It is a long held ambition of mine to create a little cottage garden with flowers that can be gathered for indoors. I'm limited by the tiny veg patch which is for food growing but I've introduced a few flowers over recent years, either edible or to attract beneficial insects. I get so much pleasure from these few flowers that I want more - but which are the best to choose from the vast selection of seeds out there? With perfect timing for the seed sowing season, Louise Curley (aka Wellywoman) has provided the answers in her newly published book 'The Cut Flower Patch'.
Louise, a trained horticulturist, has spent the past two years putting together her first book about growing flowers on her allotment and in her garden in Monmouthshire, UK. (Read Louise's posts about writing the book hereand here.) Louise writes a jolly good blog so I was confident that her book would be equally good. Having now read it, and actually used her advice, I'm pleased to say I was right.
First off, the book is beautiful to look at. The front cover is very striking; the rest is gob-smackingly gorgeous. Photos are by the very talented Jason Ingram and the layout is also very pleasing. Everything has a very fresh, natural feel so you want to keep rifling through the pages.
The text is accurate and well researched with excellent practical advice - just what you'd expect from an experienced gardener - and with a warm, helpful tone. We've all been overwhelmed by the vast range of seeds available today; in the past, I've chosen seeds on looks only to find that they're tricky to grow. Louise writes of just 23 annuals plus bulbs, corms, tubers and filler foliage, expanding within each category to name the varieties that she's found perform best, both in ease of growing and vase life. Simple and achievable.
After reading the book, I feel that anyone, whether beginner or more experienced grower, could successfully grow a few flowers for cutting, even with only the tiniest patch of land. All the information is here with helpful hints sprinkled throughout. Chapters such as 'What makes a great cut flower?', setting up and 'Caring for your patch', 'Growing from seed' and 'Why choose bulbs?' demystify the process and lead up to the grand finale, 'Showing Off', with page after page of deliciously beautiful flower arrangements. The penultimate section, 'Rich Pickings', looks creatively beyond the patch to seedheads, grasses, shrubs and hedgerows to extend interest throughout the year.
But this makes it sound like a gardener's manual and there is so much more here. I found the personal writing style made it both hugely readable and informative. I particularly like the little bits of history and background to the plants and the 'Why grow it?' reason given for plant choices. As far as I could tell, no small detail of successful growing has been overlooked; read diligently, this book is as complete a workshop in growing flowers from scratch as you could hope to find. No wonder the RHS has added it to its bookshop shelves.
Giveaway!The publishers have offered an additional copy of the book as a giveaway so that one lucky urbanvegpatch reader can have their own copy. (UK entries only, sorry.) To enter, just leave a comment and tell me your favourite flower to be in with a chance. The closing date is midnight on 21st March.
Please ensure your comment links back to a means of contacting you!
My thanks go to Frances Lincoln for supplying me with a copy of the book for review.
PS. As recommended in the book, if you're starting a cut flower patch from scratch, check out the website of Cornwall based Higgledy Garden for a seed collection of the best flowers for cutting … and support our British flower growers at the same time!