Growing Awareness - In the Flower Patch
Welcome to the latest garden news-post with our Apprentice Gardener Amy Cairns
Now we can reap what's been sown
July in the garden is really when we can reap the fruits of our labour - everything is abundant, in flower or in fruit.
We have been harvesting currants, and berries from bushes laden and drooping with fruit, picking a seemingly endless supply of peas and beans, and watching for the first tomatoes to ripen in the glasshouse.
But it's not all about the fruits and vegetables: we’ve also been cultivating a new annual cut flower patch in the walled garden which is now in bloom.
We had been inspired by a visit to Riverford Field Kitchen one dark February evening where Head Gardener Penny Hemming grows a range of cut flowers for drying and displaying on the walls of the restaurant. Following Penny’s suggestions we put in an order for a range of flower seeds from Sarah Raven and waited eagerly for the seed packets to arrive.
In the meantime we selected an area of the walled garden to transform into a swathe of summer flowers and worked together with a group of volunteer horticulture students from South Devon College on preparing the new bed. We cleared the area of some box hedging, overgrown perennials and comfrey root, added fresh compost and wooden bed-edging to prevent grass and weeds invading the bed from the paths.
Our seed order arrived and we sowed trays of our favourite varieties:
- Snapdragons - Antirrhinum majus ‘Appleblossom’, & Antirrhinum ‘Bizarre Hybrids’
- Cosmos - ‘Candy Stripe’, ‘Dazzler’, ‘Psyche White’
- Salvia - Salvia viridis in both ‘Pink’ & ‘Blue’
- Ammi majus & Ammi visnaga ‘White’
- Cornflowers (pictured right) – mixed blue and purple
- Strawflowers - Helichrysum bracteatum ‘Salmon Rose’
The flowers were planted out in May and by July the first flowers were starting to bloom. By continually cutting the flowers for vases in the house and posies in the bell tents at the woodland campsite, the patch will continue to give fresh displays of flowers through the summer.
We will also be harvesting some of the flowers for drying to give a little colour to the vases in Sharpham House during the winter months. To harvest for drying we will cut the flowers before they are fully blooming as they will continue to open after being cut. The flowers then need to be hung upside down in bunches in a dry, dark, cool place so that sunlight doesn’t fade the colours.
Find out more about Sharpham's gardens here