Flowers in a Vase

We all need more sunshine and smiles. And these multi-headed sunflowers have provided both this summer. Regular readers will know that I grow flowers for my mother in law Joan as a way of keeping her connected with me and my garden. Joan, who is 88, can’t come to visit as often as she would like, and so each week I run round the garden and gather a sample of everything in flower. Joan enjoys flower arranging. She did the chapel flowers for 65 years. She loves arranging my bundles of flowers and filling every window ledge and hall cupboard with colour.

I’ve had the best year yet with these sunflowers from Mr Fothergills seeds. Some of the multi-headed varieties provided 9 flowers per stem. Almost a bouquet in themselves. I will be growing varieties Halo, Buttercream, and Solar Flash again next year. I’ll start them off in the spring and plant out in May, using Slug Gone wool pellets to protect them from being nibbled. This year I grew morning glory up the stems, and under-planted them with calendulas.

I have been in love all summer with new Calendula Snow Princess. In truth, it’s a very pale cream, not white. But so frilly. It reminds me of a tutu. And so prolific. Every time I’ve walked up the plot there’s been a handful of stems to pick. Such a pretty flower, and accommodating as it didn’t mind being planted under sunflowers.

No two plants are alike, but I particularly love this one with the delicate caramel picotee edging. Lasts for 7 days in a vase. I’ve just planted out some for next year. If you have a spare bit of ground or a few large pots, there’s still time to sow some from seed. There’s also time to sow other hardy annuals- cornflowers, nigella, larkspur, poppies. They will grow slowly over winter and provide early flowers next spring.

in just about every bouquet of flowers this summer I managed to include one of these white water lily dahlias. This tuber cost £1 from Wilkinson’s in the spring. I started it off in a pot in the greenhouse and planted it out end of May. It grew to nearly 5 feet and has been smothered in flowers. I will pay better attention to earwigs next year, putting plant pots of straw or corrugated cardboard on canes amongst the plants. As I don’t like to kill anything, the straw etc will be shaken out in a wild part of the garden every morning. Interestingly, the earwigs didn’t attack a deep red cactus-flowering dahlia growing right along side.

Another stalwart of my summer cut flower garden is rudbeckia. These were gown from a packet of seeds called All Sorts Mixed from Thompson and Morgan. I love the twisty edges of this one, and the lime green stripe on the back of the petals. Truly scrumptious.

Rudbeckia Marmalade from Mr Fothergills seed has beautiful shiny, chocolate-coloured centres.

Rudbeckias last for at least 7 days in a vase and brighten any posy of flowers. I grow mine in semi-shade under a plum tree, as that’s the only space I have. Seed packets cost just a couple of pounds each, and Mum and I share a packet between us as there are too many seeds for one garden.

Fitting in with the daisy theme are these Snow White asters which flower reliably every October under my old plum tree.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this gallery of photos of my MIL’s flowers this week. I love to join in with Cathy and her meme In a Vase on Monday. But my flowers are always picked on Saturdays and Sundays when we go over to the in laws to do their gardening, shopping and look after them. However, I always read what the others are growing and picking in their gardens- all over the world. Go over and have a look. It’s fascinating to see how many are growing the same plants in different climates.

Do you grow cut flowers for your home or friends and family? I have 10 1.2m by 3m beds with little paths between. Four of them are filled with flowers, and the others are packed with kale, beetroot, chard, onions and strawberries. There’s quite a few weeds too! Leave a comment and let me know what you are growing right now, or what plans you have for next spring. Flowers have certainly kept everyone cheerful here this summer. And you can never have too many smiles, can you.

56 thoughts on “Flowers in a Vase

    • Thank you Mike. I’m trialling some new pot marigolds called Orange Flash from Mr Fothergills. They are a dwarf bi-colour, suitable for pollinators. So far, they have made stocky little plants. I’ll let you know how they do. Thanks for reading and for kind comments. Enjoy your weekend 🙂 xx

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  1. A lovely post; I love seeing the flowers you share with your MIL; I think it is such a lovely idea to keep her in touch with you and your garden. Your sunflowers are amazing, mine have all finished, maybe I didn’t pick them enough! I thought your Canendulars were Zinnias when I first looked at them; maybe I should give some of those a try next year, I don’t think I’ve ever grown them.

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    • Thank you Christina. It’s so worth it, to see everyone smiling at the flowers. I don’t know anyone who isn’t pleased to see sunflowers and golden rudbeckias. I’m just hoping my yellow chrysanthemums are going to last until Christmas. We’ve just decided to all converge and have Christmas at my I’m-laws this year, instead of the difficulties of trying to transport them now they are quite frail. So I’m making plans to fill their house with festive cheer. It’s only 9 weeks away. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. x

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    • Thank you Joanna. They have been such good value. And they look like they will keep flowering for a few weeks yet. They get some frost protection from the plum tree, which helps to keep them going for a bit longer. Rudbeckias are our favourites too. Thanks so much for reading and for getting in touch. Much appreciated

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    • Italian white sunflowers are very sophisticated. There is one tiny one in my bouquet, you can just see it. They certainly have been lovely this summer. The bees loved them, and now the birds are enjoying the seeds on the large flower heads left behind. Thanks for reading and for getting in touch. Do you follow the meme in a Vase on Monday? It’s so interesting to see what everyone is growing.

