Flowers for Mum: Some lessons learned
I'm still getting to grips with dahlias as a cut flower and it's important I do as they're the one flower still pumping out masses of blooms this late in the season. I've found picking time is crucial to success - too early and the flowers don't open; too late and they simply fall apart. They're not the longest lasting bloom either, but they form an important connection with mum as dad used to help organise the annual dahlia show where he worked.
Reaction has proved key to success for my Flowers for Mum project this year. As well as the dahlias, bright blooms get a thumbs up, as does anything with a scent or strokeable leaves. Sadly mum's special Portmeirion vase has gone AWOL for the time being; she loves pointing out the bee and butterfly in the design, so I hope it returns to her room soon.
My kitchen windowsill is now a colourful laboratory where I test which flowers last well in the vase. Whilst I have plenty of cut flower books to guide me, it's still good to see which ones perform well before I use them in the more demanding conditions at the home. Room temperatures are far higher there, so - dahlias apart - only the longest lasting blooms will do.
My star turns for the year include:
- Daffodils - not home grown, but a plentiful supply of British grown flowers are available from January until early April. They're a welcome start to the year.
- Alliums - a surprise hit and not a long lasting flower, but their seed heads go on and on and on. It meant mum still had something of interest in her room when we went on holiday.
- Stachys byzantina - added as a bulking agent to a rather meagre bunch of flowers for my Wild and Woolly edition and mum loved the strokeability of the leaves.
- Alstroemeria - I knew these would be a good doer as blooms last up to three weeks at home.
- Perennial cornflowers - long lasting and foraged from my back lawn where they've self seeded themselves.
- Lavender - mum loves the scent, so I've also dried the flowers along with some lemon balm to make some sweet smelling sachets for her room.
- Hyacinths - these were a Christmas present from the home last year and her positive reaction to their scent inspired me to start my Flowers for Mum project
I've also learned it's wise to strip the leaves and trim the stems to size at home beforehand and I can check for stray insects at the same time. Roses are a no-no as they're a bit too fiddly to trim without pricking myself, plus their petals drop off too readily. A spray gun container forms my improvised vase for the journey to mum; its narrow neck prevents any spillage and the flowers are kept beautifully fresh.
When the dahlias stop flowering (probably later this month), I'll forage for suitable plant material to add to the echinacea and scabious flower heads I have drying upstairs. There are some teasels growing nearby and there's always silvery Euonymus to add from the front garden. I really must grow some Statice next year to add a floral note to my winter posies. Then there are paperwhite daffodils and hyacinth bulbs to succession plant ready to take us up to Christmas.
Have you grown cut flowers this year? What's worked well for you?