With regular updates on how the cutting beds are faring I shall soon be running out of cutting remarks for my titles! In the meantime, there has been considerable progress and the first blooms were cut from these beds for Monday’s vase – godetia, antirrhinum and amaranthus. To remind you of what was planted, here was the original planting scheme – not planned in advance, but drawn up once I had seedlings ready to plant out!
Starting from the bed shown in the top corner, look at how much growth has been made since early June (top left), with mid month shown top right and today below. This year I have tried to remember to feed all the beds every week or two with comfrey tea, which I trust will make some sort of difference.
I must have only just planted the dahlias out at the start of June as they are not evident at all in the first picture and I remember thinking I ought to start them off earlier (if I lift them, that is) in the future – but look how much they have grown in just a month, with the first buds already developing! Elsewhere in this bed Cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’ is getting bushier and flowering generously, clary and alonsoa are just showing colour, and there are nice fat buds on dwarf sunflower ‘Choco Sun’. You can just see the sweet peas along the fence some having been in flower since early May.
The dahlias in the next bed are just as leafy, the best being a Bishop’s Children seedling sown three years ago. Marigold ‘Durango’ has been blooming for a number of weeks (more on them later) and buds on Rudbeckia ‘Irish Eyes are’ just beginning to open on the somewhat leggy plants. Antirrhinum ‘Admiral’s Purple’ has produced bushier plants (having been pinched out) and there are several flower spikes to follow those cut for the vase.
I stood on a stool to take today’s photos to try and show the beds from ‘above’ which has resulted in some slightly odd views along with the interesting shadows. In the corner bed the sunflowers have their first buds and there are some delightful dark poppies which have appeared in a neat row on the left – I sowed some dark ones two or three years ago but they did nothing so I wonder if there were dormant seeds in the compost. Very pretty but of course they don’t last long. Cosmos ‘Xanthos’ is also bushing out and flowering well but like ‘Candy Stripe’ has not grown very tall – and I am still unconvinced by the colour! The red amaranthus here is still regularly adding a few inches to its stature and to the length of its furry tails.
The fourth bed always seems to produce the most lush growth, although blooms are still limited. The first blue of the larkspur is now evident, the cornflowers are just about there and the first godetia blooms are out – and the bloomin’ marigolds are blooming… There was also a single flower on annual Dahlia ‘Dandy’ which I cut for Monday’s vase but gently shook it to remove pollen beetles – and somehow decapitated it!
In the greenhouse the Winter Sunshine sweet peas are still blooming but I am getting close to taking them out as my tomatoes are suffering and desperately need the space the sweet peas are occupying! Next year I shall grow the sweet peas in large pots so they can be grown under the ridge of the greenhouse where there will be greater height, where they can be accessed from all sides to cut them and so they can be moved outside once frosts are passed. They have also begun to suffer from what I presume is a kind of mildew and stems are getting increasingly shorter – I will give them another week or two at the most!
I realised after my last update that I had not mentioned any failures or disappointments, and I wouldn’t want anyone to think it has all been plain sailing. All the Viola ‘Cool Wave’ that did so well the previous year succumbed to aphids after excellent germination and good growth last autumn and the whole batch was lost. Two batches of coleus germinated but then failed to thrive and three different shades of lisianthus (eustoma), much admired in the Monday vases of several US bloggers completely failed to germinate. Perhaps I would have had greater success if I used a propagator but the seed was expensive and I don’t want to risk it again so will source plug plants next year. Annual lupin ‘Sunrise’ and perennial monarda and liatris each only produced one seedling each which have limped through to planting out stage. Late bought tithonia seed only produced two seedlings – but these appeared very quickly and this is the only seed I suspect was not up to scratch – apart from my Tagetes ‘Paprika’ which at 3 years old was no longer fresh enough to produce the goods, although germination of other seed from last year was good and I shall use this as my cut off point.
And Marigold ‘Durango’ (Red, Tangerine, Lemon Zest) – why did I buy this seed? Something must have attracted me to it but I am not sure what – perhaps I was expecting something taller. The first batch, autumn sown, was gobbled up by slugs as soon as it was planted out and the second batch survived marauders and has been flowering since early June but somehow seems a bit pointless and smells a bit well, ‘marigoldy’. I shall not be growing it next year…
It has proved really helpful to share cutting bed experiences and we have learned so much from doing so – so watch out for updates from other bloggers and do share your experiences too.