Category Archives: Cut Flower Growing Guides

Borago officinalis. Borage. The Lovable Rogue Of The Cutting Patch.

...yes its a thug...but Borage has a magical beauty and is underrated as a cut flower.
…yes its a thug…but Borage has a magical beauty and is underrated as a cut flower.

I was reticent to give Borage any space in my cutting garden..I knew what a beastly and troublesome cad he can become if left to self seed. However…we got to know each other and have become good friends. The bright blue, star shaped flowers seem to attract bees from all over the northern hemisphere to my plot down here in soggy Cornwall and in the vase Borage not only adds great colour and form but also gives a good base through which you can thread, poke and winkle your other flower stems into.

Growing Borage From Seed.

Thank you to @MrsEmma (Twitter) for this glorious photo of a honey bee having a swimmingly good time with his colleague, Borage.
Thank you to @MrsEmma (Twitter) for this glorious photo of a honey bee having a swimmingly good time with his colleague, Borage.

..frankly it’s very difficult not to grow Borage if you have some seeds…they are probably the easiest seeds to grow that I stock in the shop. Just cover them lightly with soil and give them a water…let them get on with it….space plants to about a foot apart.

Sow seeds in either early September or April….Borage is a hardy annual and laughs in the face of frost. Sow in pots if that is your fancy…

The Higgledy Garden Seed Shop.

Back in the days of old…it was the Christian crusaders who brought Borage back from Syria after they had finished fighting the native people over who had the best invisible friend….they would steep their wine in Borage before battle, believing it gave them courage. (In fact the word Borage is probably a derivative of courage)

Photo credit Sarah Robinson Designs
Photo credit Sarah Robinson Designs…thank you.

Young Borage leaves are edible and can be treated like spinach…the flowers are also edible…you may have seen that middle class folk can’t help but throw Borage at glasses of Pimms…this is hard wired into their brains…it comes from generations of training and breeding.

Borage flower in salad
Borage flowers in a tasty salad with Nasturtium, Sanguisorba and lettuce leaves (I made that cup, yes I did) Photo Credit: Karen Wells

Borage plays a role in my ‘Seeds To Sow In Late Summer And Early Autumn’ collection…which has 25% off the collective price of the 14 packets of seeds and also comes with free shipping.

If you don’t want your Borage all over the garden, it’s best to cut down the plants before they set seed…they compost down very well…and I imagine they are packed full of nitrogen as they have long tap roots…..but I may have made that up in my head.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy

Related posts you may be able to put up with:

Growing Godetia From A Late Summer Sowing.

Larkspur From Seed…a guide for the confused.

Why you should sow up a cutting patch bed in late summer/autumn.

 

 

Cosmos ‘Sensation’ From Seed, For The Cutting Patch.

Cosmos 'Sensation' grown by @plansandplants LOVE that colour!
Cosmos ‘Sensation’ grown by @plansandplants LOVE that colour!

Cosmos ‘Sensation’ is well know for producing mountains of flowers of wonderful, soft, ferny foliage. Flowers go from a ‘Purity’ style white…through to pinks and carmine. The stems are strong and long….perfect for cutting. Cosmos will also keep producing flowers as you harvest…a total darling in the cutting patch.

Cosmos is half hardy and therefore will get in a right flap if she gets anywhere near a frost…so…either sow outside after the frosts have gone northward or sow in pots from early April on a windowsill or in a greenhouse. Most seed suppliers will suggest you can sow throughout March…but the truth is this is usually unsatisfactory as plants just won’t get enough light…they will stretch and become ‘leggy’….and we don’t like this (not in plants anyway)…even if they survive..they will not flower any earlier than ones sown in April.

Cosmos 'Sensation' with Rudbeckia 'Marmalade' in the background.
Cosmos ‘Sensation’ with Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’ in the background.

I sow in three inch square pots….in mid May I harden the plants off and then plant them where I want them leaving about a foot of space between plants.

Cosmos generally flower from July….this year they didn’t really get going in my cutting patch until August…and even then…they weren’t as good as they could have been….it’s been a funny old year for annuals.

Cosmos plants will easily get to 120 cm…and often much more…in a good year I’ve had them to 6 ft…..hummm…what’s that? ….185 cm or thereabouts? Make sure they get a position that gets heaps of sunshine. (insert gag about British weather)

Photo Credit: Lamberly.co.au
Photo Credit: Lamberly.co.au

One thing to bear in mind is that Cosmos don’t like a soil that has been enriched with manure…if this is the case they will produce squat plants…with thick stems and lots of greenery….but fewer flowers. Think ‘soil structure’ rather than food…so by all means dig in some organic material…home made compost is good…this will help drainage but still retain moisture.

'Sensation' Seeds.
‘Sensation’ Seeds.

