Cutting Beds: the Thrill of it All

IMG_5066 - Copy (4)It doesn’t seem very long ago that the cutting beds consisted of four almost empty plots, a greenhouse full of seedlings and a retrospectively drawn plan…. But that’s the thrill of it all because by ensuring that the little gardening time I had over the last couple of weeks was spent planting the rest of the seedlings out, I can tell you (and unashamedly proudly tell you!)that every spot on this map has now been filled except the one reserved for the lupins (which were slow to germinate but are making up for lost time). Every step forward from sowing to pricking out, potting on and finally planting out has been a positive one, now just awaiting the final step forward to flowering. After the last couple of years when I first began sowing seeds again with some degree of earnestness but with very limited success due to a variety of factors perhaps you can appreciated just how excited I am at the prospect of all these plants that have been grown from seed finally flowering…. There should certainly be flowers for cutting by next month!

IMG_5067IMG_5066The first beds still includes some little aquilegia and  red antirrhinums sown last year and a white poppy which was overwintered here but may as well stay as it wouldn’t take kindly to being moved. The centaurea is far taller than I expected it to be although I have read that autumn sown cornflowers often are, so may leave it till spring next year. I am especially pleased with the sunflowers which have clearly benefited from the plastic bottle protection.

The pink in the next bed are ranunculus, another success story although the plants are very straggly – hopefully they will appear in a vase very soon! As this is the first time I have ever succeeded with them, it will be interesting to see how well they survive for another year. Against the fence at the corner of this bed are some sweet peas, a free packet of tall Spencer types, with the first sweet pea flower of the year. These were sown in November and planted out at the end of March.

IMG_5069 IMG_5074IMG_5066 - Copy (2) IMG_5066 - Copy The little corner bed looks a bit of a mess having last year’s potted tulips planted here and some new allium, none of which has done particularly well. Things will certainly look neater once the tulip foliage can be removed in a few weeks! The soil in this corner used to be quite heavy as it was imported topsoil moved from elsewhere from the garden but hopefully it is improving and will continue to do so. The empty square is home to a dahlia. IMG_5070The last bed, the photo taken awkwardly to try and include it all, also has some  Sweet William overwintered from last year which will probably be moved to a pot. Just out of sight behind the cerinthe on the far right are pots of chrysanthemums awaiting homes, which will probably have to be larger pots elsewhere in the garden as there is just no room in the ground! IMG_5071IMG_5066 - Copy (3)Dotted amongst plants in this bed and elsewhere are some late sown  Ammi majus, and there are a few other minor changes where plants had been omitted from the original plan but there has been only one failure, the Zinnia ‘Starbright’, which failed to thrive despite the relative success of the other zinnias. There are various reasons why I have grown so many different things this year – leftover seeds, trial seeds, etc – and finding space has definitely been an issue! Almost everything has fellow seedlings planted in the garden too but finding any space is now practically impossible – at least the comprehensive records I have kept this year will form the basis of rational (perhaps!) judgements for next year! Many of those of us posting a Vase on Monday have decided to start cutting beds partially because of this, so thank you to Julie of Peonies and Posies who is hosting a link with other bloggers who want to share the progress of their cutting beds – a really useful and supportive meme that we have all been able to learn from. Do pop over to her blog and have a look (and she has a giveaway this month too!).

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26 Responses to Cutting Beds: the Thrill of it All

  1. Julie says:

    Thank you for joining in again this month Cathy! It is so interesting to see the comparison between your paper plans and the finally planted out seedlings – you are right to feel excited and proud of yourself! I too have had to plant a number of seedlings in my garden beds rather than over fill the cutting beds, but it will all add to the colour in our gardens later this year. I will be interested to hear how your ranunculus fair – I planted some in the garden last year but only one reappeared this year – I am not sure why as they should be hardy. Your November sown sweet peas are doing really well – a grower at Chelsea recommended November sowing as the only way to grow sweet peas, so I think I will give it a go this year. I will be keeping my chrysanthemums in pots rather than planting them out and ‘stopping’ them in June and late September before bringing them back into the greenhouse in October for late autumn flowers – it might be worth a try with one or two of yours to see how you get on.

    Thank you again Cathy for joining in – it is lovely to be able to bounce ideas around and share our successes and failures!

