With a garden full of my favorite perennials, there never seem to be enough flowers to cut for the house. So, for years I have wanted a cutting garden.
Not that I haven't tried. I've planted lots of zinnias over the years and a cosmos or two, but I've never had a real cutting garden. Enter the generous Belinda from Wild Acres. Last fall she did a seminar [bloginar?] on how to start a cutting garden. I learned two things: that gardening conditions in England are not that different from those in Central Virginia, and that I needed a new approach - no more sticking a few annuals in among ("amongst", Belinda would say) the perennials and shrubs. I needed a new garden.
Space is still in good supply in the yard, so I took [what seemed at the time to be] a big chunk out of the unused side yard - which fortunately gets 6-8 hours of morning sun during the growing season. It will be visible from the street once there are flowers to see, and my office window overlooks it, so I can keep track of what's happening "down there".
You know the tricks. Last September I laid out the space with a hose and walked around it for a few days; then added Roundup. A week later and a lot of spade work and voila!
Belinda had provided a list of flowers that she recommended - many of which were unfamiliar to me - so I dived into the fall seed catalogs [did you know that spellchecker doesn't like "catalogue"?] and placed orders with Rebecca's and Stokes seeds as well as orders at Brecks and Brent and Becky's bulbs. And the seeds came rolling in! Such fun to read and re-read the packages and plan what needed to go where.
You also know what happened next. By the time I had planted half of the fall seeds, my bed was nearly full and I still had many more packages for spring planting. Snug in the bed were nigilla, stock, larkspur, poppies, and bachelor's buttons. Following Belinda's instructions, I watered and then watched them all winter. She said they would look like weeds, but since I planted in stick-straight rows, it was easy to tell that they are not weeds!
Clearly they did well this winter, because the local rabbits took to dining on the larkspur. I had to cover part of the bed until they got tall enough to not be tender and delicious!
Which brings us to this Wednesday Workday. I have finished planting this bed - maybe. You can see that stock, larkspur, nigilla and bachelor's buttons are growing well. I actually need to thin some of them a good bit. This week I planted seeds for scabiosa. Only three spindly little poppies have come up, so I am thinking that they may not make it and I will replant that section with more scabiosa - but will give it two more weeks.
And I have cleared a second full bed for astrantia and dahlias and a smaller area in the perennials. Brent and Becky sent me a little something yesterday and Breck's has a shipment on its way from Holland. Much more planting in my near future. Thanks, Belinda!
What could be nicer than watching the seasons come and go in the garden. I hope to retire in about three years and spend more time just digging in the dirt. I'm not a professional gardener, but enjoy putting my hands in the dirt and seeing what happens.
For now, let's enjoy it together!