Julie at Peonies and Posies intends to post an update on her cutting beds on the last Friday of the month and has suggested others join in with her – there may not be much happening in them at the moment but these memes are helpful and supportive on so many levels, and with several of us being pretty much novices at growing things specifically for cutting sharing our experiences will definitely be beneficial.
I have doubled the number of cutting beds here, tucked down by the greenhouse and all originally vegetable beds. As I have only ever ‘played’ at growing veg and not taken it very seriously it was no hardship whatsoever to give over two of them to develop as cutting beds a year ago. The largest one had already been subsumed when we abandoned the original greenhouse in a now shady part of the garden and located a new one in what was the sunniest part, and another went the same way last year with the second and smaller greenhouse. The remaining beds are slightly raised, with a timber edging and reclaimed brick paths.
There was a small success with sunflowers, cosmos and ammi in these two beds last year, but seedlings generally had been hampered by that dodgy compost and lack of diligence with watering and feeding – but this is how we learn and I have put it down to experience.
The nearer of the two beds currently has ranunculus corms, all showing healthy growth, and some trays of pansies grown from seed in October which I haven’t yet found a home for, such was their excellent germination. The far bed has seed sown centaurea and poppy, some of the batch being planted in borders elsewhere and some still in the greenhouse once I realised how much the slugs were enjoying the fresh poppy leaves. Inbetween the two is the first leafy batch of Paperwhites, awaiting interment on the compost heap.
The other two beds are at right angles to this, against the wall that separates this part of the garden from the rest. The one in the corner was home to some very elderly rhubarb whilst the other performed a dual role last year with courgettes, squash, orlaya and ammi. The rhubarb was kicked out and will have its own bed within the fruit cage. The corner bed now has various allium bulbs and some of last year’s potted tulips which may or may not flower again. My intention is to plant out seedlings amongst the bulbs later in the year – again, this is trial and error. The other bed has a number of refugees, waiting proper homes – a couple of tiny clematis, the hellebore Moonbeams, Sweet Williams rescued from pots, and other bits and bobs.
Reading Julie’s and Christina’s posts has made me realise that some organisation of the beds would be helpful, whether I go down a colour or height or other theme. I have the seeds ready in planting month order, so it shouldn’t be too onerous to go through and plan a rough planting scheme – a task for one of this week’s anticipated chilly days perhaps.
Cutting down? Well, the ceanothus wasn’t so heavy that it couldn’t be lifted up albeit with two hands, but it was evident that it was too heavy to ask the fence to support it, particularly as it isn’t our fence, and it has had to go. The adjacent Hydrangea petiolaris, being deciduous, is unlikely to have the same problem as its growth is far less dense. Hopefully I can find a shapely replacement for its neighbour that can be trained across the fence and kept in check whilst still a youngster, but in the meantime I have yet more border space! The ceanothus, the remaining frost survivor of three, was planted here when the boundary was a conifer hedge and the soil was too dry and poor to grow anything else successfully, but since the conifers were replaced with a fence there is more potential for growth and it is worth enriching the soil to do so.