After Halloween I let my Cosmos go to seed and stop harvesting any flowers….Goldfinches get all gooey eyed over the seeds…and it’s a joy to have them in the garden. On the subject of wildlife…you will also attract bees and butterflies with your Cosmos.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy

Related scribbles:

Guide to growing Cosmos ‘Purity’

Flower Seeds To Sow In Late Summer & Autumn

Growing Didiscus From Seed.

 

Didiscus ‘Lacy’. For Your Cutting Patch.

I grew these Didiscus in my 'Bucket Garden'...'ansome they are too. Sadly the vans aren't mine...
I grew these Didiscus in my ‘Bucket Garden’…’ansome they are too. Sadly the vans aren’t mine…

I first started growing Didiscus ‘Lacy’ from seed when my Great Uncle Walter (deceased) visited me in the form of a charm of Goldfinches back in the spring of 2010. He told me, using a series of chirps and basic semaphore wing flaps, that growing Didiscus ‘Lacy’ would bring me great fortune and an endless supply of Jammy Dodgers. As the finches departed, one particularly finchy looking finch chirped, ‘You’ve gotta be in it to win it’…and so from that day to this I have grown ‘Lacy’ and am looking forward to my riches and high calorie low nutrition diet to fall at my feet at any moment.

I have found Didicus to be the unhurried old lady of the cutting patch. She won’t be rushed…she’s seen it all before…all in good time….one could be fooled into thinking the plant was native to Jamaica rather than Australia.

I grow ‘Madonna and Lacy Mix’ this is a great mix as you will have the splendid blue flowers and also the incredibly beautiful cream ones…you’ll get 100ish seeds in a packet for £1.95.

A swimmingly good blue wouldn't you say?
A swimmingly good blue wouldn’t you say?

For the cut flower garden these flowers are a true gem….I use them in loose arrangements with other country style flowers like Scabiosa, Cornflowers and Corncockles…and something citrus green to cool it down…Dill ‘Mammoth’ or Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’ will do the job rather well. Also adding something with some height improves your chances of impressing the vicar…Godetia ‘Crown’ works in this regard.

Top Tips or Growing Didiscus From Seed.

*I start mine off undercover from late March…or April. You can direct sow into the soil from May but sowing in pots seems to work better, for me at least

*Sow into modules or pots using a light soil or some good quality compost…or a mixture of both. I find 3 inch square pots are ideal and use them for most of my undercover sowing.

didiscus seeds
Didiscus Seeds

*Don’t bury them too deep…a light covering is fine…a dusting even.

*Keep your Didiscus seeds damp whilst they are getting jiggy with the germination thing…usually this will take about three weeks…this year they took much longer however…fickle critters.

*Germination can be erratic…so I tend to sow three or four seeds into each pot. Bare in mind you will only need nine plants per square meter.

Didiscus Seedling
Didiscus Seedling

*Don’t plant out your Didiscus seedlings until all threat of frost has gone…probably towards the end of May.

*I plant out a foot apart…but you could go a little less if the mood takes you.

*Plants can get to two foot and sometimes will be grateful for a little support if your plot is exposed…a few twigs spiked in the ground is usually enough.

*(This is a little geeky…) Didiscus flowers are what we call Ethylene sensitive…ethylene is produced from leaves that are below the water line in a vase…it is a by-product  of the decomposition process and will make flowers fade more quickly…so remove leaves that would otherwise be under water….this is a good practice with all arrangements. As with all flowers…changing the water everyday will SUBSTANTIALLY prolong the life of your flowers…yes…I know it’s a faff…but just do it and stop moaning.

Didiscus can be cream as well as blue.
Didiscus can be cream as well as blue.

If you are looking for seeds you can sow in a couple of weeks time…

Seeds To Sow In Late Summer/Autumn Collection. 25% Off. Free Shipping. £20. Fourteen packets of seeds delivered to your door. #Simples

I hope you have a wonderful weekend…please share this post if you think your digital chums would enjoy it…just click one of the buttons below. Thank you.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy.

Related postulations:

Growing Godetia From A Late Summer Sowing.

Larkspur From Seed…a guide for the confused.

 

 

Late Summer & Early Autumn Sowing Of Larkspur ‘Imperials’.

Larkspur 'Imperials'...'ansome!
Larkspur ‘Imperials’…’ansome!

The tall spires of Larkspur are a close relation of the Delphinium…in fact it could be considered an annual Delphinium. Nothing shouts cottage garden more than a swathe of Larkspur. Not only are they beautiful beasties in the garden…they are handsome devils in the vase too.

My ‘go to’ Larkspur have been ‘Giant Imperials’...this mix just seems to consistently do what is expected of it and the range of colours are easy to use as cut flowers.

