First steps in floral growing your own

Our Cut Flower Garden is only a few months old, but the range of colours and shapes on show is a terrific sight

View across the Cut Flower GardenLast year, we decided to have a cut flower area in the ground between the Model Gardens and the Hilltop Borders. It is a patchwork of beds that had housed several gardens over the years. You may remember the Bonsai Garden, but when that collection was moved to the Bonsai Walk, the area became part of the tulip display for spring 2014. But although that proved a colourful and popular event, it was only ever intended to be a one-off.

Last winter we began by adding bulbs of hyacinths, daffodils  and tulips. The tulips were some of those saved from the previous year’s display. In early spring we  replanted some of the previous year’s perennials: Knautia macedonica, Gaura lindheimeri ‘The Bride’ and the vibrant Echinacea ‘Cheyenne Spirit’.

New perennials were also added such as peonies and chrysanthemum. In early summer, the annuals grown by Wisley’s propagators were transplanted. 

While most plants have made a contribution, some annual varieties proved spectacularly successful especially Cleome (spider flower), Limonium (statice), and Zinnia. Some haven’t been entirely happy partly due to the weather. Sweet peas and Knautia both succumbed to powdery mildew. We also needed to keep a careful eye out for red lily beetles which can decimate lily plants very quickly.

lily beetlesAs summer begins to move towards autumn it's time for assessing what to grow again in the cut flower garden and what to leave out next year.

I've also made the classic mistake of many cut flower beginners in concentrating too much on dramatic but short-lived flowers and not enough on ‘cut and come again’ plants or background greenery. So next year you can hopefully see a wider range of plants and more succession planting to provide flowers over a longer period of time.

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The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.