Day 36 of the 100 day project

Another pause in the 100 day project because of a quick trip to the West of Ireland to the Loop Head Peninsula.  Lovely, lively interesting place with a classic mixture of Irish weather: some blasting wind and rain, some showers and sunshine, some drizzle and some sun and warm hospitality.  And now I am back again knowing that I must engage with the 100 day project of lose it.  And I don't want to lose it, so here goes.


Yesterday and today have been full of sunshine and warmth.  The light and warmth pull me outside, like iron filings to a magnet.  I had breakfast and lunch outside yesterday and lunch outside again today.  I have been trying to do something about the cutting garden.


The cutting garden sits in the field by the orchard, two large squares made into a chequerboard of eight spaces for planting.  I always wanted a cutting garden.  I love flowers in the house but when I had a smaller garden I often found myself reluctant to cut flowers because of the holes they left in the borders.  Here there is plenty of space and double the need for cut flowers because we always put some in the holiday cottage.  So after a couple of years of buying flowers at great expense we took the plunge and lifted the turf for a cutting garden.  I planted two crosses of tiny box plants to delineate the space.  They are about eighteen inches high now and a chunky, proper presence.  Perhaps for five years or so I kept the squares empty of perennial things and grew annuals from seed every year.  I look back at my garden diary from the days when I spent two or three days a week in the garden and I am surprised to discover how many things I tried, and how many things didn't really deliver when they were transferred from the seed trays in the greenhouse to outside: bells of Ireland, cerinthe major, ammi majus.  And how many things did thrive: cosmos, euphorbia oblongata, cornflowers, and sweet peas, as long as the trench was manured or composted to a ridiculous degree.

When time got tight with family responsibilities I changed one square over to perennial euphorbia palustris and a yellow achillea and began to restrict myself to the things I knew would grow.  I had one season the year my father died when all that was planted were sweet pea seedlings and cosmos which I got from the nursery and since then I have often bought in seedlings of sweet peas and cosmos.  Last year I turned another two squares over to perennials, introducing different grasses.  One of these squares I really like, one is disappointingly scruffy.

I have spent two hours weeding the weedfilled cutting garden and I am really unsure what to do with it.  It is too late in the season now I think to grow much from seed (but maybe not??) and I am really unsure about how to go forward with it.  I will definitely give a couple of squares over to cosmos, bought as seedlings now I think.  It grows well up here, has lovely foliage as well as flower and produces flowers which always look good in a vase.


But that still leaves two or three squares at least.  Do I plant more perennials or grasses, regardless of whether they work as cut flowers and aim for something easier to look after?  After all it doesn't have to be a cutting garden.  I could just call it something else.  Do I plant perennials but try to keep the sense of a cutting garden, and if so, what?  Do I try to grow some things from seed?  I might direct sow opium poppies and cornflowers although I think it is a bit late but they don't work there is nothing really lost.  Do I buy in lots of annual seedlings and boost the soil as much as I can and try to reclaim the idea of a cutting garden?  Do I plant up a couple of squares with more box just for the lovely evergreen chunkiness of it all and let flower go?  I really can't decide.

Any thoughts or suggestions very welcome!



And here, just because it is beautiful and fleeting and I want to share it with you, is the first blossom opening on our magnolia.

Comments

  1. What a lot of work it all sounds like. I'd be inclined to go for the annual seedlings and boost the soil as it sounds like the least onerous option. You'd have to weigh the cost of buying cut flowers against the cost of seedlings and soil amendment. I have stolen a minute to read this and am going back outside to try to repair some of the damage the deer did overnight. They ate things they normally ignore - Scabiosa, Salvia etc and not I am going to dig up the remains and replant what I can into a fenced area. I guess it will all be heather and lavender from hereon.

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    1. Well at least we don't have deer! We do however have badgers! I'm still musing about this but I am inclined to have some annual seedlings. So much choice!

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  2. Sweet peas, Cornflowers, Poppies ... just for the colours., and the bees.
    Mind you, I still haven't planted any seeds yet this year.

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    1. Yes, I will definitely have a go at poppies and cornflowers from seed and sweetpeas as seedlings. We have had a long cold winter and late cold spring so it is a bit of a surprise to find it is May and sunny and delightful out there and no seeds sown at all!

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  3. What about snapdragons, they are readily available as bedding plants, cut well and flower for a long time. Mixed with your cosmos and sweet peas that should provide lots of vases. On the perennial side of the border have you considered using Dicentra eximia for cutting? Not so much for the flowers but the foliage, especially from one of the blue leaved varieties, is lovely mixed into bunches.

    Direct sowing poppies and cornflowers sounds a good idea and if they don't manage much this year then it is likely some will pop next year. Gardener's mantra, there is always next year.

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    1. Oh thank you. I like both those ideas. I am pretty sure snapdragons will grow for me but less sure about the dicentra. I might have a go with just one and see! Thank you for taking the trouble to write!

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  4. Annuals or perennials; a hard choice. I have decided that in the long run annuals are not any more trouble or expensive than perennials. Here in Pennsylvania, USA, it is easy to
    grow zinnias, bachelor buttons, and marigolds from seed. Also nasturtiums which should be soaked before planting, and grow well in poor soil. That being said, my favorite perennial is crocosmia which I first saw in Ireland, so maybe it would work for you. Torch lily, allium, and coreopsis are very hardy here and have a long bloom time which most perennials do not have.
    BTW, your magnolia is beautiful. Right now we have redbud, lilacs, and dogwood in full bloom; always around Mother's Day.

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    1. It is so interesting how our different climates and soils make for different plant choices. I have failed comprehensively with zinnias! I don't think our growing season is warm enough for them. I know they grow well in the south of England but it must be a bit cold for them up here in Wales. I love alliums and have lots of them but I hadn't thought of coreopsis. I must give it a try and thank you for the suggestions!

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  5. Oh, it's a lemon magnolia! We have one growing in the little garden of the unit a few floors below us, and its blooms are just beginning to open now -- that colour is sublime. . .

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    1. It is very beautiful. I have another one which is not yet in flower. Watching for it.

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