Mind The Gap!

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.

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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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