At this time of year especially after a good growing summer, the garden is so full of flowers that we can happily take plenty of cut flower for the house without reducing the floral impact of our flower borders.
It is nice to have flowers in the home all year round and there is plenty of pot plants around both for foliage and flowers, but we tend to supplement this with a few cut flowers from the garden.
To be honest it is hard to resist cutting some flowers to enjoy them around our homes. In early summer there may not be a huge surplus of blooms to choose from but in August and September we are spoilt for choice.
As a gardener I like to create a great floral impact and not wishing to lose this by cutting flowers for the house I use space on my allotment to grow plants specifically for cut flowers.
Thus I have my dahlia collection, spray chrysanthemums, sweet peas, gladioli and now this year my oriental lilies. I have only recently seen the benefit of these when a few stems broken off after the early August gales found their way into some vases and suddenly the house was filled with an exotic perfume for a fortnight.
However it will be next year before I get the chance to increase my stock of lilies with some purchase of new bulbs in the autumn.
Sweet peas have been available from early summer as the warm weather in May got them off to a great start. I grow mine up a six foot support of weldmesh, and let them grow at will.
This gives plenty of flowers for display as well as cut blooms, but if I just wanted cut flowers then I would train them as single stem cordons and remove all sideshoots and tendrils. Growth would be supplemented by feeding fortnightly and before planting the area would get double dug in winter incorporating plenty of compost. Sweet peas are gross feeders and respond to well rotted compost, manures and fertilizer.
Gladioli are grown on my allotment plot in a double row in good soil where the corms are planted at least four inches deep, then they are usually self supporting in a normal year, but the August gales put that to the test.
Every year I add a few extra corms to increase the range of colours. In late summer the plants get dug up and dried off so the corms can be stored safely over winter. The small bulbils removed during the cleaning up stage before storing are usually discarded unless they are a decent size.
However if you want to increase stock of some favourites these bulbils can be retained and sown thickly like peas in a six inch wide row to grow and bulk up. They will become flowering size in two to three years.
Chrysanthemums make great cut flowers and last a fair time in a vase, and they flower over several weeks from August till October in a good year depending on variety. Spray varieties make excellent cut flower stems with impact but if you want bigger heads then go for decoratives and grow one flower per stem by disbudding leaving the top bud only to grow and flower.
There are numerous varieties available so keep trying out new ones to find your own personal favourites. One of mine is Pennine Ice, a white spray that always impresses with its purity.
Dahlias provide a brilliant splash of colour in any border and there is always plenty of flowers for cutting for the home. We all have different preferences and mine has always been the cactus shaped flowers as they are not too big so stand up well on the bushes.
Wee jobs to do this week
Most summer strawberries have finished fruiting so now is a good time to cut off the old leaves and remove the straw, both of which can go on the compost heap. Strawberries can be cropped for two or three seasons then they should be discarded. If the rows have plenty of healthy runners then these can be used to start a new strawberry patch on a fresh area of soil that has been well manured and is weed free. Otherwise buy in new runners especially if you wish to try a different variety.