not, and I hadn’t quite clocked it, is buying so much more than seed. What we’re investing in is the basis of what we will grow in our flower cutting gardens for this season, and beyond even. The choices of seed will completely dictate the key ingredients for much of our floral designs. We all know just how much blood sweat and tears goes into growing our little darlings so of course we’re all agonising! Then there is the matter of how many plants and what schedule of succession planting. Is your head spinning yet? Mine was until I started to think about what I was really hoping to achieve with my seed purchases.
After much thought and deliberation, here are fierceblooms recommendations for choosing your flower cutting garden seeds. This is far from rocket science, but it has sorted the wood from the trees for me.
- Play to your soils strengths – It sounds very obvious to say this but growing what grows best in your growing conditions is critical. It is no good me looking at growing grasses on heavy clay. That is an exercise in futility and a completely pointless waste of time, money and effort. Worse still, it dents your growing confidence. Now growing roses, that’s quite another thing for my beautiful rich clay.
- Grow what you love to use – Everyone has their favourite stems they like to use in their floral designs and arrangements. If you love it, others will likely too and even better, you can advise how to best to design with what you have grown-
- Plant a mixture of different shapes of flowers – Learnt at every floristry college and recently described by Floret as part of the sneak peak of her 2018 workshops. To achieve really stunning arrangements, Floret advises you need a focal, a spike, a disc, a filler and something airy that gives you wonderful movement. It is so much easier to create a beautiful bouquet when you have these key ingredients
- Discover new cultivars and varieties – but don’t change everything! That way, you’re hedging your bets on some but not your whole flower cutting garden. I think it is really important to give yourself the opportunity of finding that next amazing bloom, to explore and experiment and stay curious but not to risk and change everything.
- Think about growing perennials – it’s a very economical way to growing great swaths of them. Yes, they’ll take a few years to establish but they are so worth the wait, and in the meantime, you can substitute by borrowing from more established gardens in exchange for a bouquet or 2.
- Conduct an honest assessment of how well your flowers have grown and how well you’ve been able to use them. I am always keeping an eye out for what struggles and what thrives in my flower cutting garden. If they are commanding too much effort or have not served you well in your designs, it may be time to ditch them, however hard that feels.
- Make space for filler foliage – and grow more than you think you’ll use. It may not look the prettiest but you’ll use the lot.
- Keep an eye out for discounts. Given the quantities we’re ordering for our flower cutting gardens, often this can make a big difference to your spend.
I have slowly come to understand why we’re all agonising over what seeds to buy. Everyone, whether they realise it or not, and I hadn’t quite clocked it, is buying so much more than seed. What we’re investing in is the basis of what we will grow in our cutting gardens for this season, and beyond even.
Finally, think about saving your own flower cutting garden seeds and avoid buying it at all! My view is that it’s not possible from everything but I have managed to collect viable seed from easy things like nasturtiums, aquilegia, foxgloves and calendulas. I have even managed to save seed from my sweet peas which, in case your concerned, do grow true. Particularly for sweet peas, it was so worth the effort as by the time I had chosen all the colours of Spencers my heart desired, those packets of seed were adding up. My advice is to leave some stems to set pods and give them sufficient time to ripen. The peas need to be black when you harvest them for them to successful germinate.
So what is my specific seed recommendations for my canal side Cheshire flower cutting garden this year? Well, the ink is still drying but suffice it to say the Fierceblooms purchase will include a few packets of creme brûlée phlox.
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