Flowers: now what are they all about?

Ok. I’m taking my second foray into the world of flower growing. Last season saw me build a bed for the sole purpose of having cut flowers.  It was a brilliant idea.  I figured if I treated them as a crop then I would have greater chance of having beautiful flowers to have, hold and give away.  I even bought some lovely vases with the intention of having vibrant displays around the place.

The flower garden last year

The flower garden last year, in all it’s cramped naive glory!

You see the thing is I find it extremely difficult to pick the flowers growing around the house as I wouldn’t want to ruin the display.  Having said that the flowers around the house a lucky to be able to show themselves at all as I wouldn’t say they were in formal beds.  Even informal would be a bit of a stretch as they are generally the survivors from burst of good intentions years ago and rear their beautiful faces in spite of their situation.  So who am I to pull off their heads?

It didn't take long before Zinnia won me over to become my favourite flower

It didn’t take long before Zinnia won me over to become my favourite flower

The cut flower bed was to be my answer to it all.  However the reluctance to remove their pretty heads dogged me all summer.  I just couldn’t make myself do it.  This was compounded by the fact I didn’t actually know what I was doing and had begun my garden in my usual ‘give it a whirl’ style.  This didn’t work well for me.  I made the classic newbie mistake of planting things too close together.  And the final straw in my garden was the rogue tomato and pumpkin that sprung up from nowhere and I couldn’t bring myself to evict them.  So they ran rampant and took over the bed leaving little room for the flowers to get a bloom in edgewise.

Dahlia come a close second

Dahlia come a close second

But all was not lost.  My sunflowers towered above the tangled mess below and zinnias pushed through with a bright boldness that quickly endeared themselves to me.  The blue salvia had such a magnificent colour and the cosmos and dahlias were vibrant rays of sunshine.  In hindsight I can picture the lost potential for something amazing, so this year things are going to be different. Things are going to be better.  I am going to make a plan.  On paper.  I’m taking this garden seriously.

And by growing Dahlia from seed you never know what delightful style you'll get

And by growing Dahlia from a mixed pack of seed you never know what delightful style you’ll get

After a good couple of hours and a lot of rubbing out of my pencil plan and much rearranging, I think I have it sorted.  I hope.  I have sealed it in permanent marker so there is no going back.  I started out by drawing the size of each plant on grid paper and then marking how tall they get.  Then in rough height order with the tallest at the back in the south, I began marking out on the master plan.

Don't get me started on how amazing the blues of blue salvia are

Don’t get me started on how amazing the blues of blue salvia are

My bed is 3 metres by 2 metres and is the biggest of all my gardens so I was quite surprised just how few plants I could actually fit in if I space them properly.  I thought for a moment that I wasn’t converting my centimetres to metres properly and added another zero, until I realised I’d just made my garden 3 kilometres x 2 kilometres.  So out came the eraser again.  I had divided the bed down the middle to ensure most of the tall plants were actually at the back.  So each half was a metre wide and I even got the calculator out to divide 100 cm by the size of the plants just to make sure.  It’s not that I can’t do simple maths, but I just could believe how few plants I could fit into my big garden.

So this is about how big the flowers get...  hmmm

So this is about how big the flowers get… hmmm

Last year I had about 9 rows of half a dozen plants each in each half of the garden and hoped for the best.  That’s 108 plants.  This time I have 49.  No wonder it was such a nightmare and the tomato and the pumpkin couldn’t have helped.  All I need to do now is figure out which are perennials and which are annuals so I know which ones to pull up at the end of the season and which ones to leave and watch for next spring.

Ok so this is it - the master plan for the flower garden

Ok so this is it – the master plan for the flower garden

Oh my goodness my head is spinning.  Now all I have to do is sow the seeds.  I’ll sow extra just in case, so if I’ve got this completely wrong then please tell me and I’ll pop in some more.  Please don’t tell me if I need less, it would be too much to bear!

Come again soon – the garden in coming along nicely.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

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20 Comments on “Flowers: now what are they all about?

  1. Sometimes you can maximize the number of plants by double-digging, that is, by adding organic material and “fluffing the soil” to a depth of 18″ or so. (See, Square Foot Gardening.)

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  2. Growing extra is probably the best idea, not only for filling in any gaps but because you can then plant these in other, less cultivated areas of your garden and enjoy the sight of their blooms which may help alleviate your reluctance to cut from your flower garden 🙂 x

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    • Hi Elaine. I may just pop some of the spares about the place, although they will have to have a do or die mentality to survive – I never really seem to have much time to garden beyond the veggie patch.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  3. Wishing you well with the flowers. I look forward to see your progress. Gene

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  4. I always seem to overcrowd and sow extra, but I think a few extra is a great plan. You can always toss a spare zinnia sprout into the bean bed!

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    • The funny thing is I am always so careful with the spacing of my veggies. I can’t possibly think why I thought it would be ok for flowers…
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  5. Hey Sarah … good luck with that flower garden. I always over plant too .. and I find it really difficult to remove self seeded stuff too. Plus I loathe removing flowers to pop indoors .. silly ah. I prefer leaving them in the garden and admiring them when I’m out hauling weeds and the likes. I plant my flowers in with my vege .. although sometimes they end up resembling flower beds! LOL

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    • Thanks Julie. I have learnt many lessons along the way that even a tomato can be a weed if it is in the wrong place! However every now and again I let something stay – and then regret it later when it takes over!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  6. Sarah, I think you’ve got an excellent plan in place. I envy you all that space, even though I know it seems on the smaller side to you. I love everything you’ve planted. Sunflowers are such fun to grow, but beware the birds. They like to peck away at the leaves. The good news is that it doesn’t seem to harm to plant. Zinnias and Dahlias are magnificent bloomers. I love cosmos too. Oh my you’ll have vases galore.

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    • Hi Alys. I’m looking forward to seeing the flowers grow properly this year, with the right space about them. I’ve even started collecting a few vases.
      The birds have been a pain this year and have pecked at most of my leaves. They seem so bold. Maybe I need a scarecrow.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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  7. What an absolutely brilliant idea. We have four raised garden beds that we usually plant out with the typical veges. I was looking at one of the beds and thinking “i’m sick of growing carrots” the other day. I may creatively procure (steal) your idea and grow some flowers for my wife. Love your work.

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    • Thanks Glenn. I normally get round the boredom of growing just ‘the usuals’ by trying several new things each season. Some get to stay and others – yeah nah.
      I am sure your wife will love it if you grow flowers for her.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

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