Before this post was written, I had to check back on the blog to see when the cutting beds first came into existence, and was surprised to find it was as long ago as 2014. Their creation was the result of an increased love of flowering plants at the expense of paltry attempts to grow vegetables, and a growing admiration for the cutting beds shown on other blogs, whilst their success has been directly proportional to my increased proficiency in seed sowing and dahlia cultivation.
Although they are called ‘cutting beds’, I suppose only a small proportion of blooms are actually cut, with flowers for Monday vases and for posies to give away. The unexpected bonus, however, is the sheer attractiveness of them in their own right, unlike my other borders which can be a bit haphazard at best, and their bright colourfulness, a contrast to the colour-themed borders. Also, with being emptied at the end of the season and planted to a rough plan, the plants do not compete with each other in the same way as they do in the borders and are therefore more likely to thrive.
The upshot of all this is that I spend a great deal of time just standing and gazing at them – at the abundance of blooms, their colour, their detail, their health and sturdiness, the bees and other pollinators they attract – and my heart swells with …um, pure joy, I suppose it must be. All except the dahlias have been grown from seed and in only a few months – just how wonderful is that? Nature is indeed a master at what she does.
In the bed above there are six different dahlias and sweet pea ‘Sorbet Mix’ from Chiltern seeds, the latter proving to have a rather disappointing colour range, unlike my choice of two individual varieties (Gwendoline and King George VI) on the support in the adjacent bed (below), along with a further six different dahlias. Having picked almost all sweet pea blooms from this support this morning, as recommended by Monty Don, flowers temporarily look a little sparse.
These two beds were new for this year, created by reducing the size of the fruit cage, and have already proved their worth, if only for the success of the sweet peas. It seems to have worked well having most of the dahlias together as well, rather than split between the other beds and large pots.
Moving to the other four beds, in the first we have scabious, antirrhinum, rufolfia, Amaranthus viridis, Cosmos ‘Popsocks’, pink clary, Calendula ‘Orange Prince’, Rudbeckia ‘Rustic Dwarf’, helichrysum, limonium and some leftover cornflowers:
We also have some Ammi visnaga, but the less said about that the better…
Curiously, about 30cm away in the adjacent bed there are some craspedia, grown for the first time, that are struggling too, and I sometimes wonder if it could be something to do with the soil or location of this spot. In the same bed, though, are Sunflower ‘Velvet Queen’ which although slower to mature than some years is still doing OK, Clary ‘Oxford Blue’, that wonderful overwintered antirrhinum and Amaranthus caudatus.
Moving along, in the next bed is a glorious stand of cornflower, so much the better for the netting, Calendula ‘Snow Princess’, Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’, Helichrysum ‘Silvery Rose’, Scabiosa stellata, alonsoa and Amaranthus ‘Hot Biscuits’:
The fourth bed is mostly filled with cosmos and zinnias, cosmos from the Double Click series in three different shades, and Zinnia ‘Orange King’, Purple ‘Prince’, ‘Benary Giant Lime’ and ‘Benary Mix’, with Rudbeckia ‘Cherry Brandy’ and a white helichrysum separating the two types of blooms. Success with zinnias has certainly come with experience, learning finally that they don’t like to be crowded. They supposedly don’t like root disturbance either, but that has never been an issue for my with my pricking out and potting on; time of sowing doesn’t seem to matter either as my February sowing did well but was troubled by aphids, and the second sowing did equally well, with both coming into flower at the end of June.
That’s my colourful six for today, and I shall now go over to our Six on Saturday host, Jon the Propagator, to see his – why don’t you do the same?