• Fuchsia Blooms

My Top 10 favourites

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

I have been asked quite a few times now what my top favourite plants have been this year. There are just so many that I have had to think really hard about why they are my favourites and narrow them down a bit. There are really obvious big blooms like Roses and Ranunculus but they don't complete a design.... it's all of the other elements. Brides expect great peonies in their bouquet but don't expect to find sternkugel or acorns! These special elenments help to lift and enhance a bouquet and take it from beautiful to stunning & interesting.

Favourites are different for all growers and you will find that some have done really well with some plants which others have not managed to get a single flower from all year!

I will admit that I struggle to get both Astrantia and Alchemilla Mollis to germinate from seed. (I won’t let them beat me though!!! I will succeed one day!) my lysmacia struggled at first as did my Amaranthus but by the end of the season both were looking fab.

Sometimes it’s all about timing, or conditions. I regularly sow the same seeds in more than one tray and find that one tray will germinate fine and the other hardly at all! Maybe one has  had a little more sunshine or a little more water or less compost sprinkled on top? Who knows!   

So below are my favourites, not because they are the most popular but because of the effort involved to grow them, the cost of doing so and their usefulness.

1. Clary Sage.

The most amazing herb. I bought my seed a couple of years ago from Jekkas herbs. There were so many in the packet and they make such large multi stemmed plants that you don’t need too many of them. The best thing about this plant is the scent. It’s wonderful, unique and just a couple of stems will fill a room with gorgeousness! I love this in my garden too as the aroma is released when you brush past it! To use it as a cut flower the young stems look amazing but are not as heavily scented as the older stems and they can be much shorter. However with age the flowers do turn slightly brown at the edges so you need to be careful how much you use and hide it away in arrangement if needed. I just wont be without it.

Clary Sage is Biennial and should be sowed in the summer. It is very slow growing in the first year and usually only produces a few small leaves. These over winter very well and should be planted out to their final spacing in either autumn or early sping after which they will produce a large mult stemmed plant which is cut and come again. Better still it needs no staking!

2. Scabious

I have been amazed by the sheer number of stems I have been able to use at all growth stages. I only grew black knight this year but wow it paid for its self one hundred times over! The juvenile flowers look like teeny tiny berries - they look amazing. These then open into full flowers - even more amazing. If that’s not enough the flowers drop off leaving behind a bulbous bright green seed pod with delicate hairs attached - can we get more amazing?........ Yes......these seed pods then turn brown - great for use in autumn! So just one, yes one !!! Sowing can give you cut stems for around 5 months with a lot of versatility. The downside is teh amount of staking needed, otherwise they will flop all over the place.

Seeds can be sowed in late summer or early autumn for an early show or in springtime for same year flowering.

3. Dahlia foliage

For those who know me well they know that the colour red is like the colour of evil. No matter what I do I just can not bring myself to like it, not even a tiny bit. In addition the number of requests I get from florists requesting no red flowers in their buckets makes me feel quite normal. So I really did have to force myself to grow Dahlia Bishops Children this year. When the first few flowers emerged I couldn’t even bear to look at them in the field and they were promptly snipped off every evening for the first few weeks while I told myself I was right and I should have listened to myself. But the purple foliage looked soo lovely sitting next to some of my purple Clary Sage so I began to use a few snippings in my purple arrangements. Before I knew it I was using it everywhere! I will continue to grow it just for the abundant foliage!!

Dahlias can be sowed from seed in springtime or planted as tubers, check out my Dahlia blog for how to grow and propagate. Harvest blooms regularly - every 3 days or so

4.  Orlaya Grandiflora

At first I was not sure about this one. I grew lots and lots of Ammi which germinated abundantly, Orlaya seemed to be a bit too fussy! I have now changed my mind completely. I had so many comments from customers (retail ones) about that cow parsley! I’m sure they all thought I had just dug it up from my nearest roundabout or roadside verge. I can defend it no longer and I will instead be growing more of it’s more sophisticated cousin - Orlaya! Delicate inner flowers surrounded by a beautiful ring of larger ones. They are a keeper and I managed to collect lots of seeds too!! Plants required light staking.

Seeds can be sowed in late summer or early autumn for an early show or in springtime for same year flowering.

5. Lilac

Although notorious for having a short vase life and a very short flowering season the scent is so overwhelming it's worth having at least a few of these. My subscription customers just love them and they are a must for farmers markets as they really draw in the crowds.

I have been taking cuttings but they are not the easiest to root and take a few years to flower. If you only want a few bushes then it's just easier to buy them in from a gardencentre.

To get the best vase life ensure that you pick them in the cool of the day, place in buckets of cool water filled 2/3 full. Pick when only around half of the blooms are open - any more than this and vase life will be reduced by a few days. It also helps to remove all of the leaves as they are so difficult to hydrate. Once picked leave in a cool spot for a few hours to have a good long drink - ideally in a fridge. I have also seen some florist cut short vertical slits along the stems in a few places to help the uptake of water. I have not tried this myself yet but will be doing some trials on it next season. Lastly, cut long stems to encourage more branching and flowers the following year.

6. Philadelphus

This blooms for me at the same time as my first flush of roses and is such a great companion for them when annuals are only just starting to bloom this is a really reliable source of some extra pretty blooms. It so fast and easy to grow, and is also very undemanding as a cut flower! It's citrus scent floats easily on the breeze and gives it the comon name of mock orange.

It really thrived in this years long hot summer and I am planning to plant a few more for the coming seasons. Not too expensive to buy a couple of plants from the garden centre if that's all you need. I have a few cuttings on the go which have taken a few months to root.