Cut Flower Garden Grown In Builder’s Buckets.


Noble Furface wearing his combat harness, ever vigilant for Russian horticulturalists.
Noble Furface wearing his combat harness, ever vigilant for Russian horticulturalists.

This year I have donned my lab coat and safety googles and stepped forth into the murky and sometimes dangerous world of experimentation. The question of whether man or womankind could grow flowers  in standard builder’s buckets had been plaguing the think tanks of Europe for hundreds of years. From Socrates to The Man from Del Monti, everybody had an opinion but the stark truth was that no one knew for sure and this was making people nervous.

Things came to a head recently when reports came in of a secret Russian horticultural SWOT team making drops of buckets and what appeared to be Sweet Pea seeds into Russian held Ukraine. This news pushed the Americans over the edge, the Ukrainian Bucket Crisis could tip the world into a hitherto unimaginable, nasty little squable. Naturally I wasn’t surprised that the Higgledy hot line lit up that afternoon at the Higgledy HQ.

“It’s the PM”, said Furface, handing me the receiver, wearing a furrowed look on his muzzle.

“Higgers…” Said the ham faced Tory Womble, “we need you for one last job…the Russians….”

I broke him off, “Teach me something I don’t know big guy…you don’t grow the best Calendula ‘Indian Prince’ this side of Corby without being all over any covert Eastern European bucket movements…I know what needs to be done…”

“Thanks Higgers…Britain salutes you!” Replied the PM, sounding relieved.

“I’m in like Flynn, I’m Jimmy Jim Jim!”, not having had time to do any work on my catch phrase  I quickly hung up and got to work on Project Bucket.


On this side I have let the wild grasses grow up around the the buckets are pretty much hidden and it gives it a rustic chic vibe. ;)
On this side I have let the wild grasses grow up around the buckets…so the buckets are pretty much hidden and it gives it a rustic chic vibe. 😉 The Sweet Peas have been left to ramble down the wall, Higgledy style.

As it turned out…growing flowers in builder’s buckets works really rather well.

First you MUST drill holes in the bottom for we did…burn holes using a red hot fiery poker, fresh out of the wood burner. #Hardcore

These buckets cost me a pound a pop. The compost to fill them was about two or three pounds a pop.

I started seeds off in small 9 cm square pots and then transplanted into the buckets when they were a couple of inches high. (I mean when the seedlings were a couple of inches high…not the buckets…the buckets have stayed the same height all the way through)

From the lawn side of the bucket patch you can see more clearly what's going on. Too the right hand side of the photo you can see I've got some perennials in buckets...Knautia and Chrysanthemum.
From the lawn side of the bucket patch you can see more clearly what’s going on. To the right hand side of the photo you can see I’ve got some perennials in buckets…Knautia, Echinops and Chrysanthemum…will have to wait until next year for those chaps to get with the program.

The Sweet Peas however I sowed in the buckets themselves…I thinned them to five seedlings per bucket…I think next time I will thin them to three.

Everything I sowed did really well with the exception of Nasturtium and Craspedia, who probably found the compost far too rich for their wants.

Cosmos, Rudbeckia, Carnation, Helichrsum are all yet to flower...
Cosmos, Rudbeckia, Carnation, Helichrysum are all yet to flower…

The buckets allow me to move this mini cutting garden out of the way of the hefty storms that run up our valley straight off the Atlantic. They would of course also be great for folk with no gardens but who may have patios or a balcony.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed growing flowers in buckets (simple things for simple minds). Having them growing just outside the front door is just great as my lotty plot is a ten minute bike ride away.

The Sweet peas going down the wall meet the Daucus Carota going's a fab tangle.
The Sweet peas going down the wall meet the Daucus Carota going up…it’s a fab tangle.

One thing to bear in mind if you grow in buckets like these is that in warm weather they need to be watered every day…you can miss a day if a string of lingerie models pop by with a bottle of Martini but on the whole you must be attentive to your watering duties.

All the seeds can of course be found in the Higgledy Seed Shop.

Hope you’re having a great weekend.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy.




Orlaya, Cornflowers, Salvia & Candytuft.

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I am still very lacking in any flower arranging skills and sit firmly in the camp of rustle some stems about in a jam jar and go for the ‘rakish & relaxed’ look…simple things for simple minds and all that.

This particular jar of lackadaisical lolloping has been created using Orlaya grandiflora, Cornflower ‘Blue Ball’, Salvia ‘Blue Monday’ & Candytuft ‘Crown’. All of these chaps are annuals and are super easy to grow from seed…they are also very prolific and just keep on producing flowers.


I like these cool colours hanging out together…it rather suits the weather…photographing them on the windowsill reminds me that I really must have some stiff words with my valet about his glass cleaning duties.

In a couple of weeks I shall be heading up to have a lesson in hand tied bouquets from the clever folk at the Garden Gate Flower Company…then there shall be no stopping me…I will be a floral machine of wonder and industry.

Tinkerty tonk!

Benjamin Higgledy

Sweet Pea ‘Jilly’ From A Spring Sowing.

