My Sweet Peas have been a disaster this summer. The wet weather has not given them a chance and we miss coming back from the allotment with the multi coloured bunches to fill vases and scent the house. They are the best of annual climbers for cutting!
Although our garden is full of colour throughout the year, it is always nice to bring fresh flowers into the house. Seeing them up close gives me a chance to appreciate their finer points. Although they have been picked, many blooms will probably last longer inside than in the garden with the awful weather that we have been having over the last few weeks!
Of course, there are the mainstays of arrangements which include Ladies Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) with sprays of tiny lime green flowers that seem to go with anything, and Pinks (Dianthus) with their long lasting flowers and sweet scent. But as well as these, there are a host of perennials that look as good in a vase as they do in the border! Coming into flower soon, and a favourite in Mrs McGregor’s cutting garden, are the Rudbeckias (Cone Flowers) with their bright gold daisies that have a velvety brown cone to the centre that remind me of a cat’s nose! Another daisy that lasts well in water is Leucanthemum ‘Aglaia’, with shaggy white petals and a large yellow centre. Leucanthemum grow well in a sunny site and most soil types and are a long lived plant in the garden. If the clumps get too large, I dig them up in the spring and divide them into smaller sections. We have it in several places to give height to summer borders. These bold flowers look good with other big flower heads such as Buddleja and Hydrangea.
Yarrow (Achillea) is easily raised from seed sown in the spring. They will flower in the first year of growing and this spring, I potted up individual seedlings from a seed mix, to see if we would get any unusual colours worth planting out in the cutting garden and growing on for future years. I soon found out that as well as the flowers being attractive to a variety of insects, including Hoverflies (whose larvae eat huge amounts of Aphid) slugs and snails also find the leaves attractive and can strip a plant overnight! A dose of organic slug pellets soon halted their progress and the plants have grown on well. One particularly striking colour is a deep wine red, which Mrs McGregor says will tone in well with Michaelmas Daisies (Asters) and probably hold the colour well if dried for winter use.
The Sedums in the front garden are growing very lushly this year and are starting to produce flat green clusters of flower buds that will open to scented, star like flowers that the bees adore. These then dry out to russet and brown seed heads – another great addition to dried arrangements especially with a bit of gold or silver spray!