Splendid looking patch of Larks. Photo credit: unknown.
Splendid looking patch of Larks. Photo credit: unknown.

Larkspur however can be erratic when germinating…and sometimes take eons to germinate and because of this they often get hoed up in their very early stages by folk who have seen their other seedlings emerge and presume the Larks have failed. So here are some tips:

Seeds To Sow In Late Summer/Autumn Collection. 25% Off. Free Shipping. £20. Fourteen packets of seeds delivered to your door. #Simples

*At Higgledy we make two direct sowings of Larkspur. The first in early spring…Larks don’t seem to mind being sown a little earlier than other annuals…late March is fine….though often I wait until I sow my other annuals in mid April…then mix ’em all up to create a meadow style patch. The second sowing I will make is late August or early September. Larkspur is hardy and the seedlings can take a frost.

Very healthy looking Larkspur seedling looking dandy.
Very healthy looking Larkspur seedling looking dandy.

*Larkspur aren’t fond or root disturbance and as such the general rule is not to sow them in pots with a view to transplanting. However I have found that if you sow into three inch square pots with well firmed down compost…you don’t need to disturb the roots much and they trot along nicely after being planted out. With this in mind you can make a sowing in mid(ish) September and leave them to strut their stuff in the greenhouse or cold frame over winter….then plant out in Spring.

*If you sow outside…it is best to sow in straight lines about a foot apart…this makes weeding 37 times easier…then thin out the seedlings when they are about a couple of inches tall to about a hand span apart.

Larkspur hanging out in the walled garden at Port Eliot.
Larkspur hanging out in the walled garden at Port Eliot.

*Great Uncle Swashbuckle Higgledy, the famous Larkspur grower and free style Morris dancer, would keep his Larkspur seeds in the fridge for a few weeks before sowing. I myself haven’t owned a fridge for a couple of years and my Larkspur patch doesn’t seem to have cottoned on to the fact.

For more  ideas on what annuals you can sow at the end of August and into September…click over to ‘Flowers to sow in late summer & autumn’.

Kind regards

Benjamin Higgledy

Related warblings:

Five Swimmingly Good Reasons To Start A Cutting Patch In Late Summer & Early Autumn.

 

Cosmos ‘Sensation’. All Time Classic.

Cosmos 'Sensation' with Rudbeckia 'Marmalade' in the background.
Cosmos ‘Sensation’ with Rudbeckia ‘Marmalade’ in the background.

Being an alpha male hunter gatherer type (and eligible bachelor with clean driving licence and own shed.)…my blokey eyes and blokey brain can’t distinguish pink from carmine from cochineal. I haven’t however let this get in the way of my love for Cosmos ‘Sensation’.

Cosmos ‘Sensation‘ has all the above colours and even a few creamy whites to add to the mix. The daisy like flowers float atop of strong stems amidst deep green ferny foliage. The flowers are abundant and keep coming back harvest after harvest. It is a dream plant for the cutting patch.

‘Sensation’ is easy to grow from seed….I start mine in 3 inch square pots at the beginning of April and plant out after the frosts in mid May. She will grow to about 140 cm tall and spread about 60 cm. I space my plants to about a foot apart. I usually mix my Cosmos ‘Purity‘ and ‘Sensation’ in the same bed…they are sociable plants and I get the impression they like to mingle.

Cosmos-Sensation-Mix

Being a half hardy annual they mustn’t face a frost…but you can direct sow in the soil after the frosts and they will do fine…just flowering a few weeks later into the season than ones sown in April….they will flower right up into November. I tend to stop harvesting flowers in my cutting patches on Halloween and let them go to seed for the birds . (I’m such a nice chap…renaissance man.)

You will see big name seed companies saying you can sow from February…I think this is probably a way of selling more seeds. If you had high powered lights and heated benches then I’m sure this wouldn’t be a problem….but to my mind suggesting you can sow that early is disinformation and should be ignored.

Cosmos seedling...or plantlet...probably about six weeks old.
Cosmos seedling…or plantlet…probably about six weeks old.

Cosmos ‘Sensation’ is an all time classic for the cutting patch…it was a huge favourite over the pond just before the war and won the 1936 AAS award (All American Selection). Indeed it has something of the 30’s about it. Bees and butterflies are also big into ‘Sensation’ and growing it can only help the biodiversity in your patch.

If you haven’t tried it then I suggest you do….you will LOVE it!

I sell Cosmos ‘Sensation’ at £1.95 for 80ish seeds.

Kind regards

Higg

PS Throughout January I am giving away a packet of Cosmos ‘Purity’ with every order.

Related posts:

Yeah olde vintage post on growing ‘Sensation’ from two years hence.

Growing Dill for the cutting patch.

Getting started with a cut flower patch.