Sweet Pea 'Jilly'
Sweet Pea ‘Jilly’

This is the best creamy white Sweet Pea that is available…they look like they’ve been painted into your cutting patch by holidaying Dutch masters. The flowers are regular and reliable and throw themselves at you with good straight stems, making them idea for the vase. …and yes….they have good scent too….blooms mature to a wonderful shade of Ivory.

I grew all my Sweet Peas in builder’s buckets (Full of soil based compost) this year and they all did fantastically well…you just have to remember to keep them well watered in the dry spells as they are thirsty little critters.

Flowers turn from delicate cream to ivory.
Flowers turn from delicate cream to ivory.

‘Jilly’ was judged to be in the top three Sweet Peas grown by members of the Sweet Pea Society of Great Britain.

One can sow Sweet Peas in autumn as well as spring…I seem to always forget in autumn…I am experimenting this season by sowing some in early June…they seem to be doing rather well thus far…I shall of course keep you posted on how the little darlings are progressing.

I sell Sweet Pea ‘Jilly’ in the Higgledy Seed Shop at £2.60 for 20 seeds. ‘Jilly’ is also in my ‘Sweet Pea Collection’.

Tinkerty Tonk!

Benjamin Higgledy

June & July Are The Best Months For Sowing Your Biennial Flower Seeds.

Sweet William 'Auricula Eyed' amongst other beauties...these grown by Celia Hart...thx Celia.
Sweet William ‘Auricula Eyed’ among other beauties…these grown by Celia Hart…thx Celia.

If you are into this whole cut flower growing game, may I suggest you consider treating yourself to a handsome and dedicated biennials bed. Biennial flowers will be the first to give you blooms in the early spring…my Wallflowers ‘Cloth Of Gold’ started flowering in March this year…this early splodge of colour gives one a glorious  respite from that disreputable old toad we have come to know as winter.

Many Biennials are flowers that our Grandparents would have known well…but who lost favour over the last couple of decades, victims of an ever increasing clamour for instant gratification. Foxgloves, Sweet Williams and Honesty were exchanged for petrol station Gerberas…Wallflowers, Icelandic Poppies and Hesperis were paved over, their  place taken by over made up supermarket bunches that loiter in the foyer like cheap hotel prostitutes.

These commercial harlots masquerade as flowers but I carry no truck with them…I’d rather take a little time…do a little loafing…feel the sun stretch out on my back when I sow up my beds…what’s the rush. We need to take a leaf out of the Caramel rabbit’s book.

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Biennials are generally sown in June and July (though many growers sow throughout August too) and they will flower the following spring. If you are short on bed space it is worth bearing in mind that if you sow in pots (as in the photo above) you can plant out your seedlings in mid September in beds that held your annual flowers…this way the bed is in constant use.

Foxglove 'Alba'...thanks to David Tanner for this photo.
Foxglove ‘Alba’…thanks to David Tanner for this photo.


It seems every season I make more room for biennials…they are sturdy beasts and are very productive to boot…even from my humble 8 ft by 3 ft Sweet William patch I have more blooms than I know what to do with. I have been dropping bunch after bunch at the old folks home…they love them…and it makes me feel smug and deserving….everyone’s a winner.

Thanks to 'Jane On Aran' (Twitter) for this Hesperis of the beautiful biennials to my mind. Have 378 points minus 58 for not remembering what it was called.
Thanks to ‘Jane On Aran’ (Twitter) for this Hesperis pic…one of the most  beautiful biennials to my mind.


The Higgledy Biennials Collection has 20% discount on the collective price of 11 varieties…it also comes with FREE shipping…which is jolly nice isn’t it?

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy

Related posts:

Ten Reasons Why You Should Have A Dedicated Biennials Patch.

How To Grow Honesty From Seed.

Sweet Pea ‘Charlie’s Angels’.

Sweet Pea 'Charlie's Angels'
Sweet Pea ‘Charlie’s Angels’

It was evil Auntie Switch Blade Higgledy who put me on to  Sweet Pea ‘Charlie’s Angels’…she said the frilly, powder blue blooms tickled her evil gland delightfully. Not having an evil gland myself, I can’t comment…but having grown ‘Charlie’s Angels’ for a few years I must say they become very moreish to the senses.

The flowers are tremendously  reliable..I have three plants growing this season and I have a good jam jar sized harvest every few days…all from spring sown seeds.

They have a good scent…not as knockout as ‘Painted Lady‘ or ‘Perfume Delight’ but still fantastic…and the stems are the longest of all my Sweet Peas this year which I know is vital to you commercial growing types.

Sweet pea Charlie’s Angels was chosen by BBC Gardeners World magazine (July 2011) as the best ever sweet pea…this of course is very subjective…personally I think Auntie Switch Blade had got to the editor. (My own favorite (which changes every year) is ‘Winston Churchill)

‘this exceptional variety blooms for a long period and has superb perfume making it good for garden display, cut blooms or showing. ‘Charlie’s Angel’ Gardener’s World.

Sweet Pea ‘Charlie’s Angels’  has the RHS Medal of Distinction…teacher’s pet….

I sell ‘Charlie’s Angels’ at £2.10 for 20 seeds…they are also in my ‘Sweet Pea Collection’.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy