growing a hardy annual cutting patch

Sarah shows you her hardy annual cutting patch blooming in July, talking you through her favourite varieties to plant.

I'm standing in my hard annual cutting patch and these are the real backbone plants of any cutting garden. It's only three by four metres, so it's not huge, and from early June until early mid to late September I should be able to pick a bunch of flowers every two or three days - at least. And you can see, I mean, that's an underestimate right now. I can fill buckets at the moment. At the beginning of the season it's a bit less, at the end of the season, but now in July I could practically do a whole wedding just from this little three by four metre patch.

And so what I've got it one of my absolute favourite, favourite foliage plants which is Salvia viridis 'Blue' down there, the blue clary. And then another key foliage plant Euphorbia oblongata - which you must pick with gloves on because it has allergenic sap, you must be careful not to get it in your eyes - but I couldn't live without it. It is absolutely wonderful.

And then the beautiful scabious. Now if I'm lucky, this won't flower just till September, it will flower until Christmas. And how you get it to that is if you go away, in August say, and it goes to seed, literally get your hedging shears when you come back and cut it back by a third. It'll look a bit ropey for about a week but then suddenly you'll see lots of auxiliary buds will start to form and it'll go on flowering again, as I say, practically until Christmas. I genuinely have picked a bunch of scabious on Christmas Day, several Christmases running.

And then to give you whopper scale, if you want the odd large arrangement, there's the beautiful claret helianthus and I love that. And cerinthe, which I actually started picking in May this year, at its skirt. That's beginning to go over now but I'm allowing the seed to ripen. I'll collect the seed and then I can sow it again for next year.

Round the back is the calendula, again going over now, 'Indian Prince', and in the middle of the two, the best ever sweet peas 'Prince Edward of York' and 'Matucana', the most highly scented and most deliciously coloured. They're fantastic together just in a jam jar or a jug. What more can you want? And it's hardy, so this will grow up anywhere at all in the UK.

Oh! I just remembered I didn't mention, because it's around me right here, I didn't remember to mention malope, one of my real favourite hardy annuals. Beautiful Chinese lantern buds, Chinese lantern sepals, and these incredible satin magenta flowers. A fantastic cut flower.

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