The Cutting Garden

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It’s long been a dream of mine to have a Cutting Garden; that is, a garden full of flowers and foliage purely for cutting and putting into vases. Over the last five years we’ve been slowly adding beds, removing beds, creating a vege garden, expanding the vege garden, putting in paths and walks and, ever so slowly, removing the apple orchard next to our garden. There is still quite  a lot of orchard left but we now have a new bit of garden to which we can do Anything We Like! So the dream begins…..

And the dream begins with marking out a Cut Flower Garden. It needs to be a practical design (a bit like a vege garden really) but I also want it to be somewhere with a shady spot and a comfy seat to sit and be surrounded by scent and beauty. I bought Sarah Raven’s Cutting Garden book about six years ago and loved to immerse myself in the pages of practical advice and also dreamy flower photos. I’ve also seen a fairly recent video of her Cutting garden last year and saw that it had changed considerably from the book. It appears to have been expanded even more than the 24 x 12m section! There are more beds although the L shaped beds around the sides that house the shrubs and perennials still exist. I love the idea of having lots of pickable foliage in the Cutting Garden. I think this will add height and drama and a skeleton for the winter months when the annuals are long gone and the bulbs yet to arrive. My layout is very much like the original layout from the book. The beds are quite wide but I’ll be treating them as two halves ie picking from each side so it should work out.

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It looks very bare at the moment. We’ve used weed mat to mark out the pathways and you’ll have to imagine a hedge around the perimetre but basically this is my Cutting Garden.

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The coloured posts will permanently mark out the lines of bulbs. When the bulbs die down I can plant my annuals inbetween the posts and, in the summer, the flowers and foliage will spill over into clumps and the bulbs will be left undisturbed.

Talking of bulbs, I’m Very Late to be planting bulbs but in my defense it has been very warm. So I went Ahead and Planted Anyway. Some bulbs were already sprouting so I know this may impact on the quality of their bloom beacuse they won’t have had enough of a chance to establish roots. However, by leaving the foliage on the plant and letting it die back naturally I’m hoping the bulb will get enough nourishment for the following year. I’ve planted Tulips, Anenomes, Ranunculus, Daffoldils, Muscari, Gladioli and Freesias. Planting bulbs is the ultimate exercise in optimism. Who would imagine in their wildest dreams that a handful of wizened, dry lumps will turn into blooming, fragrant, beautiful flowers. That’s the part of gardening that always delights and amazes me and makes me believe in magic.

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I’m normally a very haphazard gardener mainly because I always have so much to get done but this time I’m being methodical and meticulous and I’m writing it all down. I used string and a tape measure to keep the rows straight and the bulbs spaced out evenly.

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There’s not a lot of science behind bulb planting but when you plant ranunculus plant them with their little claws downwards. When they flower pick as many as you like as, rather like sweetpeas, the more you pick the more the plant will produce.  Here are my other Top Tips for bulb planting

Store anemone corms (and ranunculus) in the fridge 4 weeks prior to planting then soak them in luke warm water for 3-4 hours to wake them up. Anemones like the cold so don’t plant until autumn. The corms don’t seem to have a top or a bottom and luckily it doesn’t matter! Dig a 5cm trench in well drained soil and just pop them in any which way and they will figure out where to grow. Clever little corms. They will appreciate a good soaking to get their roots growing. They will then send up lots of lacy foliage and finally the flowers in spring. Cut these flowers happily but leave the foliage to die back naturally to allow the corm to be nourished for next year.

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Tulips relish a cold, cold spell so store bulbs in the fridge for a good 5 weeks before planting out. It will be interesting to see how my tulips fare because winters can be quite mild here. see the brown papery skin on the bulbs in the picture above? Remove this papery skin to allow for roots to appear with ease. Give them a good soaking.

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These tiny muscari are sprouting so I’m not expecting too much of them this year. So that’s what I’ve been up to recently and a lot of fun it was too. I have two peonies to plant out in the L shape beds and a few more foliage plants to get the garden started. Then I get to do my favourite job ever – plan for Spring! I have a feeling my list of annuals is going to be a long one……

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6 thoughts on “The Cutting Garden

  1. Looking forward to seeing your cutting garden develop over the next few months. That’s a good big area you have marked out – lots of flowers! I didn’t know that anemone and ranunculus should go in the fridge before planting, maybe that’s where I’ve been going wrong all these years.

    • I know, it was a new one on me too. I ordered the bulbs online and they have a page full of advice about bulb planting. Apparently water is key too….we’re getting rain for a week tomorrow so I’m quite happy about that! Really looking forward to getting the insect life back into the land too…..

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