Wild LifeA guide to growing—and cutting—flowers.

Wild LifeA guide to growing—and cutting—flowers.

Issue 52

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  • Words Alice Vincent
  • Photo Christian Møller Andersen

Part of summer’s beauty is its ephemerality. It’s a time that’s sweeter for knowing there are only so many light evenings, bright mornings and warm, languid afternoons to appreciate. 

And so it is with summer gardening, when your hard work results in a display that looks its best for only a matter of days. One way to take advantage of this brief spell is to see summer as a kind of harvest season; to usher tall stems and blousy blooms from a handful of seeds and tie them up to take to a friend’s house as a party favor, hoping they don’t wilt on the way. 

Flowers grown for cutting need a bright spot in the garden, good fertile ground (lots of well-rotted matter in the soil and, failing that, organic liquid fertilizer added to damp soil) and regular watering. The best varieties to grow are the ones you enjoy the most—the blooms you want to cut and put in a vase. 

Some are more reliable than others, however. Calendula is an absolute stalwart, whether in a pot or in the ground, and turns up in shades of the softest yellow to luminous orange.1 Cosmos takes time to get going (you’ll want to sow it when it’s warm), but will offer you clouds of froth and light by late summer. Nigella, or love-in-a-mist, will take over your garden if you leave its bulbous seed heads in place after the season has finished. Sunflowers always astonish me with the ease with which they rise above the rest. Most of these will turn from seed to bloom in three months.

ISSUE 52

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