I LOVE having fresh flowers in the house, but have serious reservations when it comes to buying them. After all, they are essentially another crop, like beans or tomatoes or spuds, which requires energy and water to grow and whose transport from farm to market requires fossil fuels. Worse still, they are often grown in circumstances that exploit the local labour force and with the use of damaging chemicals to make sure they look picture perfect. I’m not sure I can justify any of that for a few days prettiness.
I go to extra effort to buy local, organic vegetables, so why should I then buy imported flowers with a massive carbon footprint? In fact, I go to quite a lot of effort to grow organic vegetables, whose journey from soil to plate can be measured in metres rather than miles, and whose production does nothing to damage the ecosystem.
So, Sarah Raven’s “Grow your own cut flowers” was the perfect birthday gift. Thank you Mum! I’ve often enjoyed picking flowers from the garden to have in the house, but this book has really changed how I think about doing this, and helped me to apply the things I’ve learnt from growing our own veg. So, one of our three raised beds is now dedicated to growing flowers for cutting, with the emphasis being on those that ‘cut and come again’.
I’ve got Honesty, Sweet Peas, two sorts of Poppies, Euphorbia Oblongata, Centaurea cyanus ‘Black Ball’, and Bupleurum rotundifolium in this bed. This gets away from that lurking feeling that by picking flowers for the house, I’ll be ruining the display in the garden. It was a new idea to me to grow some annuals for their foliage. And I’ve fallen in love with Dahlias – to the extent that I’ve even been taking cuttings so I’ve got more of them next year! My aim is to produce ‘proper’ bouquets – as well as to enjoy simple classics like Sweet Peas.
And some plants are just so rewarding. I’ve put Pinks in one border and they’ve been flowering for weeks. Snapdragons are look like being particularly good performers and I have two sorts of Nigella just about to burst into flower. I’ve also planted a lovely pale pink Rose, a house warming gift from some friends, and I’ve been making the most of the Spireas that were here, and turn out to make quite good cut flowers. The only failure has been Astrantia – beautiful flowerheads, but an unpleasantly weird scent!
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