Grand plans and cutting gardens

Winter is the time for gardeners to plan and dream. Somehow, the backbreaking chores and the never-ending weeding don't seem so dispiriting when you're sitting in front of a log fire with a gardening book and a cup of tea. You can conveniently forget that you haven't yet planted all your bulbs and start thinking about next summer's display.
My grand plan for next summer is to start a cutting garden. I still have two enormous borders to clear and plant (three if you count the one I am halfway through), so I shouldn't really be thinking about a new project. However, the border clearance has in part inspired the idea of the cutting garden.
Wouldn't it be nice (I thought to myself) if, instead of heaving out huge chunks of weeds and tracking down the root runs of nettles for days on end, I could just put a couple of raised beds straight down onto a bit of spare lawn (of which I have plenty), fill them up with topsoil, sow some seeds and reap beautiful bouquets for months on end. The prudent, less impulsive part of me thinks I might invest in some raised-bed liners too. I don't want to start digging nettles and ground elder out of yet another bit of the garden.
Now, I know what you are going to say. This is a fashion to which I have fallen victim. And it is true that cutting gardens are in vogue at the moment, thanks to people like Sarah Raven, and Rachel de Thame, who recently presented a cutting garden diary on BBC Gardeners' World.
I've also just bought Louise Curley's book, The Cut Flower Patch, published earlier this year by Frances Lincoln, which is a good practical guide to not only what to grow, but how to arrange it. It seems to me that when everyone is talking about something, that's a good time to find out about it.
Why, you might ask, would I need a cutting garden when I already have a garden full of plants? Well, why do some people have allotments when they could easily grow vegetables in their own garden?
I want to grow flowers as a crop, for the house, in exactly the same way as many people grow veg. I don't have a particularly flowery garden - I love foliage plants, such as grasses, and I like an evergreen structure that looks good all year round. In a cutting garden, I can indulge myself with a glorious kaleidoscope of colourful annuals without worrying about how it will fit in with everything else.
The picture below shows my friend Sue O'Neill's flower garden, which looks fabulous (I love those Rip City dahlias). I never seem to be able to get that look, maybe because I'm too anal about what I plant with what. I'm hoping a cutting patch might loosen up my ideas a bit.


Comments

  1. Who cares whether a cutting garden is in or out of vogue. I think it would be wonderful. I am all too reluctant to cut flowers from the beds and yet I let some veggy beds stay empty when they could be providing me with flowers for the house. I love winter dreaming but we have such a short one which may rear its head this week. Possible frost on two nights from the Arctic Vortex. I wonder if it will come your way, as much of our weather crosses the pond. Not ready for this one but if I have to hunker indoors I will dream.

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  2. I think we only get the hurricanes, Jenny! At the moment, it's fairly average weather here for the time of year, with temps around 52F. Lots of rain and the odd bit of sunshine. I think the idea of utilising your veggy beds is a good one. What would you plant?

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  3. Do it, Victoria! I just ordered The Cut Flower Patch, thanks to your reference. I didn't know about it over here in the States ~ my best, Debra

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  4. I'm with you in spirit - just about to plant lots of tulip bulbs at the allotment as my overwintering crop ready for cutting next spring.

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  5. It's the strong colour of one repeated element and more (more subdued) repeats that make that border work so well? The purpley thing at the front could go..

    You must also ask for Common Farm Flower's book for Christmas!

    XXXX

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  6. I have been thinking along these lines as well. I will devote one or two of the vegetable patches to just flowers next year. That should be pretty easy, right? LOL

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  7. We all need cutting gardens. I try to add some cutting flowers to part of my veg garden every year. I don't feel so bad cutting those flowers to bring inside to enjoy... another harvest.

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  8. Go for it! You will fill your garden with beautiful flowers and have loads for vases that will make you smile over and over again. Your friend Sue's flower garden is scrumptious!

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  9. If I had room, I'd totally do it! Imagine how much fun you will have making all kinds of flower arrangements and bouquets. Be sure to plant some things that give you great seed heads to work with too. Every year when fall rolls around, I always wonder why - besides my beloved alliums - I didn't... Enoy your new project!

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  10. A cutting garden will suit your garden so well, for the complete countryside romantic feel :)

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  11. Fashion and trends shouldn't dictate what you do with your garden. Do whatever makes you happy. I rarely cut flowers to bring inside but if I had room for a cutting garden, I might. :o)

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  12. I know what you mean, I, too, am tempted by a cutting garden, and am contemplating taking the plunge next Spring. My main motivation is that I love flowers in the house, but cannot bear to cut them in the garden. I have even tried buying vases which take a single stem, but can't even manage to fill those ! Surely I can cut armfuls without guilt or regret, if they are growing in a cutting garden ...

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  13. I cut from within my garden. For now I'm discovering found treasures and weighing up, stay or go? A gentle apricot Alstromeria picks happily.

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