Saturday, 17 September 2011

The Final Blooms

The garden is tired, the plot has passed its prime and the chickens are slowing down.  Autumn has taken hold.

Yesterday, I cut what could be the last of the Dahlias.  They have been brilliant throughout the year and have inspired me to grow more next year.  I have never been all that enthusiastic about Dahlias, apart from ‘Bishop of Llandaff’, but I have developed a new appreciation of them as they’ve offered so many flowers throughout the season – perfect for the home.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Dahlia fanatic, but in terms of value for money they have really held their own and they work so well in cut flower displays with other plants and flowers.  I think there may be one or two more to cut yet but with the high winds and pelting rains ever present, the likelihood of them being worthy of cutting is low. Then again, urban legend always talks about an “Indian Summer” – I’ll believe it when I see it.

If you’ve been following the blog you will have seen that I experimented with creating a cutting garden on a budget.  I bought most of the cutting garden contents from the pound shop (I’m assuming that they have similar $1 stores in America?), not including the huge sack of Daffodils that were found in a bargain bin for £2.00 and the sweet peas that came from the fabulous Seed Parade.  The results have been much better than I ever expected.  Of course there were losses.  The Poppies didn’t grow, but I can propagate them from somewhere I’m sure, and the Peonies were pitiful, but I wasn’t expecting much from them this year.  I’m sure the Peonies will be much stronger next year when they’ve settled in.  In terms of successes, the stars of the show had to be the Dahlias, Sweet peas and Gladioli.  With the acquisition of more allotment space I think I’ll be extending the cutting garden and I already have plans to add more spring flowers, courtesy of the pound shop.  I’ll also be looking to grow more annuals, such as Larkspur, recommended by the lovely Georgie of Common Farm Flowers, Ammi majus, Orlaya grandiflora, more Calendula, Stattice and Bupleurum rotundifolium ‘Griffithii’.  Watch this space.

The Autumn will also see me revamping my back garden.  I often like to give things a re-jig and as most plants in the garden are herbaceous it gives me scope to propagate and move things around.   It’s very easy to do this in a tiny garden like mine and I guess it’s something that keeps me active in such a small space.  When I finally get a decent sized garden (fingers crossed for next year) the planting will probably be less likely to change as often, although it’s likely I will continue in a similar ilk.  Like the cutting garden I’m not looking to spend much money, if any, on the garden as most of the raw materials are already there.  I have my trees and a few structural shrubs, which will stay in place, but everything else is a contender for moving.  I’m still taking inspiration from Vivienne Westwood’s 2009 Manifesto, which I wrote about here, and as such the garden is something that will incorporate these principles but I’m thinking about ways to use plants differently.  Currently the garden has a cottage feel, in that plants are intermingled in borders in a semi-traditional style but I’m leaning towards planting in bold and large drifts and using the already limited planting scheme to maintain continuity.  There is the possibility that this will change of course.  But wasn’t Autumn created to give gardeners some time to plan for the year ahead?

On the chicken front this has been the year of the broody hen.  Right now Bella the Bluebelle is fiercely trying to hatch out anything she can, having taken over from Sophia La Hen, the twice broody Ancona.  Egg production has slowed but is relatively steady and moult has also set in for some.  Diana the Copper Marans hen, currently has a bare chest, which is quite amusing and Edna, my lone Araucana who was cast out from the flock, is nearly through her first moult.  Edna wont be alone for much longer either as there are plans to introduce a companion for her in the shape of a nice docile Orpington bred by a friend.  Fingers crossed and all being well the introduction should go swimmingly, although you never know with chickens!


  1. Hi Ryan - Just wanted to say if you're thinking of growing more calendula next year I really recommend Calendula "Flashback" offered by The Real Seed Catalogue. Beautiful flowers on sturdy plants.

  2. I like Dahlias too, much prefer the strident colours, but those look really pretty against the dark foliage of the plant.

    My hens are still laying well, in fact Esther is coming back into lay and 5 girls give me 4 eggs a day! I am hoping to introduce a couple more too.

    Agree with you though, def feels like autumn is here

  3. Lovely bouquet...I've never been a fan of Dahlias in the garden...for some reason, they seem a bit too "artificial", which makes no sense, but there you have it! Then again, in a cutting garden, why you said, in that case, all that matters is bang for your buck :-)

  4. Thanks for the comments.

    Lisa, that looks like a great recommendation. I think I might give that one a try!

    Zoë, the mix I grew had quite a few yellows and cerise colours in them and I'm hoping to grow a few more colours next year. The girls are down to 3 or 4 a day at the mo. Long gone are the days where I'd get a full 6 :(

    Scott, I know what you mean. Many of the larger, more shocking types would jar with my garden but in the cutting garden they're invaluable and look great in floral arrangements. I never thought I'd be a big advocate if I'm truly honest.

  5. Autumn is certainly here already. I love the bright colours in your photo.It's great to bring the outside in at this time of year.

  6. I grew some larkspur this year and they were excellent - Consolida regalis 'Blue Cloud'


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