I have looked at this from a lot of angles. I have tried various methods. I have dithered, hemmed and hawed with the best of them.
Now I am biting the bullet.
I have made a plan for my cut flower beds.
They actually started life as my only outside beds in a sea of weeds and building construction. They have been lovely and tidy, and over run by weeds, and somewhere in between. This summer I crammed them with stuff as I bought or acquired plants. Columbines, poppies, lupins, lilies, foxgloves, cabbages and onions to name a few, all sat side by side. And it was great, when I could find them in amongst the thistles, docks and scutch grass that came relentlessly onwards. The battle against the weeds can only be fought or lost. I don’t think it is ever won. But the flowers were fantastic. I loved being able to go out and pick random handfuls to bring with me when visiting people or to sit a bunch into my jam jar/flower vase on the kitchen table. The snapdragons and sweet peas especially, gave off the most amazing scent in the evenings. I want more.
So after much reading and a lot of assessing what I have and what I should be putting with what and how much space is really required, I have as usual, thrown caution to the wind and decided to cram everything in. I tried to put order on it this time I really did. But even my attempts to visualise it looked cramped. So I gave up, scribbled it all down on the back of a sheet of paper and headed to the garden centre to pick up what I couldn’t scrounge up. Here’s the plan:
It was full of lupins, columbines, cabbages, lettuce, broad beans, sweet peas – perpetual and annuals, snapdragons, poppies, a couple of Loop de Loop irises that never showed more than a solitary leaf spearing up through the earth and one gorgeous sea holly.
I have decided to take all the veg out obviously as it’s a cut flower bed now officially. The perpetual sweet pea is at the rear of the bed and between it and all the annual sweet peas I had sown, my tepee collapsed under the sheer weight of blooms. This time I’ll leave the perpetual sweet pea in but take the annuals out and plant them up along a fence. I’m going to sow more poppies in and around the sweet pea then. I like their papery heads turned up to the sun and think it will make a nice pairing with the height of the sweet pea.
The top two thirds of the bed is already home to my lupins which are doing well. They have been such a reliable bloomer and despite years of neglect and abandonment continue to thrive, so I’ll leave them as is. My reading tells me that they pair well with Shasta daisies, irises and columbines. I have two of the three already and am on the hunt for someone to scrounge the daisies from. Thinking they might do well as a border around the lupins. I am experimenting with seeds of yellow flag irises (or feileastrams as my uncle calls them) in the fridge hoping they’ll sprout. If they do, they’ll be lobbed into the bed as well.
I am thinking though that I need some kind of ground cover to help keep weeds at bay. I am going to try nasturtiums and just let them loose and see what happens. It may be a disaster but I can always eat it if so.
This summer this bed was home to my peas, more snapdragons, dahlias, lilies – oriental and Asiatic, a peony, foxgloves, onions, cabbages, columbines and an awful lot of rogue raspberry suckers. In reality the bed is currently overflowing with lily bulbs, but they look amazing when they are in flower so they stay. I am hoping my dahlias survive the winter. Time will tell but we’ll leave them put for now as it’s been so mild. The bed looks pretty bare while I am waiting for the lilies and dahlias to flower so think I’ll sow cornflower seeds around and let them do their thing. They’ll make lovely posies and be good for the wildlife if nothing else. The front quarter of this bed is being choked with the foxgloves which have flourished so I’ll dig them up and plant them along the ditch of our
lane. Sorry avenue. They’ll be happier there under the canopy of the neighbouring woods. And my peony will get a bit more room to breathe.
Speaking of the peony, it’s in the wrong spot altogether. It’s at the front of the bed and I hadn’t really grasped how big it will grow. So, ignoring Mr. Fairweather’s ‘I told you so’ look, I’ll move it to the back of the bed. My uncle has offered to donate some primroses and I’ll under plant the peony with these and maybe put my bleeding heart in there as well. I think it’ll look lovely draping over the edge of the raised bed. Anywhere has to be better than in a pot by the door where the guard dog frequently chews on it.
Where the foxgloves and peony originally resided, I am planning on filling with ranunculus and anemones. I cannot wait for these. Really hoping they come. The ranunculus corms look like baby octopi or squid and very unplantlike altogether, but I have followed instructions and they are in soil. Fingers crossed.
Beds 3 and 4
Really a patch of ground in front of beds 1 and 2. These were home to my beautiful gladioli this summer which finally flowered after years struggling in pots and only producing shows of lovely leaves. And boy did they flower this summer. But I haven’t planted them deep enough so need to earth them up over winter. I am thinking of putting more anemone corms in with the soil as I earth it up. They’ll give some more blooms closer to the ground instead of just bare gladioli stalks. And they might help hide the wire or twine I will inevitably have to put up to keep the galdioli from collapsing again.
So there you have it. The first part of my garden plan. What do you think? Am I bonkers altogether or can I pull it off?