Cutting garden in a container
by Rhiannon James
Homegrown cut flowers are a lovely way to add colour and character to the house but out in the garden, shorn rows of stalks aren’t quite so pretty. The way to have plenty of blooms in both places, even if space is limited, is to use prolifically-flowering plants. Some, such as sweet peas and cosmos, produce a whole flush of new flowers when the current ones are cut, while others have so much blossom, a few borrowings aren’t missed. Put these types in a planter or patch and you’ll have a bevy of blooms to cut and to keep from late spring right through to the autumn.
Things you’ll need
1. A large container – we’ve used an old tin bath but you could also try a wooden planter or an old opaque plastic storage crate
2. A sunny spot out of the wind – most flowers that are good for cutting prefer full sun.
3. Some horticultural grit
4. Some compost
5. Plants or seeds: look particularly for things labelled as repeat-flowering or as having cut-and-come again flowers. We used cottage garden classics: cornflowers, nigella, cosmos, scabious and gypsophila for a pretty, vintage look that’ll provide blooms right through to the autumn. You could also try sweet peas, cleome, zinnias, sunflowers and many more. Cutting gardens usually have foliage plants as well as flowers but to maximise the blooms, it’s easier to raid the rest of the garden for greenery – we might use ivy, ferns and herbs to complement our cottage garden plants.
6. A watering can
Step by Step
1. Make sure your container has some holes in the base to let water drain out.
2. Then add a layer of gravel to improve drainage further.
3. Next, add compost to the container, firming it in as you go, until you reach the point where you can start planting or sowing your seeds.
4. If you’re using plants, arrange them on top of the compost before you take them out of their pots. If you want your container to look good on all sides, put the plants that will grow tallest in the middle and the shorter ones around the edge but if it’s going against a wall or fence, put the biggest specimens at the back.
5. Take one plant at a time out of its pot and fill around with compost until the container is finished (to make watering easier, just make sure there’s a small gap between the compost and the top of the container). Then water the plants in well.
6. If you’re growing hardy annuals from seed, these can be sown straight into the container. Water the compost first to provide the moisture the seeds need to germinate. Then sow the seeds evenly over the surface and cover them with a thin layer of compost (check the depth recommended on the packet). Try to keep the soil moist but not soaked. Once the seedlings appear, keep thinning them until you get to the spacing suggested on the seed packet.
7. Then all you need to do is to keep your container well-watered; feed the plants once the nutrients in the compost have run out and stake as needed so the flower stems don’t get snapped by the wind.