THE MODERN MINT BLOG
Now we live and work in Essex we are looking for interesting people who grow cut flowers.
Because we love fresh, local flowers. And when you grow your own, or someone you know nearby is growing cut flowers, you will normally be able to get a more exciting variety.
It was only when we started growing our own flowers for the vase that we realised how much better they are than the ones you get in the supermarket. Call us a snob (you’re a snob!) but now, when we see men taking out of season roses home on Valentine’s Day, we cringe… perfect roses in February are not a romantic gesture, they are at odds with the seasons.
Talking of seasons, we visited Japan last Autumn to learn about their gardens. We saw examples of Ikebana (The Way of Flowers) like this arrangement in a temple in Kyoto. Note the choice of plants used – all in season. Believe us, these plants matched the skies outside, and grounded us quite definitely in the time of year. (Do check out this short post we wrote about Japanese gardens, as it includes the most incredible picture of a Chrysanthemum – mind-blowing!)
But rather than use this post to tell you how to grow cut flowers, we wanted to see what we could grow as cut flowers here in Essex. It is, after all, a hot dry county and presents different conditions to the cut flower grower than Hampshire did.
(If you want to know more detail on how to grow cut flowers, then go to the doyen of all that is ‘grow-your-own’ Sarah Raven. Her website has lots of advice. Louise Curley has also written a very useful book on growing cut flowers. You can find it on Amazon here: The Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round.)
We like to be frugal with water. So growing cut flowers in Essex may be difficult unless we adapt to the conditions. To us, this means growing…
Grasses like Stipa gigantea
Are you starting to see a trend here? Lots of Meditteranean plants? Lots of foliage?
Foliage is one of the ideas we wrote about as good to grow if you have a Cut Flower Business. We provided a lot of beech, which at this time of year has great character and provides an interesting texture to an arrangement.
If growing cut flowers, in Essex or anywhere else, do plant beech as a hedge around your cut flower patch!
There has been a boom in growing your own food in the last few years. We hope this continues. But don’t forget that flowers, grown purely to make your heart leap, are every bit as important. As Arkad said in The Richest Man in Babylon…
“No man’s family can fully enjoy life unless they do have a plot of ground wherein children can play in the clean earth and where the wife may raise not only blossoms but good rich herbs to feed her family.”
We like that…
Good luck with your flower growing, and we hope these plants, that we would be using if we were to grow cut flowers in Essex, are a useful guiding point for you!
I am running a topiary workshop in 2020 with the wonderful topiary artist Charlotte Molesworth at her spectacular topiary garden in Kent. This is a topiary workshop where you will learn to clip, so be prepared to do some cutting. We start with a tour of the garden, which Charlotte and her husband Donald have been cultivating for 34 years. It is organic, full of wildlife and has the most extraordinary pruned shapes made from yew and boxwood. You can see more photos of the garden in an article in the Guardian here: Topiary Garden In Kent What Else Will …
On Monday night I gave a talk to the Hardy Plant Society Middlesex. Below are a few links for further information based on some of the ideas discussed in the talk: Real Seeds – a fantastic supplier of fruit and vegetable seeds for growers. Boxwood Caterpillar Advice – from the European Boxwood & Topiary Society. I will also write a little companion piece this winter with more information and some topiary techniques, so watch out for that on this website. Boxwood Lure & Nematodes – my preferred option for dealing with the caterpillar. Discount code for 10% off is EBTSBOX29GBZ …