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In 2007, the Cut Flower Garden was re-designed by the then gardeners, Stephen and Hilary. The old borders gave way to a more formal bed pattern with gravel path ways leading through the garden and to the Potager beyond. The new design also gave us a chance to expand the Cut Flower Garden and most importantly have access to the garden for cameras.

Previously, we grew a range of dahlias and lots of half hardy annuals in the borders. One year the garden even had a rainbow theme. However, in the years to come, Lesley is hoping to incorporate more perennial plants that produce flowers for picking as well as more hardy annuals. This will help cut down on labour, as half hardy annuals have to be started off in a greenhouse here in Aberdeen. Lesley also uses a range of bulbs to give colour earlier in the year. Both tulips and alliums make great cut flowers.

If you want to grow cut flowers, you don't need a special area of the garden to grow them. The varieties used lend themselves to most types of gardening styles. You could grow a few rows in your vegetable plot or plant some of the annuals to fill gaps in your existing borders. Some varieties of dahlias grow very well in containers and thus do two jobs at once: brightening up a patio and providing cut flowers for the house. There are even perennials that can be used as fresh or dried cut flowers, like achillea and astrantia.

Supporting the plants is really important so that they grow with straight stems - it's really difficult to arrange flowers when there is a 90o angle in the stem. If you're growing cut flowers in a straight border, try wide gauge netting stretched over the beds and border that the plants grow through. As the season progresses, move the support up the plants a little so that they don't flop. This method works well in any herbaceous border. Of course, there are also loads of other products for supporting flowers, but one of the prettiest ways is to just use hazel sticks. If they still have some small branches, it gives more support. Also, if they're still pliable, you can weave them together which adds to the charm.


Some of our favourite plants for cut flowers include:

Nigella (Love-in-a-mist)
This old favourite is one of the few true blue flowers around, but there are varieties in other colours as well. It's quite an unique flower and grows easily from seed.

Papaver (poppy)
There is something very romantic and enchanting about the large, papery petals of poppies. If using them as a cut flower, dip the cut tips of the stems into boiling water or flame them with a match or lighter, which is said to help them last longer in the vase. Alternatively, let them go to seed, as the seed head makes a great addition as a dried element to an arrangement.

Clarkia

Lathyrus (sweet pea)
A simple posie of sweet peas is all you need in the summer time. Not only are the flowers lovely, but they have a wonderful fragrance too. For best results, train sweet peas up an obelisk or trellis, loosely tying in the stems as they grow. Also, carefully trim tendrils and sideshoots so that all the energy goes into producing large flower stems.

Tulips
Pick a colour, any colour. Tulips are quite easy to grow for cut flower arrangements. If you don't have bed space, plant the bulbs up in a deep pot or tub in the autumn. The flowers will last for 2-3 weeks when picked in bud. There are lots of styles of flowers, from traditional to multi-headed to lily headed, so be creative.