Growing Cut Flowers
Many of us grow our own fruit and vegetables but flowers for cutting don’t always spring to mind. Flowers sold in the UK often come at a considerable cost to the natural world: air miles, chemical inputs, demand on water supplies and poor pay and working conditions for the people growing them. Before we had flown-in flowers, gardens, allotments and local market gardeners provided all the blooms we needed – there has been some resurgence of this in recent years and more gardeners are choosing to plant a few flowers specifically to bring into the home.
There is a huge choice available and you can select flowers with qualities that are hard to come by in shop-bought flowers. The following can all be grown easily from seed:
- Lathyrus odoratus - sweet peas are rarely seen for sale but there is a huge choice available to the home grower. Combine autumn and spring sowings to produce sweet smelling blooms over a longer season.
- Astrantia major - an interesting flower from the same family as carrots. Tolerant of shadier places and flowering over a long period. They last well in a vase and can also be dried.
- Rudbeckia spp. - flowering from late summer all the way into November. Lots of cultivars are available in seasonal colours, from pale yellows, through to dark reds and chocolates with all shades of orange in between.
- Knautia macedonica – these come in lots of shades and their long stems work well in arrangements, providing fluffy buttons of colour.
With a bit of creativity it is possible to have some kind of cut flower or greenery throughout the year. Teasels (Dipsacus fullonum) and opium poppies (Papaver somniferum) are great in dried autumn arrangements and evergreen foliage like holly, laurel and euonymous can make dramatic mid-winter displays. It can be hard in spring to find flowers with long stems, so smaller vases and more interesting vessels like jam jars are perfect for small posies that can be grouped together to be equally effective as a large bouquet.