We’re going to start by focusing on annuals in the Jam Jar Cut Flower Garden. Annuals germinate, grow and flower all in one year, so they are pretty much the quickest and easiest way to start a cutting garden.
I’ve drawn up a plan for my patch, a border that’s 1.2m x 2.5m. I’ve deliberately kept the width of the border to 1.2m because this allows me to reach to the centre without having to tread on the soil. At one end there will be a tepee of sweet peas. These are one of the best plants to add to your annual cut flower garden. If you keep picking them and don’t allow seeds to form, sweet peas will produce flowers from early summer, right through until autumn. I’m filling the rest of the space with vivid blue and deep purple cornflowers, jazzy orange calendula ‘Indian Prince’, lime green dill, beautiful white cosmos, and blue, pink and white nigella. I’m definitely going to squeeze some sunflowers in too – probably the lovely ‘Earthwalker’ or pale yellow ‘Vanilla Ice’. All these are really easy to grow from seed and widely available (see below for links to tried and trusted seed retailers).
Probably the easiest way to decide what to grow is by looking at some seed company websites (see below) or flicking through gardening magazines. Write a list of the flowers that catch your eye – everything you’d love to grow… you can always cut the list down to fit the size of your patch. Then draw up a plan of your cutting garden and sketch out where each plant will go – use the recommended planting distances to work out how many of each you can fit. With the plan made, you’re ready to draw up a shopping list and start ordering seeds and/or plants.
The next few weeks will be a busy time, sowing seeds to produce sturdy plants and lots of flowers in the coming months. Next time we’ll talk about how and when to sow… have some pots and compost ready!
Easy to grow annuals for a cut flower garden
Sweet peas : my favourites are ‘Chatsworth’ – pale purple, ‘Mollie Rilstone’ – pink, and ‘Cream Southbourne’ – white, but there are lots to choose from.
Cornflower : ‘Blue Boy’ / ‘Blue Ball’ – blue, ‘Black Ball’ – dark, deep purple.
Nigella : ‘Deep Blue’ – dark blue, ‘Miss Jekyll’ – pale blue.
Cosmos : ‘Purity’ – white, ‘Sensation’ – pink.
Sunflower : ‘Earthwalker’ – chocolatey brown flowers, ‘Vanilla Ice’ – pale yellow with a brown centre, ‘Valentine’ – lemon yellow with a dark brown centre.
Rudbeckia : ‘Sahara’ – soft, orangey beige flowers, ‘Cherry Brandy’ – deep, dark red, ‘Irish Eyes’ – golden yellow petals with a green centre.
Dill : ‘Tetra’ – good for its yellow flowers and for foliage.
Scabious : ‘Tall Double Mixed’ – a good mix of pinks, dark purple and white, ‘Back in Black’ – deep purple.
Snapdragon : ‘Appleblossom’ – pale pink, ‘White Giant’ – white.
Calendula : ‘Indian Prince’ – zingy bright orange, tinged with dark red, ‘Art Shades’ – more subtle shades of orange and apricot.
Where to buy seeds