Well what a difference a year makes, this time last year was scorching, we had 40 degree temperatures and we had a drought. This year in July we have had a LOT of rain. The garden has been a bit battered by all the heavy downpours and we’ve had quite a bit of wind. This weather is a test of whether your plants support structures work! I’ve had a bit of flopping with some of the perennials in the garden but on the whole my annuals have all been fine. Even my sunflowers some of which have grown a lot taller than I expected! The rain has rejuvenated my sweet peas and lots of things have flowered for longer. July has seen the start of the Dahlias, Cosmos, Sunflowers and the Zinnias. But one of my favourites this month has been Larkspur ‘Imperials’ many of which were a gorgeous vibrant blue or purple.
This posy also includes the Cosmos ‘Purity’, Salvia viridis, Zinnia ‘Mammoth’, the lovely sky blue Cynoglossum amabile ‘Firmament’, Borage, Achillea ‘The Pearl’ and supporting foliage from white Origanum.
Its been a busy couple of weeks in my other job at Bluebell Cottage nursery, end of July is Tatton week and we have a stand in the floral marquee, we have had a mad few weeks ahead of the show. Prepping show plants and plants to sell at the show and then a busy time at the show. Its a full on week but I love it and feel very lucky to be involved. We got a Gold medal for the Bluebell Cottage nursery display, my boss Sue Beesley created such a beautiful display and we had such a lovely selection of plants, many of which we sold out of! More on my Instagram page if you want to have a look.
So my garden has been a bit neglected but I’ve still managed to get picking most weeks as new flowers and colours are coming out. The sweet peas have not been quite as good this year I think largely due to that hot dry spell in late spring but after some rain and keeping them well fed with seaweed feed they have revived somewhat and I’ve been getting some nice long stems, especially from ‘Jilly’, ‘Nimbus’ and I’ve especially loved the vibrant dark red of ‘Winston Churchill’.
Some of the autumn flowering annuals like Cornflowers, Orlaya, Corncockle are going over now and really I need to get them out and get the space ready for some of the biennials which I sowed in June. I’ve pricked and potted on into 9cm pots. The wallflowers especially don’t like sitting around for too long in pots and prefer a space in the ground.
The tiny stars of my cutting garden in July have got to be the annual Phlox which I never seem to grow enough of. They just flower and flower from now until October and are just such great flowers to support the more vibrant Zinnias and Cosmos. Here in close up is the delicious Phlox ‘Creme Brulee’ with Amberboa muricata and a second picking of Canterbury bells. Cosmos ‘Apricotta’ (another variety I’m trying to persuade Ben to stock!) is the other star in this posy.
Anyone been growing Nicotiana? What a plant, teeny tiny seeds, bit fiddly to pot on and you think gosh these will take ages to grow but then they just take off and grow super fast and in no time you are planting them in your garden. They are really good flowers. I have grown two varieties from Higgledy, Nicotiana ‘Sensation’ which has quite big flowers and lovely scent so thats a winner, they come in a mix of colours from whites to pale pink to dark purple. Good scent especially in the evening as often pollinated by moths. But I think for arrangements I prefer the more delicate flowers of N. ‘Starlight Dancer’ (new for Higgledy this year) they looks fab dangling little heads through the bouquet to give a bit of movement. Lovely creamy flowers with a lime coloured back. Also grown a nice browny purple one called ‘Bronze Queen’.
Zinnias are now flowering well and there is a lot of wiggling going on to check if they are ready to pick. I only learnt this last year but if when you wiggle they are floppy then they are not ready for picking. If they are sturdy and steady then get out the snips.
Here is the glorious Zinnia ‘Purple Prince’, another new one for Higgledy this year.
So plenty to be picking but also starting to think ahead for what to grow next year. Ben will be doing a promo in August for seeds to sow in the autumn to get good sturdy early flowers next spring. So keep your eyes peeled.