June flowers
June flowers

June finds the cutting garden positively bursting with flowers. The first hardy annuals have just started blooming in the form of Cornflowers, Snapdragons and Calendula. Even though they are just getting going, we certainly haven't been short of flowers due to growing biennials like Foxgloves and Sweet Williams. Add to these, the self-sown Love-in-a-mist (Nigella) which crop up all over the place and it is easy to fill a vase with early summer flowers. I re-locate any errant Nigella seedlings to more suitable gaps in the cutting beds when they start to appear in early spring.

Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) has been planted as an edging plant, along with Lavender and Thrift, and, if anything, it is doing a little too well as the plants have bulked up considerably. It is so valuable for its frothy yellow flowers which create such a  good backdrop for other, showier flowers.

Daisies with love in a mist
Daisies with love in a mist

Other favourite flowers include Oxeye daisies which are out in abundance on roadside verges at this time of year. We have a clump of them and, although they do self-seed quite prolifically, they are easy to weed out if you get too many. Feverfew is another daisy flower that will self-sow if you introduce it into the garden. Again, it's easy to remove or relocate if it pops up in the wrong place. The flowers of both plants bring a natural wildflower look to vases and it you cut them back after flowering, you'll be rewarded with a 2nd flush of flowers later in the year.

Our shrub roses have really come into their own, producing gorgeously full and fragrant flowers in just their 2nd summer since planting. We grow the dark red 'Munstead Wood', pink 'Gertrude Jekyll' and the deliciously fragrant pink 'Comte de Chambord'. All are repeat-flowering so we'll be able to pick the flowers all through the summer.

Cutting garden in June
The cutting garden in June
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So, the tulips are over for this year. Due to the very cold winter, a late spring and then some sudden unexpected heat, they were all over very quickly this year. Early middle or late varieties, they all seemed to come at once.

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Once the tulips have disappeared, it can be a while before your annual flowers are in bloom so you can be left feeling like there's a bit of a gap in your cutting schedule. It will help if you have some early flowering perennials to cut from - Aquilegia and Astrantia both flower in May and make lovely cut flowers. I have Aquilegias popping up all over the place so I can cut quite a few stems without leaving the garden borders bare.

Aquilegia
Beautiful Aquilegias. Up close, you can admire the different colour combinations and flower types.

Another way to fill the gap between the spring flowering bulbs and the start of your annuals is to grow biennials. These can be in flower as early as April if you grow Honesty (Lunaria) or Icelandic poppies and many flower in May including Wallflowers, Sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis), Sweet Williams and Foxgloves.

This year, I've grown some dark, wine-red wallflowers which have a lovely scent and look great grown around my shrub roses. One cutting bed has been set aside for biennials and it is about to come into flower with sweet williams, foxgloves in a gorgeous salmon colour and the Icelandic poppies have been flowering since April in shades of yellow, orange and peach.

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This will provide plenty of flowers until my autumn sown larkspur, snapdragons and ahem my single cornflower (all the rest were eaten by slugs even though they were on a shelf in the potting shed all winter).

The spring-sown  annuals - more cornflowers, calendula, Ammi majus and Ammi visnaga have been hardened off over the last few week and have now been planted out.

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Once the biennials have done their thing, I will use that bed for a batch of annuals that were sown in May (I sow hardy annuals in March, half-hardy ones in April and a second batch of quick-growing hardy annuals in May so that flowering times are spaced out and the cutting season is prolonged for as long as possible.

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