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The Diary of a Cottage Gardener - July

And then it was July! How has that happened? June disappeared in a flash as wedding season got into full swing. Last month saw me pick and pack over 1,500 flowers - not to mention foliage and heading to Somerset to create the flowers for a country wedding.

A year of planning what to grow came to fruition! This wedding combined with supplying flowers for some DIY weddings saw the cutting garden look like it had been scalped! That is where succession sowing is vital.

The choice of flowers really starts to increase from June onwards and allows for some beautiful combinations of flowers and foliage and all the methods employed in creating the bouquets, arrangements and installations were sustainable. Congratulations to C & G. Thank you for choosing sustainably grown, British flowers.

Garden visit:

The ladies (and a few gents) from the Werrington Ladies Circle paid a visit to the garden. It was so good to meet them all and we did a tour of the garden sharing experiences of growing flowers and as always, it was amazing to find out how much support there is for the British grown flower movement. The ladies got to enjoy a delicious tea baked by Robert at Lifton Hall Hotel and a donation was made to the Devon Wildlife Trust. A good result all round and on the hottest day of the year so far.

What I am busy with this month

Sowing and potting on biennials: I continue to sow and pot on biennials for next year’s weddings. I have now sown three succession crops of Sweet William and Sweet Rocket and the first of the Foxgloves and Honesty. These are all plants that go outside and will either be planted out in October or will over winter in pots until the new year. It is a great way to get early spring flowers and if you have a polytunnel, you could be cutting flowers from late March as I did this year.

Now is a good time to start to cut back Foxgloves and Poppies as the leaves can get floppy and matted. Be sure to save any seeds as you go-more plants for free! Cut back Delphiniums and Geums to get a potential second flush of flowers. Deadheading is a laborious task, but it does help to keep your plants flowering.

Drying flowers and seedheads: You might not have tried drying flowers and seedheads. I dry large quantities and the house and sheds get filled with them. I have a dried flower wedding in October, so I have started the drying process already. Make sure you cut them on a dry day and hang in small bunches in a dark and dry place. (‘Dry seems to be the key word!). Doing this, will help to keep the colour and stop them from going mouldy. Mine do not hang around long enough to need to be stored but you can put them in boxes with tissue paper for storage. They will last for at least a year and the bonus is -you do not need to water them.

Stressing about wildflowers for ‘An enchanted meadow’ wedding this month: Recent torrential downpours of rain have had me checking out the wildflowers I am growing from the seed I gathered last year. Some of the flowers have come a week earlier than I would have liked and as a vast quantity have been sown it has been near impossible to stake them against the rain. However, they appear to have not been too beaten-could be something to do with the fact that they are wildflowers and made of strong stuff and there are plenty more to come!

The area has been full of bees and bugs and hums with their buzzing. I cannot recommend having a wildflower area enough. It is a visual feast, benefits wildlife and if you gather the seed, you can keep regenerating it. What is not to love?

Swooning over Dahlia’s: I could not sign off without mentioning Dahlia’s. This is the first one to appear. Mine are grown in raised beds and I use recycled sheep fencing to support them as they grow. If you are growing them for the first time, make sure you pinch them out to get a longer stem length and give them a good feed once a week. I make my own feed using Comfrey leaves. It smells dreadful but the plants love it.

I hope you have a lovely July in your gardens, and it stops raining-at least for a few days!

Hilary x


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