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    • Thank you. My MIL is a wonderful woman and has always done everything she can to help me over the years. Once, my daughter who was 7 at the time came home and announced she was going to be a reindeer in the school christmas play- the next day! She had forgotten to tell me. My MIL rang whilst I was sitting at the kitchen table wondering what on earth to do. Amazingly she had an outfit she had made when my husband was the same age. She knew where it was in the loft, found it within 5 minutes, and brought it straight over. I wish I was that organised!

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      • Planted these on a windswept corner, so they get plenty of air circulating around them. Although they were under the sunflowers, which seemed to work. I planted them out promptly in the spring and then kept plenty of space around them too. Used PlantGrow fertiliser which kept everything healthy. Try spraying with seaweed extract. Good luck 🙂 x

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    • Meant to add, thank you for reading and for getting in touch. The calendulas have been really amazing this year- and there’s still lots to pick today. Thanks again. Karen x

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  2. I had planned to grow flowers for cutting this year, but didn’t have a huge amount of success. The slugs got to a lot of them when they were young, and a surprising amount of seedlings rotted. I enjoyed the plants I had success with, mainly Nicotiana, Corncockle, Paper Daisies, Sunflowers and Rudbeckia. You’ve inspired me to try again with more varieties.

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    • Ah, that’s kind of you to say. I used the wool pellets around everything newly planted out. They form like a little furry cow pat that the slugs don’t like. I put brambles down in a ring as well. Snails hate brambles. You could also try making a mini pond on your cut flower patch to attract frogs. They eat loads of slugs. I put down sacrificial piles of wilted lettuce which the slugs adore, and remove it each morning. And finally, it’s expensive but strulch mulch deters slugs and snails. Good luck and thanks so much for reading and getting in touch. Let me know how you get on with your gardening plans. All the best. Karen

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    • Forgot to say, spray the seedlings with diluted cinnamon water. It is a natural way to control damping off of seedlings. Sow fewer seeds, further apart. Well ventilate. Move on quickly as soon as seedlings have two leaves. Only hold the leaves, don’t touch the stem. Use lots of grit to aid drainage. Good luck 🙂 x

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    • Thank you Brian. I know we will be the same when our two buy their own houses. That white dahlia has been amazingly prolific. Just goes to show you don’t need to spend a fortune on plants. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Have a good week. Karen

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    • Thank you Anne. It makes my day to see her smile when she arranges all the flowers into little vases and carries them to the window ledges. Thanks again for reading and getting in touch. Have a good week. x

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  3. These are so beautiful….and I love how you share them with your mother-in-law. I wish my mom was not 3000 miles away. This was the first year my multi-flowering sunflowers did not self seed. I missed them. And I love how you underplanted them. My morning glories wound their way around my sunflowers last year on their own. I will keep your mix of sunflowers, morning glories and calendula in mind for a planting next year.

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    • Thank you for your lovely words. The sunflower,morning glory and calendula combination was not planned. I just ran out of space and couldn’t bear throwing the plants away. So I discovered by accident that they work like the “three sisters” idea. The morning glory actually helped during our recent storms Ophelia and Brian. they literally anchored the sunflowers down, and also the runner beans on a precarious wigwam. Thanks for reading and for your kind comments.

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    • Thank you Peter. Glad you like my sunshine. Smiles are freely given here. I’m so lucky to have kind and generous in-laws. My father in law made lots of windows for this house. Useful to have a skilled woodworker in the family. Thanks for reading and for getting in touch. Your kind comments are much appreciated.

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  4. Karen – your sunflowers made my heart both sing and get a little sad. I didn’t have any this year and they have been such an amazing joy in the past. So thanks for sharing yours! And yes, that little calendula ‘Snow Princess’ is a winner.

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    • Thank you Cathy. I’m glad the sunflowers made you smile. I too haven’t managed to grow all the plants I would have liked. I made a basic list of essentials -knowing I would be hard pressed with time this year looking after our own and our in-laws gardens. Next year I would like to grow more dahlias. And I’m going to grow larkspur in pots. Thanks for reading and for getting in touch. I always love seeing what you are growing at Chatillon xx

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  5. Your flowers are fantastic, Karen! My own sunflowers are long gone, taken out by a series of summer heatwaves. I adore that Calendula and will have to see if I can find seeds for that variety here. I’m sure your mother-in-law enjoys each and every arrangement you create.

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    • Thank you Kris. Those calendulas are still going strong today. I’m amazed how prolific and hardy they are. And the best thing is, the slugs don’t seem to touch them. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Good luck with your own garden. Karen

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  6. Thank you Karen for the wonderful photos of your beautiful flowers: they have made me smile and have a unique time. Sunflowers are divine, precious. The Snow Princess Calendula is cute. The white water lily dahlia is so beautiful … The Rudbeckia is beautiful and cheerful. The Snow White Asters are divine. You are a beautiful person taking all the weekends to your MEM the flowers so she can place them at home. Memories to your Mother. Loving greetings from Margarita.

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    • You’ve made me laugh. It is my MIL short for mother in law. I’ve just copied everyone else on here with that short form. Do not worry. You are just the same as me. I get all in a muddle. No one minds xxx

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    • Thank you Cynthia. It’s amazing to see the power of flowers to make people smile. I can’t change the big things in life, such as ageing and disability- much as I would love to. But I can look after the little things, supplying colour and joy. Thanks for reading and for your kind comments. xx

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