From the Allotment Cutting Patch in October

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The nights are getting longer, the days shorter and there is a distinct chill to the air on the allotment now. I had been hoping for an Indian summer but an early frost looks more likely. The annual flowers on the cutting patch are fading now. If I remember, I pop some little brown paper envelopes in my pocket when I go up to the plot now, to collect seeds from the scabious, calendula and cornflowers.

I find it a bitter-sweet time of year. I’m sad to see the last of the flowers and to be picking the final posies before autumn truly sets in. The house starts to feel bare as the cut flowers dwindle and I realise just how much having so many flowers in the house means to me. But I’m also planning for next year. A whole bed, christened the ‘spring bed’ has been planted with biennials such as stocks, Iceland poppies, sweet rocket and my favourite sweet Williams.

Narcissi are now buried in the ground, tucked up in their own duvet of soil waiting for the first glimmers of warm spring sunshine to encourage them into life. My tulips are ordered. So far, I think I have been quite restrained with the number of tulips I’ve bought but there is plenty of time between now and November, when I need to plant them for a few more purchases. Winter is always a difficult time for me.

The feeling of hibernation that takes over goes against my natural inclination to be outdoors but the joy of gardening is the sense of hope it brings and the need to look forward. In only 4 months time snowdrops will be poking through the ground and another growing season will start. It’s thoughts like this, a stack of seed catalogues and plenty of stews and crumbles that gets me through the dark and cold of winter.

And, so to my last posy from the cut flower patch for this year. To provide some foliage I picked a few stems of Viburnum tinus ‘Gwenllian’ that is growing in my garden. An evergreen shrub, it is a great plant for providing additional pickings for the cutting patch. Not only does its foliage last well when cut, at any point between early autumn and spring it will produce small pink flower buds that open into delicate little white flowers and small blue-black berries with a metallic sheen then follow.

  The perennial Sedum spectabile is a superb garden plant, coping equally well with drought or the deluge that we’ve had this summer. It isn’t cut and come again in terms of picking unfortunately. If it were it would be perfect, but a few well established clumps will provide a few stems of long lasting cut flowers here and there throughout the autumn.

A seed mix of tall scabious has been a real success, providing flowers from July and they’re still flowering. I particularly love the dark, plum coloured flowers that I used here and the white versions add a touch of brightness to an arrangement.

Cosmos ‘Candy Stripe’ continues the white and pink theme. A highly productive plant, the flowers last longest if picked when only just opening. Two of my favourites this summer have been Daucus carota ‘Black Knight’ and Ammi visnaga. The delicate feathery foliage of Ammi is a useful addition to an arrangement and I much prefer the chunkier flower heads of visnaga than its relative Ammi majus.

The Daucus took a while to get going because of the dreadful weather this summer but perseverance paid off. The beautiful pinkish-plum coloured umbels last an age in water and it’s such beautiful filler, with the colour working well with both pastels and stronger hues.

And finally, I added a few stems of the grass Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’ to give the posy a feeling of height and airiness.

Thanks for reading!