CUT FLOWERS FOR THE HOUSE
The garden flowers always seem to know that summer is just about gone but are determined to go out in a blaze of colour and glory. Everything is at its best and as yet the first frosts have not arrived, even though the weather forecasters keep warning us of winter doom every time we get a clear night. So just in case it could happen we cut a few blooms to brighten up the home. I tend to take this a stage further and grow several plants just for cutting for home decoration. On recent occasions when autumn continues well beyond its time and the winters are still delayed I have had a small bunch of roses cut for the festive table. They do not last very long, but it is brilliant to see roses at that time of year.
I grow some roses on my allotment to brighten it up and also give me some cut flowers in summer so I don’t have to reduce my garden displays. National Trust is an excellent bright red rose with great form, but unfortunately no scent. Piccadilly is great in bud, but not long lasting. Wendy Cussons is a lovely pink carmine with a terrific scent as is the white Margaret Merril.
Although there are plenty of great plants for the summer season, including sweet peas, flag iris, border carnations, gladioli, lilies and chrysanthemums, you will need some tulip and daffodil bulbs for cut flowers in spring.
Late summer is a good time to be planning well ahead for next year as the past year is fresh in our minds, and before we forget we can assess how different varieties have performed. If some varieties perform badly, don’t last very long or are just not impressive, then discard them and try some new varieties. Sweet peas for cut flower need a long stem and a good scent and it may be better to grow them as single stem cordons rather than letting them ramble up some tall support. This is a lot more work with feeding, disbudding tendrils and tying in, but the results are so much more rewarding.
Chrysanthemums come in many forms, and if you want really large impressive heads then opt for large decoratives or even giant incurves or reflexes, but they all need a lot of work and attention. However, if you just wish for a really good display of colour, then try the spray varieties, which do not need disbudding. At this time of year I go over all my varieties to decide which to keep till next year and discard any that failed to impress. I will try out a few new varieties each spring.
Gladioli are now just about all finished, but we can look back and see if we are missing any colour that would enhance a mixed display. Make notes for ordering next spring.
Carnations for cut flower can be grown in a cold greenhouse very successfully, but need plenty of light and room so do not mix well with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers or grapevines. If you can’t afford greenhouse space but really want a few carnations then grow a range of outdoor border carnations, most of which have a strong clove scent. The colour range is also very interesting, and there are always new types to try out.
Lilies make great cut flower with their long stems and exotic scent. I grow the oriental types for perfume and large upright heads, but most of the bulbs are for a spring delivery.
Daffodils and Tulips grown for cut flower can be ordered now. The best narcissi for scent are the Jonquills, large cupped daffodils and the Cheerfullness range. When choosing tulips for cut flower, get those with tall stems, such as the single earlies, triumphs, lily flowered or Darwin hybrids.
They can all be planted in good well drained soil and left to naturalise.
Wee jobs to do this week
Collect windfall apples every few days before the slugs do any damage. Apples tend to ripen unevenly so while some go ripe and fall off others hang on a bit longer. The test is to cut them in half and check the colour of the seeds. Ripe fruit has very dark seeds and unripe fruit has white seeds. Fruit that is only slightly damaged or bruised can still be used after cutting off the bad bits. They are perfect for stir fries, curries, crumbles, fried together with egg, tomato, mushroom and bacon, and keep some back for the juicer which seems to be the latest way to enjoy a healthy drink.