Garden Club Talks. Cut Flowers

A warm welcome to all new readers who’ve attended my garden club, or U3A talks. Here’s a selection of photos from my talks to accompany the plant lists. I’m available in the East Midlands area for talks. If you’ve enjoyed one of my talks, please pass my details on to neighbouring clubs and societies. I give a donation to charity with each talk. My e mail is

Echinacea White Swan grown from seed. Plants also come from Miles Nursery, Hoby, Leicestershire.

I’ve been a garden designer for 25 years. Pollinators- bees and butterflies- are always a priority when choosing plants.

I highly recommend Jean Vernon for advice on helping bumble bees and solitary bees. I reviewed her best-selling book here:

Here’s where I grow my plants. I have a second hand 20ft Alton Cedar greenhouse which cost £260 30 years ago. I’ve painted it black and made matching staging. Alongside is a 20ft poly tunnel. We bought the hoops from a nursery closing down. The metal hoops cost £20 on condition we took down a 40ft tunnel and cleared the site. It took us a day to take it down and a week to install the poly tunnel at home. The new plastic covering cost about £140. You can just see the potting shed which replaced one made from pallets which lasted 20 years! This one is made from recycled wood and 1920s window frames which came from a house in the village having double glazing fitted. The roof is black onduline which is fairly cheap and easy to build with. My luxury, having saved money on second hand items, is an electricity supply to the potting shed and greenhouse. At the moment the greenhouse is heated to just above freezing. Orange and lemon trees thrive there.

In front of the greenhouse there’s 10 beds with 2x2ft slab paths between. The beds are about 1.2m wide by 3m long . Vegetables and flowers are mixed together. One bed contains wild flowers. Two beds have hazel A-frames made from hazel rods. These rods come from farm suppliers and are used as binders for hedge laying. They are fairly cheap and last three years if repaired every spring. Natural string is used to tie them together, so at the end of their life, the whole lot can be shredded and composted.

Sweet peas are sown in October and February and planted out in April. Down the centre of the A- frames are gladioli and lilies. Perennial argyranthemums and annual Ammi are interplanted and calendula set at the front. The frame supports all the flowers and no further staking is needed, which saves time.

I grow new varieties and heritage types. Above is a new one called Wiltshire Ripple from Mr Fothergill’s. Highly fragrant and with long stems ideal for cut flowers. Try their new Suffolk Punch sweet pea, launched this year to support the Suffolk Punch Trust which is helping to conserve this heritage working horse breed.

Here’s a posy with dark blue sweet peas, Ammi, argyranthemums and lavender Hidcote. There’s always mint and rosemary in all my arrangements for the gorgeous scent. The grey foliage is Seneccio Vira Vira from Coton Manor Nursery.

Here’s the argyranthemums made into a mossy wreath with ivy, Ammi and Blue Boy cornflowers.

My wreaths end up on the 1920s summerhouse which is on a turntable to follow the sun.

Here’s a rose wreath with highly-scented Constance Spry, David Austin’s first rose, and Mme Isaac Periere, a heritage rose dating back to 1841.

Inside the potting shed. The wreath is made from a metal frame covered in moss. 10cm lengths of Ivy are poked into the moss all around the outside and inside of the ring. Roses and stems of elderflower are added on top. These will last a week if sprayed with water every day.

These roses are new from Whartons. They are a home-florists’ range for cut flowers. This one is Timeless Cream. Highly scented, with few thorns, long stems and it also repeat-flowers through summer to autumn. You can find out more about British rose growers from Roses UK which promotes the industry and spreads the word about new and heritage roses.

It goes well with carnation Bridal Star, white Antirrhinum Royal Bride, Ammi, and cosmos Psyche White. Blue gladioli (Pheasant Acre Plants) mint and Agapanthus Fireworks (Wyvale Nurseries) compete the posy.

Cosmos Psyche White. Mr Fothergill’s seed. Started in February and planted out end of May. Flowers from June to November.

Agapanthus Fireworks, a new variety which flowers all summer.

Calendula, a seedling from Touch of Red. Mr Fothergill’s seed.

If you’ve attended one of my talks, I hope you’ve enjoyed this reminder of some of the flowers mentioned. Your leader will e mail a comprehensive plant list, and I look forward to returning next year with a different talk on another gardening subject.

23 thoughts on “Garden Club Talks. Cut Flowers

  1. Loved reading this Karen. I especially liked the way that you’ve recycled and repurposed things rather than buying new, that you have a summerhouse on a turntable (genius) and that there’s a sweet pea named after my home county!!

    I hope you’re keeping well. Are you going to the GPE – might see you tomorrow!

