Flower Farm: Summer jobs
We've dedicated a part of the patch to growing flowers just for picking.
And the bonus? Armfuls of flowers for vases and arrangements.
Queen anne’s lace Ammi visnaga
Free floating favourites
Chocolate lace flower (Daucus carota) and Queen Anne’s lace (Ammi visnaga) float romantically over our garden. They are easy to grow, pair well with almost anything in the garden or vase and bloom for most of the summer from just one planting. Pick when one half of the floret on a bloom is open. Wear gloves when harvesting to protect against the irritating sap. Flowers will last a week at least in a vase. Look too for the ‘Green Mist’ variety of Queen Anne’s lace, pictured.
Make a plan
For the best picks, plan the seasons: high summer stars heat-lovers like amaranth, zinnias, and basil; autumn shines with sunflowers, rudbeckia and asters; in late winter and early spring Iceland poppies, sweet peas and larkspur steal the show.
Sunflowers are a real heat-lover
Celosia flowers for weeks and thrives in hot, dry conditions. ‘Pampas Plume Mix’ has feathery flower heads that get bigger the long they are left.
Celosia 'Pampas Plume'
Moisten soil before sowing seeds as watering afterwards could dislodge, or even wash away, tiny seeds.
Tamp down the soil in cell punnets to eliminate air pockets. The tiny rootlets dislike coming across air bubbles and a cell of roots that holds together makes it easier to transplant germinated seedlings.
Don’t underestimate a seedling’s need for light. Too little and you’ll produce long and lanky stems.
Harden off seedlings before planting them, by gradually introducing them to full sun. While they are still in their cells, add a few hours more each day, until they are ready to go it alone.
Photo - Cora mueller / Shutterstock
Water in the mornings and don’t allow seedlings to dry out.
Alternate seaweed solution and liquid fertiliser such as Powerfeed, Harvest or Thrive to maintain healthy summer annuals and keep the flowers coming.
Upend hydrangea heads in a sink of water to refresh them and get another week out of wilting blooms.
Agapanthus make long-lived vase arrangements. We adore ‘Queen Mum’ and ‘Purple Cloud’.
Think ahead to autumn - check catalogues for Spencer Sweet Pea seeds, ranunculus bulbs and Picotee Iceland poppies.
Agapanthus 'Queen Mum'
Cut-and-come-again bloomers are a great choice for new gardeners. Try zinnias, cosmos, gomphrena, ‘Pampas Plume’ celosia and purple basil.
Few annuals are more productive than cosmos ‘Purity’. The more you pick, the more you get. Each stem is loaded with blossoms that open over the course of a week. Harvest when buds start to crack.
Globe amaranth (Gomphrena haggena) is great value over summer, both in the garden and in the vase. The adorable button-like blooms resemble coloured clover blossoms, look great in bouquets and are good fresh or dried. Plants thrive in the heat.