This year I grew flowers for cutting in various places; sweet peas among the runner beans, rows of annuals in the veg, dahlias in the rose garden and, of course, a big area of sunflowers. The sunflowers were only meant to be a stopgap, to fill the only part of the garden that had not been allocated a designation and formally changed, but they were so popular that the idea will be repeated in 2014, but in a different place.
Last year’s old sunflower plot was destined to become a designated cut flower area and work was started on this in November and took two days to get the bulk of the work done, and a few more to get some plants in – though there is a lot more to go.
The area did not have the soil improved in spring, unlike some other areas, but it did have a generous covering of manure in June after planting. Once the thick sunflower stems were pulled out, with great effort, in early October, the ground was rotovated to loosen it to make it easier to dig out the paths.
I pondered on the design of the area for some time in summer and various complicated shapes came in to my mind and popped out again. Finally I decided on a rather dull shape with a central 1m wide bed the length of the area and 1m wide paths around it and beds variously about 1m wide round that. My decision was not based on total lack of creativity but the needs and use of the area. It is primarily to provide cut flowers, in rows, that have to be easily accessed. So rows and relatively narrow beds, so the flowers can easily be reached, are the order of the day.
The beds were based on raised beds and the paths were dug out and to form the edges I had intended to use some roof tiles. Inaccurate measuring meant that I started to use them and then discovered that I was going to run out half way through. These were tiles from an old building that were laying around, and there were some slates too. So we took up some of the tiles we had laid and used slates in some areas and tiles in others. They are all grey so it was not quite a disaster but not ideal.
Anyway, after two days we had the beds made and a day later weed-membrane down and the gravel on top for the paths.
Then the planting could start. The central, long bed is for sweet peas. These have been sown and will be planted in March, if the weather is kind, and they will be grown as single-stemmed plants (cordons) and I may even layer them if they grow well. In the centre of the bed, I have planted about 250 daffodils. They will be in flower and picked by the time I put the canes and sweet pea plants in, with luck, and the sweet peas will hide their dying leaves. Around one length and side I’ve planted tulips in various colours, mostly mixtures, about 400 in all, interspersed with alliums and Dutch iris. And along the other long side are De Caen anemones.
After all the bulbs were planted the whole area was covered in mushroom compost as a mulch. There is obviously lots more to plant and there is a bed for chrysanths and dahlias.