Friday, 4 April 2014

Perennial starter plants

If you have been reading this blog for a while you may remember that last year I reviewed a variety of plants from Plant me Now, an online plant nursery.  The plants were always well grown and everything I had from them last year  has survived really well so I was very pleased to be asked to review some perennials for them this spring.

I am on a bit of a mission to increase the number of perennials in my cutting garden.  I have so far relied heavily on annuals and grown most of them from seed.  This is fine when you have the time and attention to devote to seed raising but this year is not the year for that.  I can pretty much guarantee that if I disappear down to Devon  every couple of weeks for a few days things will die and I can do without that.  The garden has to sustain me this year and not be too hard work.  It has to be somewhere that restores and recharges my batteries (is that possible?  not looking too likely just now with the march of the creeping buttercup and the return of the monster bindweed.)  Anyway, I digress.

I love echinacea, its a great favourite with pollinating insects and it works really well as a cut flower so I decided to devote one whole square of the patchwork which is the cutting garden to echinacea.


As before the plants are sturdy and well grown with good root systems.  Some came as starter plants in these square pots and these will be potted on in a couple of weeks.  Some came as plug plants and these I potted up into square pots as soon as they arrrived.  I will grow everything on in the greenhouse for another few weeks and put them out when they have a hope of being big enough to survive marauding slugs.

I have chosen four varieties of echinacea:

Double scoop cranberry
Pow wow white
Pow wow wild berry

Sombrero Lemon yellow


These are all images from plant me now.  I rarely use double flowers but I really liked the shade of the double scoop.  I am hoping that there will be so many flowers which are readily accessible to pollinators that I can indulge myself.

I have also received some gaillardia and some monarda bergamo.


monarda bergamo

It is the attention to detail that I like about plant me now.  The packaging is sturdy and efficient and I have never had a delivery which has been in any way damaged.  All the labels are clear and they can be transferred from the original packaging to my new square pots very easily.  The plants don't appear to be grown too "soft".  They are not floppy and sappy and over large so that they collapse and sulk when they arrive in my coldish greenhouse up here on the hill.

Now I really must dig over the cutting garden and put lots of compost on to give everything the best start in life.  I try not to have to feed constantly but conditions here are not that easy and it really helps to give everything a good start.  It also helps if plants go in reasonably small and grow to maturity in our stony soil.

I am dreaming of a long hot summer like last year's, with bees on the monarda, clouds of butterflies and a rug under the sycamore tree.

Do you have any other suggestions for a more perennially focussed cutting garden?  I already have lupins, rudbeckia and achillea and I always grow a lot of dahlias.  I suspect I need more foliage plants but am a bit stumped as to what will really earn its keep.

27 comments:

  1. I wish I could buy plants like that here in Italy. There's no shortage of starter vegetables but flowers (who grows flowers?). I'm just starting my cuttings garden and intend to have some perennials; I've moved some Knautia and was thinking of some Aster as their season is quite long here.

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    1. I should try asters. Thanks. That's a great idea. Funny how focussed on annuals my thinking about the cutting garden has become.

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  2. I love those echinacea Elizabeth. I don't have a cutting garden but I do split plants up often in the Autumn, discarding the old middle and then splitting the outside. One of my favourites is achillea - in fact, I love all plants with a green and/or cream flower. I have quite a few varieties of hellebore - but they seed so freely I don't need to do anything.

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    1. I have lots of hellebores too. Love them but have never really cracked keeping them going as c

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  3. Hello Elizabeth;

    We always considered Echinacea [particularly 'White Swan'] to be such garden worthy perennials. We were also never without Japanese Anemones which provided interest over a long growing period. Monarda was always a problem for us with mildew but yours may not be affected in that way.

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    1. I really love monarda and hope it thrives. I love japanese anemones too and thought they were very tough but I haven't managed to establish them here. And yes to White Swan, lovely plant!

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  4. Que flores tan bonitas¡¡, te felicito por tu entrada es preciosa, besos desde España

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  5. I haven't a clue , I'm afraid , but I always want lots of pansies and snapdragons , if I can . Neither cutting plants , now I come to think about it !
    But I know that your garden will look wonderful , however little time you can give it this year .

