Make bouquets for your home from your garden

PUBLISHED: 08:37 22 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:52 20 February 2013

Make bouquets for your home from your garden

Make bouquets for your home from your garden

With a little imagination, your garden can provide you with the cut flowers, herbs and stems to make gorgeous bouquets for your home. If you prefer to buy flowers, however, make them local. Words and photos by Louise Danks

Home Grown Bouquets

With a little imagination, your garden can provide you with the cut flowers, herbs and stems to make gorgeous bouquets for your home. If you prefer to buy flowers, however, make them local. Words and photos by Louise Danks

There can be few things more satisfying than being able to stroll around your garden and pick an armful of flowers without making a dent in your borders. You neednt have acres to pick from or a dedicated cutting garden.

Historically, many large estates had their own cutting garden, usually as part of the fruit and vegetable production area. It would provide cut flowers for the house for as long a period as possible, from the earliest violets and anemones through to late-season chrysanths. It might be that a pot of sweet peas by the back door is all youve space for but theyll keep you in blooms all summer long; youll even be complaining that you cant keep up with the cutting of these prolific little flowers. Sow sweet peas now for hardy little plants that arrive in the spring. Save toilet roll tubes, stand up in a seed tray, fill with compost and keep them away from the snails.

Two main reasons for bringing the garden indoors are because a bunch of flowers looks nice and smells good. With that in mind, dont dismiss herbs, theyll provide valuable greenery and also many of them have attractive flowers. The herb that springs to mind is lavender, with its thick bunches of long-stemmed purple flowers and delicious scent. Just as good fresh or dried, tied with a ribbon and hung upside down. Fennel is lovely too, with its loose umbels of golden flowers coupled with its delicate feathery foliage in fresh green or bronze, while marjoram has tiny clusters of white-pink flowers, and even the dense evergreen spikes of rosemary foliage adds dimension to floral displays.

Get organised now

You can of course tweak your borders to include more flowers for cutting, but youll be surprised what will be growing already that can provide you with valuable greenery. Although theres nothing wrong with a bit of pittosporum or eucalyptus, a common garden perennial Alchemilla mollis with its clusters of tiny acid-green flowers can be both contemporary and cottage garden traditional when cut and used in a hand-tied garden posy. Best of all, youll not miss it from the garden as ladys mantle self-seeds and flowers prolifically and is not usually grown for its flowers.

Trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals can all add interest to your bouquet and its the annual plants that will be the cheapest to add to your garden and provide the quickest rewards. Dont be afraid to try different combinations you might surprise yourself with a very professional, expensive-looking posy. Dahlias are back in vogue and picking one or two of these striking blooms will be a colourful addition to a home-grown bouquet.

Dried flowers

We all have memories of bunches of dried flowers sitting year after year gathering dust in a relatives fireplace but it neednt be like this! After all, part of the charm of these neglected beauties is that they last a long time. Contrasting raffia or ribbon will enhance and update. An unusual or original container to display them in or even just a strong colour combination will give these flowers a youthful appeal.

Have a go at growing your own. Helichrysum Summer Skies is a great one to try. Scatter a packet of seeds early in the spring onto a patch of raked soil. These long-lasting blooms will need support as they get quite tall and are liable to flop over and then grow with kinked stems. Old pea canes or bits of hazel will do the trick. Snaking them through an existing border looks good, but not too near the front because of their height.

The cut flower industry in Cornwall

Cornwall has a legacy of growing cut flowers for export, all down to the climate and the early start to the season that it brings with it. The earliest scented daffodils and bluest agapanthus are sent worldwide. Now it seems there is no end to the range of blooms grown in the county.

Flowers by Clowance in Praze near Camborne has had three generations (soon to be four) of the same family involved in running this successful business. It is now James Cock who has taken up the reins at Clowance Nurseries. With 65 years of experience, the family have an impressive two-and-a-half acres of growing space under glass, half an acre under plastic and 30 acres of arable land, from which they run a business specialising in growing cut flowers, wholesale flower supply and floristry. The nursery is also open to the public.

It is a real family affair, with James mum, Fae, and sister, Louise, making bouquets for wedding flowers around 100 a year. Along with other events, the floristry side of the business is very busy.

James is obviously passionate about Cornish cut flowers and proud of the range that can be produced here in the county. Its more than just daffodils there are a huge number of different species on the market every week of the year. Flowers such as anemones, scented daffs and alstroemeria kick the year off in January, closely followed by tulips, lilies, freesia and violets taking us through to April, he says.

The summer is dominated by agapanthus, gladioli, sweet william, ageratum, delphinium, peony, phlox, sunflowers and pinks. When the autumn arrives with its dahlias, chrysanths and asters we are buoyed up by the extension of summer. Christmas will be here before we know it and along with it are holly wreaths, mistletoe and chrysanths, adds James.

To James it makes no sense to import flowers from Europe, in particular Holland. When buying Dutch flowers from a shop on, lets say, a Monday, theyll have been at the auction on the previous Wednesday. British cut flowers and particularly Cornish cut flowers will be fresher by days and have fewer buying miles.

At Clowance, James and his family grow perennials and annuals for cutting. One tunnel contains triffid-like dahlias flowering at head height and above, with four 150-foot rows from which to pick. These tend to look after themselves, he adds.

A crop with which James is very pleased this year is his annual tunnel full of mixed cornflowers, antirrhinum, statice, ageratum and sunflower. Sown from seed at the start of the year, they are being harvested now. What James doesnt grow on site, hell source from elsewhere in Cornwall. Walking through the nursery, among his own colourful charges, he lists an array of flower producers in the area; it is a long list, so there are plenty of Cornish flowers available.

James Always buy from a florist and not a supermarket and always ask for Cornish or British cut flowers. Youll be supporting local businesses and cutting down on buying miles.

For further information: Clowance Nurseries, Praze, Camborne, TR14 0NW. 01209 831317,

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