January: Time to Plan Ahead for a Year-Round Garden of Cut Flowers
Now is the time to plan your garden to grow flowers for cutting this year. Establishing a long succession of flowers for cutting is easy and not hugely costly. Perennials that self-seed, such as the frothy yellow Alchemilla mollis or aquilegias, are plants no flower arranger should be without but until they become established it’s simple to sow annuals for filling in gaps. Once you have planted your range of quick-to-grow flowers, you can fine tune with particular colours and extend the succession of blooms and foliage for a whole year of interest in the garden and home.
Spring bulbs produce easy and attractive flowers for a vase. Start with the early snowdrops in January and finish with alliums and camassias in May for a long succession of attractive arrangements. If you’ve been given a pot of forced hyacinths or daffodils for Christmas, don’t waste them – plant outside for next year’s display of colour.
In early summer, the dainty blooms of the Siberian iris are excellent for cutting with the long grassy leaves making an elegant combination. To follow on, if you have a sheltered spot to grow them, agapanthus make an eye-catching centrepiece cut flower in combination with the foliage of eucalyptus and/or pittosporum, which both appreciate the same position in a garden to thrive. If you prefer warmer colours, the Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria) are among the longest lasting cut flowers, but for pure luxury, give peonies a go. The pale pink ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ and the rosy ‘Bowl of Beauty,’ filled with golden stamens, have the added bonus of exquisite scent. To truly fill your house with the perfume of summer, many of the extensive varieties of rose are perfection. Whites are easiest to use in an arrangement, with Rosa Iceberg being a good all-round choice.
As summer fades, dahlias become indispensable as cut flowers. Those with bronze foliage, such as the eye catching ‘Bishop of Llandaff,’ make superb hot colour arrangements when combined with the foliage of the easy to grow Cotinus ‘Royal Purple.’ Michaelmas daisies come in pinks, mauves and violets and can be contrasted with the flat heads of sedum, the most spectacular forms of which have purple leaves and pink flowers.