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 a quick and easy way to grow flowers for cutting.
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 almost essential in an annual cut flower garden. As long as you keep picking them, and don’t allow any seeds to form, sweet peas will produce richly scented flowers from early summer, right through until autumn. The rest of the space will be filled with vivid blue and deep purple cornflowers, jazzy orange calendula ‘Indian Prince’, lime green dill, beautiful white and pink cosmos, deep blue nigella, pink scabious, and a dark red and a sandy beige rudbeckia. I’m going to squeeze in some sunflowers too, if I can. 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 some of my favourite seed retailers).
Probably the easiest way to decide what to grow is to look at the some seed company websites. There are lots of pretty pictures to tempt you, and plenty of information to help you in deciding what will fit in your patch. Write a list of the flowers that catch your eye (use the list of easy to grow annuals that make good cut flowers below to help). Then draw up a plan of your patch and sketch out where each plant will go – use the recommended planting distances to work out how many of each you can fit. Then you can write a shopping list and start ordering seeds and/or plants. Seeds are better value and usually give you a wider range to choose from. But if you are short of time and only need a few plants, it’s a good idea to buy seedlings – the Sarah Raven website is especially good for these (see below for link).
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 annuals for a cut flower garden
These are all really easy and produce lots of flowers. I’ve listed the varieties that I like to grow.
Sweet pea : 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.