Here are my favourite garden perennials which also make great cut flowers. It was hard to narrow the choice down to just 10 but these are the ones that I really value in my garden. They have to perform in the garden (look good and have a long season of interest) and make excellent cut flowers. If they are also good plants for bees and other pollinators, then all the better!

Top 10 perennials for cutting

  1. Christmas / Lenten Rose (Helleborus niger / H. orientalis) - Beautiful flowers that are in bloom when there are a scarcity of flowers in the garden. Depending on the varieties grown, hellebores can provide you with flowers from December all the way through to the end of spring. An important early food source for emerging bees.
  2. Lady's Mantle  (Alchemilla mollis) - Great as a foliage plant and as a filler element (fillers are small flowers that bulk out an arrangement). Grows happily in both the sun or shade. I grow it in both situations for a prolonged flowering period (those in the shade will flower a couple of weeks later than those in sun).

3. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) - The yellow umbels of flowers are great as fillers in a vase and I love the height that fennel adds to a garden border. The hoverflies adore it. We leave the expired flower stalks on the plant over winter for sculptural interest.

4. Perennial wallflower (Erysimum 'Bowles' Mauve') - Ours flowers on and off practically all year round (I used the flowers in my Christmas wreath last year!) A very important food source for pollinators as it is so long flowering.

5. Red campion  (Silene dioica) - A pretty wildflower that will grow well in shade so it is possible to have flowers for cutting in shady spots. With deadheading, it flowers all summer long and adds a natural look to a vase of flowers

6. Masterwort (Astrantia) - Another perennial that is happy in shade. It has beautiful architectural flowers that last well in the vase and can be dried.

7. Oregano (Oreganum vulgare) - Great for cooking but it is the lilac clusters of flowers that I value. They are great filler flowers for arrangements and the foliage is a lovely fresh green colour.

8. Oxeye daisies (Luecanthemum vulgare) - Can be a bit rampant as will self-seed everywhere but seedlings are easily pulled out. We have established clumps that flower in early summer for months. Will produce a 2nd flush of flowers later in the year if you cut them back after flowering. Long-lasting in the vase.

9. Giant scabious (Cephalaria gigantea) - You need space in the border for this large perennial but it produces gorgeous, large lemon yellow flowers. They are a mecca for bees and each flower can accommodate up to 4 bees at a time, as I  have been witnessing this summer!

10. Burnet (Sanguisorba) - I love the red bobble headed-flowers of this plant which wave about on top of wiry stems. Long flowering all through the summer and adds interest to a vase of flowers giving it an individual feel.

For more information on creating your own cutting garden from choosing which perennials, annuals, shrubs and bulbs to grow, to planning the layout, sowing seeds, harvesting and arranging cut flowers, please contact Jane about attending a 'Grow your own cut flowers' workshop.

Cut flowers
Garden perennials Oxeye daisies, Alchemilla mollis and Sanguisorba mixed with annual cut flowers
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It's been a very wet June which, on the plus side, has meant that I haven't had to do much watering of my raised beds but at the same time it has provided optimum conditions for the hordes of voracious slugs and snails that are munching their way through the growing tips of my sweet peas and dahlias. However, as you can see from these photos, all is not lost!

There are a bumper number of flowers to cut at this time of year in my cutting garden. Over the last couple of weeks I've been cutting Cornflowers, Ammi, Candytuft, Sweet williams, Alchemilla mollis, Roses, Oxeye daisies, Nigella, Foxgloves, Linaria, Ranunculus, Sanguisorba, Cirsium rivulare, Salvia, Cephalaria gigantea and Triteleia.

My favourite flower this month has to be that of Cephalaria gigantea (giant scabious). The large pale yellow flowers (featured in this arrangement below) are stunning and I've never seen so many bees on a plant before. I counted 14 bees on just one plant! As it's growing in the border, I only cut sparingly from it so there are plenty of flowers left for the bees.

Growing flowers is good for the soul and good for the bees!

I held another 'Grow Your Own Cut Flowers' workshop this month, this time for 2 students - Mark, a garden designer who would like to incorporate cutting gardens into some of his client's gardens, and Jules, a keen gardener, starting to maintain and create gardens for others. I think we just about managed to get over Jules' fear of cutting flowers from the garden borders by  the end of the session and in Jules' own words:

"I started the working week with renewed enthusiasm and an urge to cut flowers! ... Thank you again for the delicious food, excellent course notes, jam jar posy and bonus cosmos seeds (already planted!)."

Growing Flowers workshop
Jules' jam jar posy

 

 

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I love May as it is the month that a lot of garden perennials such as Aquilegias and Oxeye daisies begin to bloom and there is suddenly a lot more material to cut. However, June is the month when the hardy annual flower seedlings - Cornflowers, Sweet peas and Ammi, which were sown back in March and have been cosseted since then, finally all start to flower. These annuals really do flower their socks off for months if you keep picking the flowers or dead-heading any that you leave on for the bees and other pollinating insects.

May cut flowers
May perennials

I vary the annuals that I grow each year, as I like to try new varieties, and there will always be some new amazing flower that I will see when browsing the seed catalogues  which I simply must have! This year I'm growing Phacelia campanularia (with bright blue flowers), Cornflowers 'Polka Dot' (a mix of blues, whites and pinks) and 'Black Ball' (dark, wine red),  Godetia 'Crown Double Mix' (pink tissue-like flowers), Ammi majus 'African Queen' (the classic white umbellifer which makes excellent filler material), Candytuft 'White Pinnacle' (with sweet scented, white flowers), Amberboa muricata (a pale pink, shaggy thistle type flower) and Malope trifida 'Vulcan' (a trailing plant with magenta flowers with a green eye).

 

All these annual flowers will be featuring in arrangements this month which I will post on my Facebook page in order to demonstrate the wide variety of cut flowers that anyone could grow in their own back garden, in combination with garden perennials, shrubs, bulbs and herbs. Herbs like Mint, Lemon balm and Oregano all provide useful foliage or filler flowers this month to mix in with your annuals.

Flowers end June
Sweet peas, Amberboa, Lupins and Cornflowers with Lemon balm foliage in June

 

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