Six on Saturday: the Cutting Beds

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?

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20 Responses to Six on Saturday: the Cutting Beds

  1. Anna says:

    What well deserved treasure troves Cathy after all the effort you put into sowing and nurturing all those seedlings. Is that beautiful pink dahlia with the dark leaves ‘Magenta Star’? My ammi visnaga has had mixed fortunes and I’ve just disposed of a couple of rather sad looking specimens.

    • Cathy says:

      I know I grew them all Anna, but I feel my contribution was minute compared to the effort they put in. It’s interesting that you asked about Magenta Star, as I asked myself the same question yesterday and was going to look it up! I have 3 fairly similar – Bishop of Canterbury, Happy Single Juliet and a third which I was puzzled about. Then I remembered I had an MS cutting from you – just need to check its leaves and compare them to B of C as labels are absent here…

      • Anna says:

        It looks familiar to me but I have not grown the others you mention. My MS at the allotment is a no show this year 😢 Maybe a combination of me not being able to tuck it away for the winter last year and then all that rain in February.

        • Cathy says:

          Shame about your Magenta Star – when I googled it it seems that it has a central darker ring, which this doesn’t, so I think I have probably got 2 Bishop of Canterbury

  2. GREAT SIX and AWESOME color! I hope you are well, Thanks for sharing!

  3. Love these beds. Exhuberant and joyful…

  4. pbmgarden says:

    Gorgeous. The bed featuring cornflowers is so nice Cathy.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Susie – the netting makes such a difference to the cornflowers and I am enjoying them hugely this year

  5. Chloris says:

    Beautiful, I love the exuberance of your cutting beds and the great thing is you can change the scene each year. The netting is a brilliant idea. Your dahlias are lovely but do try growing some from your homegrown seed,; easy -peasy and they bloom the first year. The slugs ate nearly all my zinnia seedlings this year.

    • Cathy says:

      I did try saving seed from some of my dahlias one year, but I must have picked the seedheads at the wrong time as I failed to get any. But I will try again, I promise – any advice on the process? What a shame about your zinnias – you have a few stll, though? The netting works so well and has made a huge difference – and isn’t obtrusive as I feared. I just need to careful when I am cutting blooms!

  6. Heyjude says:

    You must get infinite pleasure out of all these beauties. I rarely pick flowers for indoors mainly because there are few places where to place a vase, but like you I like to watch all the pollinators visiting the flowers. I tried sowing Zinnia seeds directly and was astonished to see shoots appear. Not for long though. A few days later and there wasn’t a sign. Oh, well, there are lots of lovely plants out there that I can grow.

    • Cathy says:

      Ah yes, that’s the reason I only do one vase (today’s sweet peas were a necessary extra!) as I have nowhere to put them – no clear surfaces, blank backgrounds, etc etc…! 🙂

  7. Cathy says:

    All lovely, but I am especially impressed with your cornflowers. I gave up sowing them as they always seem to get mildew and be spindly and floppy. The netting is a very good idea.

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Cathy – the netting has made a huge difference to the cornflowers as mine would have otherwise been spindly and floppy too. Never a problem with mildew though…are cornflowers prone to this?

  8. Noelle M says:

    Sure a great resource, interesting to see the size of the plants, from which you are able to make such amazingly different arrangements each week.

    • Cathy says:

      It is indeed, Noelle, and looking back at my first years with the beds they have come on tremendously as my experience has grown and I have established what works there and what doesn’t

  9. tonytomeo says:

    There is no cutting garden in our garden. I do cut flowers that are behind the plants that produce them, where no one will miss them. Otherwise, I could not deprive the garden of the bloom. That is why there is no designated cutting garden.

    • Cathy says:

      And yet for mostplants cutting will increase the number of blooms – just like deadheading, but before the flowers are dead!!

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