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.