  2. Cathy says:

    It’s going to look gorgeous later – and it’s really ambitious for a relatively small area too! I look forward to seeing things in your vases on Monday ..

  3. hoehoegrow says:

    What a fantastic thing to do! Very impssed by your planning too! I will be interested to see how everything fares, particularly your Tithonia Torchlight, as I am also growing these – for the very first time, and also Zinnia Hot Mix – for the first time also. I already like the Tithonia as they are sturdy healthy plants which are growing as I watch, but the germination of the Zinnias was sporadic and I only got about half a dozen usable plants.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh pleased don’t be impressed with the planning – there was none! I just grew what I fancied or what came my way and then realised I had to work out where they were all going to go! I managed to get a couple of Tithonia last year – looked stunning but I didn’t pinch them out which would have given more flowers. The Hot Mix were ‘free seeds’ and I have remembered since I posted that it wasn’t these ones but the Starlight that haven’t thrived. My germination was variable on all my zinnias too (which I gather is normal) but the best were seed left over from last year’s Purple Prince.

  4. hoehoegrow says:

    argh … big fat fingers !! Meant ‘impressed’ sorry!

  5. Impressive and organized all the way from sowing to planting. Wow. Now on to cutting and arranging. 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Honestly not organised, Judy, although certainly methodical with the sowing/pricking out etc. I am optimistic of at least some degree of success!

  6. Brian Skeys says:

    You certainly have packed the plants in Cathy, I look forward to seeing your arrangements from the cutting beds.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, well-packed in Brian, on the basis that if they are overcrowded I can always take some out. Should reduce the amount of staking required though!

  7. Sarah says:

    This is the work of an artist. I simply love your experimental and anything goes approach (carefully recorded of course) and is the secret I’m sure to producing all those wonderful vases week after week. Hopefully with you and Julie as our mentors many more of us will discover the pleasure of homegrown cut flowers.

    • Cathy says:

      Oh Sarah – thanks for your lovely comments and please do learn alongside me, as learning is what I am doing! I have already found the records useful and of course will increasingly do so.

  8. Pauline says:

    I’m so impressed with all that you have done, you must be so organised! Will look forward to the photos when they are in flower – before you cut them!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Pauline – I suppose it was a slow and steady approach, sowing seeds over a period of a couple of months, and just keeping on top of the pricking out, etc. In the past it was more hit and miss and I learned last year that apart from getting the compost and watering and feeding right (which I didn’t) regular TLC was important – no point spending time sowing, etc, only to neglect them afterwards…

  9. rickii says:

    Cause for celebration!

  10. Anna says:

    How rewarding it must be Cathy to see this project coming together. Can’t wait to see the riot of colour that you are going to be enjoying soon.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – at least this year everything looks strong and promising, unlike last year, so I think I have good reason to be optimistic!

  11. Beautiful! I know you don’t want us to be impressed….but I think we are anyway. You kept track of everything you were doing! That is a lot. And you know what you love. That is an even bigger something! Brava!

  12. Wow Cathy this is wonderful to see all that hard work pay off. And I know how much work it is. My seedlings are half in the ground (veggies) but flowers are waiting until the cold rain is done. I can tell you after growing all the pansies and violas from seed and seeing them bloom, I am loving growing more flowers from seed. And your model of keeping track has rubbed off on me as I have a notebook of what I have planted in each bed.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Donna – I am sure it is worth the small effort of keeping a record. With the pansies I couldn’t believe how easy it was and some of them were trying to bloom within a couple of months of sowing in the autumn

  13. gardenfancyblog says:

    How exciting — your dedication and work are paying off! I’m reading about your cutting garden with extra interest, because I have re-done my own this year. Growing flowers for cutting is different in many respects in the US than in Britain, so not everything applies, but I still find your growing practices and plant choices of great interest. I can’t wait to see photos of the lovely bouquets you will harvest! -Beth

  14. Christina says:

    You are certainly packing the plants in! I’ve been growing in rows because of the irrigation tubes but actually I think that blocks of most flowers is more useful and easier to deal with so I’ll be changing that next year. It is so interesting to see what you have chosen to grow.

    • Cathy says:

      Yes, growing in blocks rather than rows was something I decided on last year, even after the season’s poor results, as I realised it would look more attractive that way. There was no real logic in what was chosen – some were seeds left from last year and others were random things I had seen and fancied, but it’s still a good learning curve 🙂

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