Designing The Layout Of Your Cut Flower Patch.

The Higgledy clan have been designing and creating cut flower gardens since prehistory and certainly at least one of us was a time traveller from the future…so it is hard to yet ascertain just how long we’ve been at it. I think I am right it saying it was my great ancestor Iohannes Fluke-Higgledy who was the head of flower production at the monastery on Lindisfarne in the 13th Century…who wrote that he thought ‘simplicity was the greatest luxury’. The Higgledy family since then have kept that as a mantra…well….with the exception of Margot Slipknot-Higgledy the famous Elizabethan escapologist who insisted on having an underwater cutting garden…with no exits…and infested with box jellyfish…

Mixed beds...I love em.
Mixed beds…I love em.

Other than keeping it simple there are a few straight forward rules…or guidelines you can choose to follow which will make your life much easier…but do expect some things to change when you start digging and planting…it just happens…it’s ok. I have never once created a cutting garden that followed my plan exactly. Nonetheless planning is a worthwhile experience and is swimmingly good fun to boot.

Where To Place Your Cutting Garden.

Uniform beds...I like em too....just not as much.
Uniform beds…I like em too….just not as much.

*Sun. In the cutting garden sunshine is our friend. The majority of the flowers you will be growing will be annuals. Most annuals are sun worshippers and will skulk and sulk in the shade…don’t put them through it. I would estimate anything less than six or seven hours of full sun is a minimum. Positioning your patch in a shady corner just ain’t gonna cut the mustard.

*Protection. Not protection from the hooded claw, wolves or Mrs Gunter’s ferret but protection from the wind. Many of flowers will grow tall and the willowy creatures can easily be toppled in a storm If you haven’t got a sheltered position perhaps think about some willow fencing…or picket fencing or some windbreak fabric. If you have rabbits in the garden you will need to fence them out…I use chicken wire….well…actually I use rabbit wire….£40 I think it was for fifty metres.

*Water. Preferably you will want a water source close to your flower patch. I generally let my flowers just get on with it after they have become established and would only water them in very prolonged periods of hot and dry weather…prolonged dry spells are rare down here in Costa Del Cornwall but when I had flower patches in East Anglia it was more of an issue. Certainly newly seeded beds shouldn’t be left to totally dry out so a tap or water butt is super handy to have at hand.

How Wide To Make The Flower Beds.

This is my Mylor Bridge plot...these beds were a little over a metre wide...wish I had slimmed them just a fraction.
This is my Mylor Bridge plot…these beds were a little over a metre wide…wish I had slimmed them just a fraction.

I STRONGLY recommend if are new to productive flower growing that you adhere to a structured approach to making your flower beds.

Beds should be three foot wide. (I’m going to stick with imperial measurements….flowers don’t seem to like metric .) You will be growing your flowers in straight rows a foot apart. This will make your life much easier…by being able to spot what is a weed and what is not…and by being able to reach the centre of the bed from each side will save you treading on your beds….which is very naughty.

In my allotment plot I have a simple design of three foot beds…and three foot paths…in eight metre long beds running across the plot. In the walled garden at Port Eliot I ignore my own good advice and have 6 rows of flowers…it’s much harder to keep weed free but it looks more impressive…and that patch is a show garden for the wonderful Port Eliot festival and so drama is essential.

You can of course design the paths and beds to run in whatever pattern you like….there are some wonderful publications about that offer some planting plan ideas…try @wellwoman‘s AKA Louise Curley’s book ‘The Cut Flower Patch’ has some great ideas in it. Mrs Raven also has great book ‘How To Grow Your Own Cut Flowers’…she also sells flower seeds….but I should prefer it if you bought mine. Thank you. 😉

For my own tastes I tend to mix my flowers up in a meadow type vibe…once plants are established you can’t see that they were planted in rows and the whole patch takes on a rustic feel…I call this the ‘Port Eliot Mode’…because it  makes me feel smug.

And that my friends is all there is to it……yes I DID start a sentence with ‘And’…I’m in my forties…I’ll do what I like.

I shall be writing every day (every school day at least) over October and November…I hope you enjoy Autumn Flower School…please share the pages with your friends and please buy my seeds if you decide to give a cutting patch a go.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy.




6 thoughts on “Designing The Layout Of Your Cut Flower Patch.

  1. And we’re off !
    Lovely first lesson. Informative and super photos.
    I’m looking forward to a preparation digging lesson – double digging maybe?

  2. Great advice. Followed it to the letter ( well pretty much) and had such fun with the annuals this summer. Have added two more rows- one for hardy annuals and one for biennials….. fingers crossed that the pesky rabbits keep out over the winter!!

  3. Really looking forward to flower school. Lovely pictures as ever, and with a bit of luck I will learn what not to pull up by mistake…………..

  4. Thank you for a great post! Full of humour and useful advice! Will be trying out some cut flowers next year and will def be coming back to you for the seeds! Thanks!

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