Cutting Edges

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!

IMG_7420Starting 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.

June163-001IMG_7558I 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.

IMG_7557I 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.

IMG_7556The 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!

IMG_7555IMG_7561In 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.



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20 Responses to Cutting Edges

  1. Christina says:

    I didn’t do much better with my lisianthus (eustoma); I have 3 tiny plants, they were sown in January and I think they need 2 years to reach flowering size – as they are tender this is unlikely to happen! I can’t buy plug plants so I think I will have to just carry on admiring them in other bloggers’ gardens. Everything else in your garden did make a spurt and many things aren’t really that far behind mine. I intend trying the winter sweet peas in pots too so we’ll be able to compare notes.

    • Cathy says:

      I did notice lisianthus available as plug plants so knew they ‘could’ be grown in the UK, but couldn’t take advantage this year – could you import them to Italy if they were sent to your UK family’s address, or is not worth the bother? I was really surprised to look back at the growth over the last month – but especially the dahlias! If we hadn’t had that rain mid month things wouldn’t have been the same though, and of course I don’t know how much difference periodic feeding makes. I shan’t grow as many of the WS sweet peas for next year because I haven’t a wedding to plan for, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t do as well in pots and it will be good to compare notes

  2. Halee Pagel says:

    I’m amazed at how many plants you fit into the space available! Good on you!

  3. You are so energetic. I love the results but I am afraid I am such a slug I rarely get so many annuals out. I love the way this is filling in. It will be glorious in no time now.

    • Cathy says:

      Thnaks Lisa – it is only the last 2 or 3 years I have a made an effort with annuals and have been thrilled with the results and hugely enjoyed the process too. I don’t think I would have got to this stage if I had still been working though…

  4. Debra says:

    I so admire the planning that you do! Your garden is a delight!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Debra – but please believe there was no actual ‘planning’ involved…. The seeds were bought on an ad hoc basis when I saw something I fancied and the planting plan was produced when my plants were ready to be planted out!! 🙂

  5. Thanks for such an interesting & informative post ! I was poring over your planting plans to see what you had selected, and then was able to see how those had transitioned into real life! Also it is very reassuring to hear about the failures too! My biggest success this year has been Ricinus, which has been dismal some years, but for some reason is very happy this season. Biggest failure – tertapanax (big fat zero germination) and, interestingly, cosmos Xanthos, which is pathetic. Cosmos is usually so reliable but these, with the same amount of tlc , are all weedy specimens. Germination rates were low, growth was slow so won’t be growing those again!

    • Cathy says:

      You are welcome, Jane – as I said in the last comment to Debra, the actual seed choices were largely ad hoc although there will be some I go back to every year. Interestingly this has been my best year for cosmos germination and growth although mine rarely seem as tall as others. Having had a bad compost year a couple of years ago I do not see myself as a failure if things don’t thrive – and your tertapanax thingy sounds a bit ambitious!!

  6. Oh well done for keeping such good records. It is hard work keeping the bugs and germs at bay but when it works it is so very satisfying. Lots for your vases coming soon it seems.

  7. croftgarden says:

    I now understand the term vertical gardening, it must be the standing on the stool that has left me feeling unsteady on my feet. Great endeavour – hope you are rewarded with lots of blooms.
    Do you need the stool to cut the sweet peas? Sorry, pure envy as mine are growing horizontally!

    • Cathy says:

      Oops – sorry about that! And yes, I could do with 6 foot long arms to get round the back of these sweet peas!

  8. Love those sweetpeas peeking out the top of the glass house! And your plan is amazing. Room for everything!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Marian – the cutting beds are not big, but there is space for small blocks of several different things

  9. rickii says:

    Oh, the vases we will see!

  10. Anna says:

    I am full of admiration for what must have been a lot of sowing and potting on Cathy. I will definitely be sowing some Winter Sunshine sweet peas in the autumn. We visited Great Dixter yesterday where the refreshment area was bordered by large black plastic pots of sweet peas which were looking happy enough.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Anna – it is good to have the time to be methodical about the sowing and all the follow-ons, and that’s probably why any sowing I did prior to finishing work was only half- hearted and certainly rarely followed by pricking out or potting on! Look forward to hearing about your visits – we are away in the van for a few days. Did you use yours?

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