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!
Transforming Topiary – a video made for the European Boxwood And Topiary Society by Charlotte Molesworth and I, in her garden. We take a dog topiary and work out how to update it, turning it into a bird. Worth a watch I think, and hopefully useful to you! You can see more of my clipping on the topiary page. Or read my Spring 2021 Topiary Provocation here.
Phillyrea is one of my favourite plants for topiary. I have been using it for quite a few years as a specimen shrub, mostly due to the fact it clips well and has a tough habit – all good characteristics for a topiary plant. It also has a reputation for being an excellent nectar source for bees… Read more about Phillyrea here. Mentioning this to Malcolm Thicke, a market garden historian and writer, he sent me a some photos of topiary and phillyrea mentioned by John Worlidge in Systema Horticulturae from 1682…. incredible! He also mentioned to me that in …
Kites and Strings is a podcast about creativity, hosted by US-based Stephen Ploum and Catherine Chinnock. Back in March they asked me to come onto their podcast and talk about topiary, my past writing plays, the stand-up I did and how creativity can fit into your life. The Kites and Strings podcast was great fun and Stephen and Catherine are fantastic hosts. Listening back today I am surprised by some of the ideas I talked about (somehow I even started to describe a future where I run a ‘School of Creativity’ by the sea…. where did that come from?!) but it …