Definitely an Asset

There are four cutting beds down beside the working greenhouse, in the sunniest part of the garden, plus two beds with dahlias and sweet peas, and I thought I would share these  first four and their contents with you today. All grown from seed, the first (some cosmos) contents were planted out at the beginning of  April and the last (antirrhinum) in the third week in May; except for the cornflowers, all were slow to get started but made up for it by the end of May when temperatures began rising and we had the benefit of some short but regular showers. All four beds have 2 layers of 4″ horizontal netting to provide support and after a few feline incidents we added a sonar cat deterrent and a strip of wire mesh along the fenceline. The plan below shows you and visitors to the garden on our open days what was planted where:

The first photo was of the bed in front of the greenhouse entrance, seemingly dominated by calendula and clary, but there are other residents, like larkspur (my first success from seed), helichrysum (the no-name orange was not meant to grow as tall as it has done!) and an interesting mid-height, multi-branched sunflower called ‘Sonja’:

The corner bed has the taller sunflowers, with ‘Velvet Queen’ just coming into bloom, with more clary, a ‘spare’ dahlia and rudbeckia in bud. The sunflowers must surely have grown a couple of feet whilst my back was turned!

The third bed is home to the cornflowers, more calendula and rudbeckia, dwarf sunflower ‘Solar Flash’ and underperforming amaranthus, which I think will be dropped from my seed list for next year – and Antirrhinum ‘Liberty Classic Scarlet’, which seems to have taken liberties with its name…

The fourth bed is split between cosmos and zinnia. The cosmos is only just beginning to make a real impact, hindered by poor germination in a suspect compost, from which C ‘Fizzy Rose Picotee’ never really recovered, and a rogue variety disappointingly masquerading as ‘Double Click Cranberries’. In a second year of success with zinnias, I am now confident with my early sowing and early planting out regime (early February and mid-May respectively, although I would adjust the latter if frost was still likely), and can probably look forward to blooms for at least 3 months.

The cosmos is not the only cuckoo in the nest, as there seems to have been some hanky-panky amongst the calendula too, with all 3 varieties having blooms of mixed-race – although having checked my seed list ‘Indian Prince’ was the product of seed collected here last year, so a heavy sprinkling of yellow amongst the orange is perhaps understandable. I do buy some seed from eBay, mostly from dedicated seed-sellers, although even reputable companies sometimes inadvertently sell rogue packets, but will perhaps make sure I buy the more promiscuous varieties from the bigger companies in future.

The cutting beds first became a feature in 2015, so this is their seventh year, and the same realisation that I had back then is equally valid now: ‘whether I pick the blooms from these beds or not, they have brought untold pleasure by just being there’. Yes indeed, for like much of the rest of the garden they are eagerly inspected every day, every new bloom noted, every dead head snipped off (sometimes!), and much gazed upon… For me, every part of the process is a joy, from the seed sowing which usually begins at the end of January to, perhaps bizarrely, pulling up and composting the spent plants at the end of the season, with the abundance in between being part of a much bigger picture. And of course it is not just me, with others benefiting from posies picked from them, neighbours enjoying their brightness from upstairs windows, and a range of wildlife feasting on them (hoverflies having been in noticeable attendance this year)…definitely an asset, and a successful one at that.


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11 Responses to Definitely an Asset

  1. Anna says:

    Oh what a profusion of colour and loveliness for cutting Cathy. Growing from seed provides me with the greatest joy from gardening and as you say there is even pleasure to be had in the lobbing on the compost heap stage. All part of the yearly cycle. I got my larkspur to germinate only for the foliage to frazzle 😢 My cosmos ‘Purity’ has turned out true to form but ‘Cranberry Click’ sown later has still to flower so fingers crossed. There are inevitably some rogues each year but some are more annoying than others 😂

    • Cathy says:

      I am pleased to read that you agree with me about the whole cycle – including that last part!! What a shame about your larkspur… 🙄

  2. Cathy says:

    Wonderful! Yes, a lot of work is involved, but they must certainly bring you so much pleasure! My double cranberry is also single again this year it seems…. The Fizzy collection may become my new favourite as I have the white one and it is lovely. I gave up on Purity as it produced loads of foliage and barely any flowers last year. Your sage has done well, and I love the sunflowers!

    • Cathy says:

      Interesting to read about your DC Cranberry and it being ‘single again’ – are you thinking it is a reversion maybe? I also have DC Rose Bon Bon as well as the DC Snow Puff, both of which are lovely. The clary sage always does really well, and I now have white as well as blue and pink

  3. I love the abundance of everything in your raised beds, and the diversity. I’m also intrigued with the sunflowers – did you snip off their lower leaves? I thought I was brave planting a Dahlia in my (very overcrowded) raised bed this year but to add a sunflower or two – that’s truly adventurous!

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Chris – and do you know, I hadn’t thought of these as raised beds! I suppose they just had timber edges to contain the soil when I started but the levels have gradully built up, so I suppose they are! The dahlia was a spare I might otherwise have ditched, and I had a gap, but it does get the attention of S&S! I suppose these sunflowers don’t have much in the way of foliage, and the ones I grow are not over-huge, perhaps about 6 feet tall? I would be choosy about which blooms I grew on teh same bed though, somethng that was a good do-er most definitely

  4. Heyjude says:

    I admire all your hard work in creating these beds of rainbows. I don’t have many annuals and what I do have seem to be flopping everywhere this year.

    • Cathy says:

      That’s one of the advantages of a dedicated area, and the horizontal netting makes such a difference. The calendula and some of the limonium in the snowdrop border could do with some discreet staking where they flop over the reatining wall…a job for tomorrow, I think. I don’t want to put a net over this border as it is pretty long, but I suppose I could. I need to reassess potebntial contents for next year though. I really do love the whole process though, and am always eager to start sowing again in the new year!

  5. pbmgarden says:

    Gorgeous and productive!

  6. You have many of my favorites – sunflower, zinnia, cosoms … beautiful.

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