The Cottage Smallholder

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Cut flower seeds to sow yourself in June or July for harvesting next year

Sweet William flowers

Sweet William flower heads

Izzy Bee stopped by the blog today and asked if I could give information on the flowers in my monthly bouquets as she is interested in growing her own flowers for cutting. I will update my June flowers from the garden post over the next few days.

Growing your own flowers at home is a very eco friendly thing to do – no air miles, no chemicals to keep the flowers blooming for longer. Home grown flowers have a softness and charm that a florist can rarely replicate. Growing your own flowers also saves loads of money, compare the price of a supermarket bunch of flowers and a pack of good quality seeds. There’s no contest.

I realised this afternoon that there are two flowers that are very popular, last well in water and can be sown now even though they’re traditionally sown in June. They will both flower next year.

The first are Sweet Williams. A terrific cut flower with a very long vase life. With Sweet Williams, the more that you cut the more you get. So if you are selling flowers at your gate, filling your house with flowers or giving bunches to grateful friends a pack of Sweet Williams seeds is tremendous value.

Our Sweet Williams started to flower about six weeks ago in East Anglia and will go on flowering at least until September. As you cut the flowers more will develop from lower down on the stems – so dead head them, pick them for the house or give them away to extend the life of your plants. They have a perfume too – vanilla and gentle clovelike scent.

The other flower to sow now is the wallflower.  Wallflower Persian garden is my favourite variety as the range of colours is so broad that the garish colours are quietened and enhanced by the more sober shades. Last year our wallflowers started flowing in November and December as the weather was so mild. I was a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be many flowers in the spring. More buds developed in February and March and we were treated to the glorious heady scent of these cottage garden favourites throughout March, April and May. Interplant with tulips and narcissus as wallflowers are rather gangly plants. They make up for this on the scent stakes though.

When I started growing my own flowers for cutting I invested in two really great books by Sarah Raven. The first is my flower bible, The Cutting Garden: Growing and Arranging Garden Flowers with loads of information and inspirational photographs. The second Grow Your Own Cut Flowers is based on her BBC TV series, which unfortunately I didn’t see. It’s a practical, hands on book that would be the perfect present for anyone who wants to grow flowers in their garden. Despite having the first book I gleaned loads more information from the second one too. Clearly judging by the amazon price, this book is now out of print but it would be worth sniffing about on the Internet for a cheaper copy. I did find this superb article by Sarah Raven in The Telegraph here . This has loads of information and is a great resource for anyone wishing to start or continue to grow their own flowers for cutting.


  Leave a reply


  1. Thanks for the information on planting for cutting.Sarah Raven fan here too!

  2. Izzy Bee

    Thank you for the very helpful post

  3. Thrift Bee

    What a great and timely post. We are about to undergo a massive garden makeover due to some required excavation. Part of my plan is to have large areas given over to cut flowers. I was reading Sarah Raven this morning. She also did a series of articles for Country Living, you have reminded me that i need to get the book out of the library.
    I’ll be buying sweet william and wallflower seeds over the weekend. Many thanks for your perfectly pitched post!

  4. brightspark

    Each year we have a dark chocolate/burgundy-flowered regal pelargonium that flowers profusely, so profusely that we give complete potloads to a local lady who takes cuttings to sell for charity.
    Last year she ‘swapped’ us – and gave us Sweet Williams in return. I couldn’t agree more with you about their beauty, their scent and so long-lasting, they have been an exceptional planting for us.

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