My Allotment Cutting Patch in September

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It has been a difficult year on my plot here in Wales. The weather has been dreadful with so much rain, cool temperatures and strong winds; to be honest I’m surprised anything has survived there. My cut flowers have been quite hit and miss, with biennials and early sown plants doing well, but later flowering plants have struggled.

Their early growing period was hit by the wet spring and summer. I had to sow some seeds several times as they were either eaten by slugs, rotted or just failed to germinate because the conditions weren’t right. When I finally had plants big enough to put into the ground we had even more rain and so little sun I don’t think they grew at all for 4 weeks. As a result, plants such as zinnias, annual asters and rudbeckias are behind on where I would expect them to be at this time of year.

These are the flowers that I would rely on in late summer/early autumn to provide me with autumn colour for my flower pickings but some are only just starting to flower. Fortunately, last autumn I planted a patch of herbaceous perennials at the plot, plants that I knew would provide me with some cut flowers. Whilst not as prolific as annuals, they have plugged the gap that these have struggled to fill this year.

I love the warm colours of autumn, the reds, oranges and yellows and flower heads of grasses. I wanted to pick a selection of flowers which would conjure up this sense of the changing seasons. The bouquet is made up of the perennials Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’, Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’, Red Valerian and the grassy plumes of Deschampsia cespitosa ‘Goldtau’. I also included some stems of a crocosmia that was already in my garden when I moved in.

I’m still managing to pick some sweet Williams, the dark red flowers working particularly well here. This is the first year I’ve grown annual asters. They got off to a very slow start and haven’t been as prolific as I would have hoped for but I’m sure it is due to all the rain. I’ve loved the asters that I have managed to cut so I’ll definitely grow them again next year. In this arrangement, the red variety adds to a feeling of autumn richness.

Picking the deschampia was actually a bit of an experiment. I wasn’t sure how long it would last in water and whether it would shed its flowers everywhere but to my delight it makes an excellent foliage addition, lasting a good ten days in water. The flowers of crocosmia open gradually from the bottom to the top of the stem, so for them to last, pick when these bottom flowers first open. I love using crocosmia and although it isn’t cut and come again, it makes up for this by having great seed pods which looks good used in arrangements, too.

Heleniums produce flowers over a long period and are an excellent herbaceous perennial to add to the cutting patch or your garden. They are one of a few perennials that will keep on producing flowers if you deadhead or cut for the vase. And finally, there is red valerian or Centranthus ruber. A plant that reminds me of holidays in Cornwall, I have several clumps in my garden and it’s so easy to propagate that a few plants have snuck up to the allotment. It is another perennial that will go on producing flowers from June to September if you deadhead or pick the flowers. So despite the weather I have still managed to bring some sunshine indoors.

Thanks for reading!