    Best wishes, Sue

    Sue Bradley

    Garden Writer

    Cornerstones, 1 Stroud Road, Bisley, Gloucestershire. GL6 7BQ

    01452 770337

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Susan. I think we were recycling things before it became fashionable 😃. Having no money when we were in our 20s made a long-lasting impression on us. We grew up with a make-do-and-mend ethos which has stood us in good stead through the years. Isn’t that new sweet pea amazing! I do love Mr Fothergill’s new varieties and how they help charities I care about. The summerhouse is my pride and joy and its history is quite amazing. It lived on the edge of a lake in Derbyshire at Flower Lillies Hall owned by Lady Inglefield. It was sold when her husband died and she had to auction everything including the hall. It was bought by a family in Belton near Ashby and sat in the edge of their tennis court until I bought it for £100. We are going to travel to Flower Lillies to find out more! Thanks for reading the blog. Enjoy the GPE. I’m not well enough to go. Karen xx


  2. What an interesting ‘summary’ post, Karen, for those of us who you have followed your blog for some time. I was intrigued to read that A Fireworks flowers all summer, and may seek it out for this reaon. For the first time I was reminded of the summerhouse in the ex-daily home before my parents moved back to Scotland which was probably from a similar era, and wondered if it too turned. Sadly it was grossly underused, probably just for storing the lawn mower 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Cathy. I’m enjoying doing these talks and decided to do a summary for new readers. Fireworks is highly recommended as it repeat flowers quite well. Very striking flowers. Well named. The summerhouse, when I first saw it, housed chickens! And there were hens nesting under the tracks too! One blackbird nest in the corner. Thanks for reading. Have a great week. Karen xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Karen,

    Thank you for a wonderful post! Your beautiful floristry is inspirational. I shall certainly aim for more flowers in the garden this year, as you tell us where to source and how to grow. I am also inspired by your thriftiness with garden buildings, as I contemplate yet again, at the start of another year, the dilapidated state of my old wooden garage building which is the hub of my gardening activity, and wonder if it shouldn’t be restored. The money they want for new!

    Last week, walking through Woodhouse Eaves, I passed another example of a turntable summerhouse, one I visited a few years ago but now looking rather neglected. They must have been a luxury item in their day; Crane’s Buildings would charge a small fortune for one now!

    Best wishes,


    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Peter. I looked at Cranes summerhouses for years and could never afford them. Every time I saved up enough money, someone in the family suddenly needed the money for something. I can’t see anyone needing anything, so the summerhouse went down the list time and again. Scott’s of Thrapston were another dream supplier. However, my patience was rewarded when I chanced up on this summerhouse needing love and attention.the roof was dilapidated and a few of the bottom planks were damaged. A local sawmills got very excited and gave us a whole oak tree sawed into wavy-edged planks for our renovation project, for not much money. People are kind, I often find. We saw one of our summerhouses when driving through Stoneygate recently – sadly looking the worse for wear. I hope I’ve fired you up to renovate yours. Onduline roofing is a cheap and attractive roof, and easy to fit. We’ve used it for the potting shed. My in laws paid for the cedar shingles for the summerhouse, as they were staying with us for a few weeks whilst building works were underway at their home to make life easier for them. A lovely legacy, as I sit in there fondly thinking of them a lot. Have a happy week. Karen


    • Thank you Derrick. I’m loving the new garden club talks. Never thought I’d have the confidence to do it, but it’s amazing what you can do if determined. Thanks as ever for reading and for your kind comments. Have a great week. Karen

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Karen is your garden club in your village and was the U3A talk there also, I belong to the Melton U3A any chance you might be doing one here, and lastly do you ever open your garden for charity. Many thanks Chris

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Chris, I’d love to do a talk in melton. I’ve done one for the townswomen’s guild in melton on rainbows hospice. I travel up to 40 miles. Please get in touch to discuss. I don’t open at the moment, but might in the future….Thanks for reading. All the best. Karen


  5. Wow! That agapanthus is rad! I still grow the common blue agapanthus that I divided while in junior high school, and a common white agapanthus that I grew on the farm in the early 1990s. I enjoy both very much, although they are considered to be cheap and common here. To me, blue is the classic color for agapanthus. However, white is my favorite color. Anyway, I never bothered to procure any or the more interesting modern cultivars. There has been no need to. I sometimes consider it though. I just know how I am. I know that if I were to do so, I would grow it for the rest of my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve got the blue and the white ones too and I love them as well. They are long-lasting plants aren’t they. This one, combining blue and white is very striking. Have a great week Tony. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Karen

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, that is what I mean. As much as I avoid modern cultivars, that blue and white really is striking. I have a rule against purchasing new plants though. There is too much here and in all the gardens. My original bearded iris were strictly limited to fourteen cultivars, with a fifteenth Iris pallida. Then I got nearly as many cultivars from one client, and now have nearly as many at work! Anyway, what do you think of the purple agapanthus? Does it seem to be a bit too dark?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Eliza. I’m really loving giving talks to garden clubs and showing everyone how to make the wreaths out of moss and Ivy and a few garden flowers. Thanks for your kind comments which are much appreciated. Have a great week. Karen x

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Anne, it’s such a lovely little summerhouse. Bought for £100 and renovated over a year. It’s on little miniature railway tracks with railway carriage wheels, so it’s easy to push round to always face the sun and enjoy different views of the garden. Currently, it’s facing the pond and snowdrops. In high summer, we face the field and watch the swallows swoop over the corn. Have a great week. Karen x


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