Cutting Beds: From Battle Plan to Art Installation

battle.plans1Some of us garden bloggers have been developing beds specifically for cutting and it has been really usefully sharing knowledge and experiences. To help us, Julie of Peonies and Posies is hosting a meme around the last Friday of the month for us to post a monthly update, so do check out her blog to see her own extensive cutting beds and links to others.

I took the risk of planting out some of my hardy annuals at the end of March and apart from April being such a dry month it seems to have been a good decision and they have coped with a couple of light frosts. Above we have sunflower ‘Earth Walker’, protected by cut down plastic bottles to leave a jagged edge at the top to deter slugs, a trick suggested by Wellywoman in her book – there has been some minor nibbling of a few leaves but the stems are completely undamaged and I think they will survive all but a major onslaught so I can recommend this tactic. On the right is sweet pea ‘Purple Pimpernel’, sown in the autumn from seed collected from last year’s plants and now happily shooting up the support. Ammi visnaga, centaurea, bupleurium and cerinthe are also fairly settled in the cutting beds and elsewhere in the garden. The cutting beds are also home to a few dwarf aquilegia until I know what colour they are, ranunculus, Anemone coronaria, tulip and allium, and some of last year’s sweet Williams.

IMG_4689IMG_4691IMG_4692IMG_4693With going away, I briefly wondered about planting out other young plants beforehand, but despite many sturdy little plants there was nothing that sufficiently developed to make the risk worthwhile, and I decided watering would be easier for my neighbour if things were together in the same place. I certainly look forward to being able to plant out many more seedlings on my return, like these Cosmos ‘Antiquity’, molucella and rudbeckia:

battle.plan2As there has been no heat in the greenhouses since February and seedlings have coped with temperatures just above freezing, a battle plan was drawn up, the greenhouses both emptied, and all trays and pots laid out side by side on the cutting beds. Would there be enough space? Yes, there was, although eight trays of the youngest seedlings were passed over the fence to my neighbour for closer attention and gentler watering.

Cutting beds-001Some rain is forecast for this weekend and beyond that is anyone’s guess, but it will be easy enough for our neighbour to water all of this bounty over the fence by using a hose. Up to now I have used rainwater on all but the youngest seedlings but again I want to make the task simple. It has been warm and dry for several days and these beds get the sun for much of the late morning and afternoon, so shading was going to be imperative. Ebay solved this issue as I was able to buy shading fabric by the metre, although slightly misjudged the length needed and had to cobble together the finishing touch by dismantling a cloche that used this same type of fabric.

IMG_4703 IMG_4704So there we have the completed plan of action, looking for all it is worth like one of those art installations where a building or  statue or geographical features is swathed in fabric in the name of Art. What will I come home to? Two empty greenhouses for a start…

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25 Responses to Cutting Beds: From Battle Plan to Art Installation

  1. Chloris says:

    You are well organised and what a wonderful lot of flowers you will have for your vases this Summer. I hope you are having a lovely time and I am looking forward to seeing where you have gone. I am sure there will be some lovely photos to see in your coming posts.

  2. The shading fabric seems like an especially good buy… thanks for alerting me to its existence! Your cutting bed is destined to look fabulous… can’t wait to see the results of all this hard work.

  3. Cathy says:

    I don’t envy your neighbour all that responsibility Cathy! Thanks for the tips about the plastic bottles… I tried something similar last year but clearly cut them down too far and the slugs just crawled over the top. I’ll try this method out when my sunflowers are big enough to plant out. And have a great holiday! 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      I think there will be some rain though so that will reduce his responsibility…! The real test of the bottles versus slugs will be in wetter weather I guess – the slugs are probably just lying in wait!

  4. I will try the plastic bottle trick too, as I have some lupines here which of course are always a blue-plate special for slugs … thanks! 🙂

  5. rusty duck says:

    That should do it! Have a good trip.

  6. Great plan, Cathy. Look forward to seeing the results. I planted a cutting bed of annuals a couple of years back and it was very successful. P. x

  7. croftgarden says:

    You are so organised. I’ve not even ordered my sweet pea seeds yet. Fortunately this far north we’re still at the daffs stage!

    • Cathy says:

      Different priorities I suppose – I don’t need to grow several months supply of vegetables. The difference in daffodil timing was very noticeable as we travelled further north

  8. Julie says:

    What an excellent idea Cathy to put everything outside and cover it with the shade fabric (which will also provide frost protection if the weather deteriorates). It is very important to make things easy for those who offer to help us and putting everything in reach of the garden fence is a perfect idea. Hopefully your neighbour likes flowers and will be repaid with your cutting bounty later in the summer. You are looking very organised and in control this year!! I hope you have a lovely break, knowing that your little seedlings will be well cared for.

    Thank you for joining in again this month!

  9. jenhumm116 says:

    Oooh the potential!
    I hope you have a fabulous break and come back to a burgeoning cutting garden.
    Lastly, just wanted to mention that I’ve now planted the Helianthus Ruby Eclipse seeds you so kindly sent and they’ve started germinating. I think the bottle idea’s a good one – I lost nearly all of my ‘Valentine’ sunflowers to slugs last year so don’t want that to happen with my precious ‘Rubies’. 😉

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jen. My Rubies have strong sturdy stems but are not as tall as the Earth Walkers and I planted a second batch a couple of weeks ago. It is the first time I have saved seed from anything so it is an exciting recycling process!

  10. Anna says:

    There’s been much strategic planning and hard graft going on there Cathy so you deserve a well earned break! Have a great time and I hope those seedlings/ young plants behave themselves in your absence.

  11. rickii says:

    I get intimidated by Julie’s extensive cutting garden, especially now, with all the tulips. You are not far behind her, but a little closer to what I might at least dream of accomplishing. I add my thanks for the plastic bottle tip.

  12. Christina says:

    Impressive Cathy! You have a lot of plants there, you will have armfuls of flowers in summer. I planted out my sweet peas this week and wish I had read your trick with the plastic bottles first. Have a fabulous holiday and I look forward to hearing all about it.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Christina – I didn’t have enough bottles to use them for the sweet peas as well but I think they are established enough now to beat any slugs when it is wetter. I am trying to remember to feed and water as well, something I neglected last year

  13. It’s such hard work, going on holiday isn’t it? I like that tip of sharp edged bottles to deter slugs. I must give it a go! You’re going to have some lovely vases, Cathy!

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