Annual Flowers for cutting, lots to love about them.

Twitter Hour Monday 6th February, hosted by Benjamin Ranyard@Higgledy Garden and notes by Jill Smith@Binnington Blooms

cornflowers

Annual Flowers – what do you love about them.

I think the notes should start with what we love about Benjamin at Higgledy Garden, he makes flower growing great fun, well hilarious actually whilst at the same time sharing a wealth of knowledge and sound practical advice.

True to form the twitter hour started off by departing from the appointed subject and sharing a few disco tunes.  So recommendations to listen to whilst gardening away include:  Bon Jovi ‘Bed of Roses’, The Cult ‘Wild Flower’, Oasis ‘Morning Glory’, The Muppets (or is it John Denver) ‘The Garden Song’ or even Sir Terry’s ‘The Floral Dance’!

Discussions on annuals resulted in a lot of chatter and even more wonderful photographs but I have tried to draw together just the comments which shared useful tips and advice.

Firstly a very useful discussion centered around peat free compost, four brands were recommended as being tried and tested by growers, SylvaGrow, New Horizon, Dalefoot and Fertile Fibre.  All can be researched on the web and local stockists are listed on all sites.  Other growers recommended making their own using a coir base or various sources of animal manure (donkeys and Alpaca were mentioned).

Now for the flower notes:

Sweet peas – to achieve long straight stems, grow them by the cordon method.   When small pinch out growing tips, then select the strongest shoot as a single stem.  Grow up canes, tying in regularly and remove all side shoots.

Zinnia – are prone to mould so advice on avoiding this is, keep dry, well ventilated and in full sun.  Grow in rich soil with good drainage and add compost.

Didiscus – can be difficult to germinate, try on a cool windowsill with a dusting of compost and they should germinate in 21 days.

Orlaya Grandiflora – another difficult one to cultivate.  Suited to sandy or chalky soil but not heavy clay.  Sow in peat free or seed compost and use fresh seed.

Ammi – self seeds readily, recommended to pot up self seeds and grow on until planting out time to achieve better quality.

Cosmos – there was a discussion around some of the new Cosmos varieties which are much shorter, Xanthos and Antiquity, some flower growers (but not all) found these two short to pick.  But it was pointed out that there is still a great choice amongst the taller varieties – Candy Stripe, Double Click, Cranberries.

Phaceilia – a very easy to grow annual which the bees love.  It needs good conditioning after picking and growing close together to achieve straight stems.

Nigella – another self seeding annual which produces stronger plants.  Popular for its foliage, seedheads and range of colours.  Delf Blue was recommended for being sturdy, longest lasting flowers and huge seedheads.  The rose coloured one is rather shorter but useful for flower crowns.

Gypsophila – variety Covent Garden was recommended, some growers found it a bit weak and straggly others had success and cut large amounts.

Calendula – there is a wide range of colours to grow and growers are finding them in demand as a cut flower.  It was pointed out they are useful in bringing in the predators.

Larkspur versus Cornflower – a never ending debate and I don’t suppose any of us could manage without either of them.  Both can fall victim to slugs so sow in trays or pot up self seeded and don’t plant out until plants are well established.  Cornflowers are easy to grow but time consuming to cut, try simply cutting with shears?  Larkspur has many uses not only as a cut flower, but dried and for confettii.

Finally – Why plant annuals – annuals can test you…but they give so much room for a new patch, each and every year.  It is lovely to regrow your favourites and add new ones each year.

Mr Higgeldy’s most useful advice at this time of the year – DON’T SOW TOO SOON  and of course you can find so much more information on his website.

The quote of the night – “I think the bees love #britishflowers as much as we all do”.