August in the cutting garden

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August this year has just disappeared in a flash, just like the school holidays. The children are now back at nursery and school giving me some precious time to get cracking in the garden. I can start to tackle the list of jobs for this time of year and all the ones that got a bit neglected over the holidays!

Going back to the start of the month I was pleased to come back from a holiday in Arran to find there was not too much damage in the cutting garden. We had been away when it was a particularly wet week. This had the advantage that friends and family did not need to water as much while I was away, but did mean a lot of the flowers had turned distinctly mushy! Annual flowers never cease to amaze me as a good deheading round the garden and they all sprang back to life with new blooms. They really live up to their name as cut and come again flowers.

Along with maintaining the cutting garden, weeding, deheading flowers and watering it is this time of year I start to look forward to next season and planting for that. My bulb order has finally gone in ready for the autumn. I had to try and curb my enthusiasm for trying far too many different varieties. It is very easy to get carried away! I do have some lovely new varieties of tulip and daffodil I will be trying as well as some more unusual bulbs.

I have also sown the first of my hardy annual seeds. Some of these I have direct sown. If it is not too hard a winter hopefully some will survive to produce stronger earlier plants in the spring. As a contingency I have also started sewing some undercover in the unheated conservatory. This may seem very early to plant hardy annual seeds but I find that in Scotland with the colder weather if you do not start them off early enough they will not have enough time to put down roots and grow before winter sets in. I have been sewing some of my old favourites like cornflowers and ammi majus but I also love to try new things so I have planted some antirrhinum majus or snapdragon, lagurus or hares-tail, godetia and sweet Annie for foliage.

Earlier this month I planted out the biennial seedlings I had been growing in the conservatory. Planting them out then gave them a good chance to get growing before the cooler weather sets in.

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My sunflowers have started to bloom despite the cold summer and the attack on its leaves by a mystery offender!

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It has been my first year growing dahlias and this has been a bit of a learning curve. Both the flowers and the leaves have been nibbled and it took me a while to catch what was doing it. I couldn’t see any slugs on my nightly torch patrols and couldn’t catch any earwigs in my traps. Eventually it was the beer traps that revealed the culprit and it was definitely slugs, which had been hiding from me! The dahlias are beautiful flowers but have a limited vase life. However I have found that the karma varieties last really well compared to the bishop ones.

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This month I was excited to launch my real petal confetti for events and weddings. The box of confetti is the perfect size to fit in your bag if you go to a wedding and the confetti looks equally lovely as a table decoration. To make it I have been drying the lavender, rose and cornflower petals from the garden. This hive of industry has now relegated towels to the spare room bed and the petals get the airing cupboard! It is the perfect place to dry them.

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I have found that as my business grows I am needing to get out and about more in the car to deliver flowers to customers. My husband kindly put together a frame for the boot to hold my buckets without them moving all over the place. This means I can deliver flowers really fresh as they can stay in water right up to your door.

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The roses in the garden have been sensational for their first year. I am looking forward to using them in the future for cutting as the bushes become more established. Here are a couple of favourites from the garden and they all smell gorgeous!

Margaret Merril                                               Isn’t she lovely

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August is a great month for colour in the garden and here are a few pictures to show you what is flowering in the cutting patch this month:

Ammi Visnaga is just starting to come into bloom and the ammi majus is still putting on a good show.

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The bronze fennel is looking good.

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The salvia has been a brilliant cut flower this year and is definitely on the list for next season.

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The rudbeckia is just starting to flower. This is where you start to see the autumn colours start to come in, full of reds, yellows and oranges.

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The cosmos is just starting to pick up and bloom more consistently now. It should provide a lot of flowers until the first frosts.

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The cornflowers are still blooming. Along with the phacelia these flowers have been blooming from the same plants all summer!

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The sweet peas are really producing a mass of flowers just now. They may only last a few days in the vase but are well worth a continual supply in your home just for the scent as you walk in to the room. Cutting sweet peas has led to a few disasters this month! One of my more memorable ones was having just finished bunching up 2 jugs of sweet peas to go on the stall I made to walk out the garage. Somehow I managed to trip over a bunch of garden tools and the sweet peas and I went flying. I landed in a big muddy puddle and the sweet peas went sailing through the air to land in the dirt too. After a few frustrated tears and a few bruises we managed to start again and cut some more. The tools now have a new home in a shed where they were supposed to be in the first place! Looking back it now seems funny but it didn’t feel like that at the time!

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With the end of the summer holidays and people returning home the flower stall has been busier and I have enjoyed meeting new customers and making bouquets for different occasions. One of the things I love about growing flowers for people is there is always a different story behind someone buying them. Some people buy flowers to brighten up their day and their homes. Others buy them to cheer someone up when they are feeling sad or unwell. Or to make someone feel happy and help them celebrate an important occasion, say thank you, I love you or even sorry. Homegrown flowers I think are just that bit extra special as they have been grown with love and care and really do help put a smile on someone’s face.

Here are some of my favourite flowers from August to leave you with..

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