So it’s January, my least favourite month of the year and its lockdown. As I write, my husband tells me today is actually called ‘Blue Monday ‘…so it’s not us being mopes; we can honestly blame the time of year! Thankfully I’ve found the perfect way to cheer a dull Monday morning; planning which new varieties of flowers I can try growing this year.
I’m sat in front of the computer with notepad and pen, a pile of gardening books and seed catalogues. It feels positive to dedicate some time to sketch ideas and do some formal research on the how-to’s, rather than leave ideas floating in my head.
The flowers I grow are on a small scale mainly for home use, with some of the best stems making it into gift bouquets and displays for work.
There are so many to choose from. It’s pretty overwhelming once you start flicking through the catalogues. As a florist I’m mainly drawn to their colours and textures; shades that will work well in my own home. As I’ve only got a small area to plant I go for the blooms that really appeal to me.
A goal for 2020 was to source local cut flower suppliers. I’ve found a couple of farms nearby which I have used for clients requesting very naturalistic designs. Seeing the diversity they grow has given me loads of inspiration for some traditional varieties I’d like to try, but in unusual colours.
Flowers that have made it to the ‘must have’ list…
Strawflowers (Helichrysum) – these have made a big comeback from the 80’s! I remember Mum buying dried arrangements years ago. Strawflowers, or Everlasting as they are sometimes referred to, have a natural dried texture, almost like paper. I’ll probably attempt growing these flowers from seed, sowing directly into the cutting patch. They grow in a variety of colours and are the perfect size for creating corsages and buttonholes. I’m planning to make some hair accessories too – looking forward to sharing these with you later in 2021.
Strawflowers in Bridesmaids’ wrist corsages for Natalie and Jonny’s wedding 2020.
Nigella – Or “love in a mist” as it is also called. The local farm grew these in a stunning deep shade of pink as well as the classic blue. I’m planning to try them in a mixed selection. You can buy mixed seed packs quite easily. They should propagate well and they do self-seed readily so fingers crossed they’ll come again next year. I will leave some to go to seed as their seedheads are also very attractive for arrangements.
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) – These are such a traditional cottage garden flower and have a long vase life. They can keep fresh for weeks. I really like deep pinks and burgundy’s so I’m tempted to try ‘Sooty’, which Chiltern Seeds describe as ‘deepest maroon-black.’
Honesty – The pretty and delicate flowers of this plant create stunning translucent seedheads and are gorgeous to use in winter arrangements. It can be pricey to buy as a cut flower, even at wholesale prices. It is very delicate, tearing easily, so difficult to transport without damaging. My logic is that growing my own will surely improve damage limitation; fingers crossed.
Bigoudi Red’ chrysanth blooms – I have a few Chrysanth plants already which are from a Sarah Raven collection. They have been a welcome pop of autumn colour, when other flowers have finished blooming. They’re growing well, now a few years old, so I plan to add this variety as a complementary, deeper shade. I must remember – these grow tall, which is great for perfect long stems to cut (I’ve used these a lot in hand-tied gift bouquets), however, this also means they need staking firmly with tall canes. From bitter experience, heavy rain and windy weather can quickly break stems.
This past ten months has taught me to work harder at enjoying the here and now. The simple things in life have taken on a greater importance and provided joy in the every day, and a big part of that has been enjoying the garden. It’s great to have something to plan and look forward to, which can’t be cancelled!
What new plants are you planning to grow? Are you planning to grow flowers for your own wedding day? I’d love to hear your plans too…