The last two weeks have brought a couple of inches of rain, ending the dry and hot spell the garden had endured for the previous month or so and bringing huge changes in the borders. Compare the above cutting bed with the photo on the left, showing it two weeks ago – growth has been rapid, foliage has become more abundant and buds have swelled. And the contrast of green against the dark moist soil is more apparent too, making the beds look neat and tidy, enhanced by the paths between them which I have recently cleared of moss and weeds in preparation for the visitors we are expecting on Sunday. Even the dahlias, which seemed to be dragging their heels, have come on a bundle:
The other cutting beds are also looking poised for action:
The zinnias were planted out over the weekend, so everything is now in that should be and I am just awaiting a profusion of blooms. Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ and ‘Candy Stripe’ are leading the field, although I am not yet sure how much I like the former, even if it is meant to be Flower of the Year 2016 according to Thompson & Morgan:
Both versions of amaranthus are flowering, but as in previous years the plants and blooms are still tiny:
Two things I didn’t need to sow this year are useful foliage plants bupleurium and Briza maxima which I am hoping can be relied upon to reappear year after year, both here and in the special snowdrop border where they were included for summer interest:Sowing successes not included in the cutting beds are the Californian poppies, and although I hoped that Ivory White and Red Chief would self seed they don’t appear to have done so; this year they have joined by the more typical orange one and ‘Purple Gleam’ which is gleaming in a shade of pale pink rather than purple whilst a fresh sowing of Red Chief is not yet flowering.
I showed Antirrhinum ‘Twinny White’ in yesterday’s vase, one of many sturdy seedlings covered in buds like its ‘Twinny Rose’ cousin (below left); although short, this has proved to be a great variety that is easy to grow. Also easy to grow and which I hadn’t sown before is osteospermum – I wanted something with white blooms that would flop over the sides of the new walls by the widened path leading away from the house so gave O ‘Sky and Ice’ (below right) a try. They were sown at the end of February, germination was excellent and plant growth rapid, enabling the seedlings to be planted out barely two months later at the end of April. The first buds are just opening now and will fill those two beds nicely.
It is really beginning to feel as if all the seed sowing, pricking out and potting on, started at the beginning of February, has been worth it and is on the point of paying dividends and I am beginning to remember the relative abundance of blooms in the cutting beds last year. I learned such a lot from my initial forays into dedicated cutting beds so am hopeful that this year will be even better; it is not a large space and shows what can be achieved with packets of seeds, a few dahlia tubers and a bit of time and attention. I am still learning, however, and have learned such a lot from fellow bloggers who are at various points on the same learning curve – watch out for update posts from them too.