Christina, standing in for an incapacitated Julie and hosting cutting bed reviews for October, quite rightly suggests that an observation that there is not a lot to review is still a perfectly valid reason for posting. Although I considered the relative success or failure of the beds last month there probably are further things to note that I would find useful to look back on – and Christina has certainly drawn some conclusions about cosmos from her observations.
As you can see, many of the dahlias are still providing a generous number of flowers, especially ‘Karma Serena’ on the left from which I cut around 10 blooms to take to an elderly acquaintance during the week. The pale almost salmon coloured one in front of it are faded blooms of a Bishop’s Children seedling from last year, which has grown as strong as most of the other dahlias grown from new tubers – so definitely a worthwhile way of introducing new dahlias, retaining the more attractive ones to grow on in future years. I already have some mixed packets of collarette style dahlias lined up for next year. ‘Karma Fuchsiana’, the fluorescent dahlia in one of the pots, has done well but not grown as large and sturdy as those planted in the ground suggesting it is worth using larger pots. Perhaps these need to be earmarked in advance before they are snapped up by tomatoes – and perhaps the pots could be painted to add extra colour, as one of our blogging fraternity (sisterhood?) has done.
The patch of grass like seedlings towards the right of the bed are from this year’s crop of Briza maxima, making collection of seed rather unnecessary – no doubt nigella will be popping up here too – but nevertheless I have already saved seed from both these and many other of the annuals grown this year and am enjoying being able to continue crops in this way, a recent undertaking for me.
The amaranthus, both red and green varieties, are still looking healthy and their attractive ‘tassels’ have dangled for months – or to be more accurate have draped themselves across the ground. Where they have been cut they have kept their fresh appearance and colour even beyond the vase so I aim to pick what is left at some stage and keep them for winter use, along with various other less colourful seedheads.
The blue clary which was included in this week’s vase is still going strong too and I have noticed what looks like a seedling nearby – so another one to look out for next year! The ‘blue’ sweet peas shown in the vase are not the only ones still flowering as one of the plants from a mixed Spencer pack of seeds has been producing a late flush of pretty pale pink blooms against the fence here – and on a stem long enough to make them worth picking too. I don’t intend to save seeds from any other than my Purple Pimpernel variety, but I do intend to grow sweet peas all along the whole rather than only part of the fence here, designed to flower at intervals.
There are still ‘Earth Walker’ sunflowers blooming in the adjacent cutting bed, the side stems often being too short to make them worth cutting although I suppose the heads could still be cut and floated in water… I credit my relative success with sunflowers to the use of cut down plastic bottles around the base, and have used this technique to deter slugs from several tasty young perennial plants too.
The potted dahlia in the foreground is one from last year – and hasn’t performed, either last year or this. Would it have performed this year if it had been planted in the open ground – who knows? Hmm… and is it worth keeping and trying again another year – again, who knows?
Before I ask another and less hypothetical question, have a quick peep at some of the seedlings in the greenhouse (many for next year’s cutting beds), autumn sowing being well under way:
So, to the question, a wedding related one. Younger Daughter, having been tempted away from the previous plan for me to make her wedding dress by an expensive one she knew she could get her Dad to pay for, has decided instead to ask me to do her and her bridesmaid’s flowers…
She herself is ambivalent about whether the flowers are fresh or silk, and as the Big Event is at the end of April and is 60s themed with red, white and blue colours involved I found myself thinking along the lines of de Caen anemones. Naturally I would like the challenge of growing them myself and it would not be too late to buy and plant them – but getting them to flower at the right time is of course a big unknown. Buying sufficient corms to vary planting times and locations seems a good idea, with the option of going down the silk flower route at the last minute if all else failed.