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!
Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …
Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …
Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022