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    1. Snapdragons are an interesting idea. They will grow here and there is really no reason why they should not be used as a cut flower....

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  6. This is exactly what I have been thinking organising my garden: perennials. I love few varieties of annuals: sunflower, sweet peas, calendula, nasturcium and night scented stock, but it does need a lot of work, especially if you grow some veggies.

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    1. I agree that annuals are harder work which is why I am trying to move to more cutting perennials! Somehow it is always the annual favourites which spring to mind.

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  7. How lovely to stumble on your blog!
    Gardening was my passion when we lived on Long Island. In Manhattan I have to make do with the roof and 'tree pits'. Will add you to my side bar.

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    1. Now what is a tree pit? I do love roof gardens. They have a particular magic!

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  8. Delighted to see you here. I am sorry that I don't have enough Spanish to respond in your own language but do hope you will come again!

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    1. that was meant to be a response to Soria! sorry.

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  9. How about agastache, much loved by bees. Also perennial wallflower Bowles's mauve - growing very sturdily in my Scottish garden, and is in flower now and will continue through the summer. The bees adore it. How about clump-forming geraniums. Some are very attractive to bees, such as 'Ingwersen's Variety', and geranium phaeum. For something sturdier that will stand through the winter, consider a pieris. Bees are also attracted to that. Helenium, for autumn food for the bees?
    I've just placed a big order with Crocus, so will be interested to see how their packaging compares with your experience. Ideally I would have ordered from a more local nursery to save the transport impact on the environment, but I'm afraid they had an offer I couldn't refuse!

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    1. I have a lot of hardy geraniums elsewhere but I never think of cutting them! Do they last? Helenium is a great idea too. Must try.

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  10. I'm currently focusing on pollinator friendly plants, so these will be my first choices. I'm interested in the choices you've made, Monarda has long been a favourite of mine. I like the look of the different echinacea, too.

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    1. I am really hoping that the monarda will thrive as I know bees love it. My soil might be a touch too sharp draining for it. More compost (again!).

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  11. Hello Elizabeth,

    How about foxgloves? They tend to reseed so that may work for you. I also love aquilegia (also self seeding). Does Salvia do well in your part of the world?

    Please do let us know what you settle on.

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    1. I have foxgloves too but not in the cutting garden. I might have a try with them. They do make a spectacular cut flower and I tend to be reluctant to cut them in the border. Both aquilegia and salvia do well. I have never cut salvia though. perhaps I should!

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  12. Rudbeckias, Liatris, Peonies, Delphiniums and Alchemilla Mollis are a few of the perennials I like for cutting. I love Echinaceas; there are more mouth watering hybrids every year.

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    1. I would love to grow delphiniums but they die here with a quiet determination that is putting me off. I do grow alchemilla all over the place and it is fabulous as the foliage plant for cutting. Liatris I have never tried so will investigate!

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  13. You really started me thinking with this one, there are so many, but so many have issues with being used as cut flowers - it's hard to remember which ones last really well. Here are my suggestions, campanula Highcliffe or latiloba (I think campanulas deteriorate when they are fertilised so perhaps pick in bud), inula hookeri, eryngiums, helianthus Lemon Queen, alstroemeria, cephalaria alpina, and how about astrantia, which is so lovely close to. Malva moschata is very sweet and wild looking. No idea how well it lasts in water. I grow, and then forget to pick.

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    1. I very much like the idea of eryngium! I have lots of astrantia here but rarely cut it. Perhaps I should rethink. It is so interesting to have suggestions which kick me out of my comfort zone when I didn't even realise I was in one!

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  14. I don't think I could add anything to these good suggestions but I do like the new look of your blog. Now you'll tell me that it's been like this for ages…

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  15. Like you we're bashed by wind so perennials have to be fairly tough. At present I'm having reasonable success with Tellima Grandiflora which will spread and is a great ground cover as well as having delicate little flower stalks, Liatris does well, astrantia, Japanese Anenomes for late flowers?

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Comments are great. Thank you for taking the time!