Leading to a Question

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.

IMG_6096As 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.

IMG_6097The 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 Oct.cuttingamaranthus, 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.

IMG_6092There 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:

cutting.oct2So, 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.

anemonesSo, all my helpful blogging friends out there, please can you share your suggestions on how best to plan for a healthy crop of Anemone de Caen blooms at the end of April …?


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16 Responses to Leading to a Question

  1. Christina says:

    Planting for a particular moment is fraught with difficulties! especially so early in the season; maybe tulips would be a better option, you could refrigerate the bulbs and then plant in pots in the greenhouse, 12 – 14 weeks after planting seems to be the recommended time, although I didn’t time mine last year so I can’t confirm this. Or some Paperwhites which seem to be very reliable in when they flower after being planted, but refrigerated before planting. I love the idea of Anemone but mine flower when they will, so not very useful for a wedding. Julie might be more helpful as she did a wedding last year, maybe email her as I’m no sure she’s looking at blogs at the moment.

    • Cathy says:

      I am also a little dubious because of my lack of success with A Sylphide but Sarah at Homeslip has already inspired me to try those again, so I feel brave enough to try the de Caen – needs to be red, white and blue though and these are what I have in my head so I shall take the challenge (and go down the silk route if all fails)! Thanks for the tulip and narcissus suggestions though – slightly more predictable in their flowering habits too 😉

  2. Brian Skeys says:

    My thoughts are with you doing wedding flowers, having helped our youngest daughter do flowers for some of her friends, I know how stressful this can be!

  3. Amy says:

    I will have to keep an eye on this thread as I’m thinking about trying de Caens myself, though probably not this year! Best of luck – at least they go on blooming once they start 😉

  4. I can see why you’d like to use anenome de Caen, they’d be gorgeous. Maybe go for them and have a plan B – Christina’s suggestion sounds like a good one, paper whites would be lovely too. Good luck, what an exciting project.

  5. croftgarden says:

    You might think about planting some Muscari, they would make some beautifully scented, delicate posies. They’re fine in pots which would make flowering a little easier to manipulate.
    Cloudeberryflowers grows flowers in her cuttingbeds for weddings, so you might pay her a visit.

  6. Cathy says:

    I wish you lots of luck with the anemones – I can picture them well! I think a few forget-me-nots for the pure romance of them would go nicely too.

  7. Anna says:

    What a compliment for your daughter to do her wedding flowers. You must be chuffed. Oh I can’t offer any advice when it comes to anemones Cathy as I’ve never tried to grow them but wish you all the best if you decide to have a go. Funnily enough my order from Peter Nyssen arrived last week and includes anemone ‘Sylphide’ which I’ve seen and admired on various blogs 🙂 On dahlias I’ve been reading recently that the best plants come from cuttings so I’m going to experiment next year.

    • Cathy says:

      Not really a compliment, though Anna – I think she realised that my involvement would otherwise be pretty minimal! But yes, she knows I would make a good job of it (and that given the chance I would have had a budget wedding and made everything myself!). Growing the flowers will be a real challenge though as I have not had any success with A Sylphide 😉 Not sure if I will be joining you on the dahlia cutting challenge – but we’ll see…

  8. Julie says:

    I have only just seen this post Cathy so sorry for not commenting earlier. As has been said above growing flowers for a specific date is fraught with difficulties and although silk flowers are an option there is nothing like the real thing. My suggestion is that you go ahead with successional sowing of the anemones but have a reliable back up – how about red white & blue sweet peas grown in the greenhouse? I have just checked and the Owl Acre Winter Sunshine range comes in scarlet, navy blue & white. If you got those going now and planted them in large pots in your greenhouse they should be in flower for late April. I have checked my blog and can see that I had plenty of sweet peas by 27th April last year, so I expect they started flowering a week or so before I posted them in a vase. I would also suggest that you grow some pots of anemones under cover in the greenhouse as well in case of a cold winter. Lilac should be in flower at the end of April – white lilac would make a nice filler in the brides bouquet. Also forget me nots should be in flower and would make a very pretty posy if the anemones do not behave.

    Thank you for posting about your cutting garden again Cathy & I am so sorry that I had to miss my post last month. I think Christina is right – we should make records even when there is nothing much to report as it is very handy to be able to look back and see how things looked. I will be posting again at the end of November although doubt there will be any flowers outside – hopefully I will have some flowers to cut growing in the greenhouse though so the two reports might overlap a bit this month!

    • Cathy says:

      Thank you for replying to this post Julie – what a brilliant idea the sweet peas are. I would feel more confident of having these ones in bloom for a specific time than the anemones – I already have the navy blue one, planted last month, but have ordered scarlet, white and mid blue (two packets of each). When did you sow yours last year? I might stagger the sowing slightly to make sure of having some in bloom at the right time. I had already ordered some de Caen and also red tulips and white narcissi, so hopefully I will have various options. You are right though, that silk flowers would not be the same – and it would have grieved me to have bought them knowing I could have grown something appropriate myself. Thanks again!

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