Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Cutting Garden

It's nice to have something that is "starting" in this season of "ending", so working on the cutting garden has been especially satisfying.
An old photo, but you can see plenty of empty space.
Inspired by Belinda (Wild Acre) to jump off and create a new space, I am stretching my gardening limits for next year.  Long dedicated to perennials, I am trying my hand at annual cutting flowers.  Obviously, I do cut my perennials, but this is a major change in focus.  Adequate sun was my first concern, so I looked to the only  place - well, other than smack dab in the middle of the front yard - that gets significant sun most of the year.  It's a long straight strip of yard on one side - a strip we call the "bowling alley".  With no entrance to the house on that side, it's somewhat forgotten.  You know, the part of the yard that you only visit because you want to go there.   My office overlooks it, so I will be able to keep an eye on this experiment as it grows.

In September I laid out a bed and killed the grass.  It's about 25 feet long and 4 feet wide.  I used the existing Japanese maple and camellia bush as anchors.  There is plenty of room to expand next year.  Yes, I am already thinking I need more space. 
Once all the grass was dead and gone - "gone" involving digging it all out by hand, since I couldn't get my tiller started! - I started planting in mid-September.  Love-in-the-Mist, Bachelor's Buttons, larkspur, and poppies in many four-foot rows.
After a month, I do have plants.  Not as many as I had hoped in some areas, so I have replanted more nigella and larkspur.  I think the poppies are not supposed to be up yet.  I think they were planted in the fall so that they could germinate in the earliest warm days next spring.  Belinda told me that they would look like weeds are winter, but I think their fairly neat rows make it clear that they are invited.

The next step is to build a raised bed for sweet peas.  Maybe next weekend...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall's Best

Even as it's starting to get cooler - not colder yet, just cooler - the garden is still producing a limited variety of blooms, with some of the chrysanthemums still to come.

After some deadheading this morning, I moved on to cutting a few blossoms to bring inside... heliotrope from a container, plus chrysanthemums, buddelia, mini-roses, and asters.

You've probably noticed that my first choice for a container is always glass.  Turns out, that's all I have.  Seriously.  Not a single opaque container to my name!  I have just realized that "clear" carries an extra challenge - hiding the stems.
I stole an idea from someone, and used some Solomon's Seal.  I removed all the leaves from one side of the stem and then cut it to fit the length of the vase.  That left me with varigated leaves to line the sides, and with glass pebbles added, I had something to hold the stems that doesn't really show.
Belinda (Wild Acre) says I need to find the bride flowers and the bridesmaids, but I couldn't figure that out, so I just started layering in the flowers - checking both sides for balance.  First, the heliotrope because its dense leaves also provide a way to support the stems of the other flowers.

Next, the chrysanthemums and asters.  Finally, the mini-roses for a pop of white.  My grandfather always liked the white flowers in a garden, because he thought they made the colored flowers look better.  I think that is true in the vase, too.

And, finally the buddelia to give it both height and length.  Lo, and behold, it works!  A breath of the outside on the dining room table, filled with the pinks and purples of fall.  Now we're ready for good friends who are coming to visit tomorrow.  It's all good!