How to start your own cutting garden, by three of Britain’s most successful flower growers

Nothing compares to home flowers in beauty, variety and fragrance. Tiffany Daneff asks three UK growers for the best advice on starting your own cut garden.

[Jump down to the best plants to grow in a cutting garden]

Five tips for growing a cut garden from George’s Garden Flowers of Shropshire.

  • 1. When growing on a large scale, consider placing the plants on a grid, leaving room for a tractor between the rows. In Flower and Farmer, perennial beds are arranged in 20-by-12-foot blocks with eight rows each.
  • 2. Install drip irrigation to combat drought and improve efficiency
  • 3. Plant in weed control cloth
  • 4. Tulips can be picked up and stored with the bulb included for up to five days (without refrigeration) to prolong their useful life.
  • 5. Grow a variety of flowers so that there is always something to pick in any weather.

The idea of ​​starting a flower growing business from home came to Georgie Fordham while she was sitting on a beach in Cornwall in the summer of 2020. It occurred to her how hard it was to buy good flowers locally, unlike imported gerberas and unscented roses. “I liked the idea of ​​UK-grown seasonal flowers, so when I got back home and then to Wappenham in Northamptonshire, I ordered lots of tulip and daffodil bulbs and planted them in the garden to complement the herbaceous plants. perennials in borders.

That winter, she took a two-week floristry crash course with Judith Blacklock in Knightsbridge, followed by a six-week online course with inspiring American florist Erin Benzakin at Florets Farm in Washington, USA.

Georgie Fordham.

Mrs Fordham sold her first bouquets in February 2021. “I emailed my friends husbands and boyfriends to see if they would like to order flowers for Valentine’s Day and ended up with 28 orders that I delivered by hand within a 25 mile radius of our house. and also in London.

As more inquiries came in, she needed more flowers than she could grow, and as a result, in the spring of 2021, she contacted Flower and Farmer in the nearby village of Gilesborough. “Instead of flowers that are imported from abroad and all look the same, they are fresh and individual, each flower looks different.” She then discovered Anna Brown, who was growing flowers in a field near Oxfordshire.

After moving to Shropshire, Mrs Fordham will focus on funeral flowers, an area that has been slower to adapt to the use of seasonal British flowers, and is planning a series of personal events to make wreaths and related bouquets.
07712 890222;

Scabiosa atropurpurea ‘Red Merlot’ and ‘Snow Maiden’

Embrace the ephemeral, seasonal beauty – Flower and Farmer, Northamptonshire

Millie Naden-Robinson’s dream to turn her love of flowers into a sustainable business came true in 2018 when she joined forces with her aunt, Jo de Nobriga, a knowledgeable and down-to-earth horticulturalist. The couple now sell buckets of seasonal flowers, as well as hand-tied bouquets and mail-order dried flowers.

‘Our target is to embrace the ephemeral, seasonal beauty of flowers grown in the UK,” says Ms Naden-Robinson. “This is combined with a commitment to develop environmentally friendly practices in agriculture and floristry.” Consequently, the company’s flowers are not treated with pesticides or fungicides.

Jules Allerton and Millie Naden-Robinson of Flower and Farmer in a pesticide-free perennial field in Gilesborough, Northamptonshire, where the season continues until the first frost. They recommend cutting dahlias with as long a stem as possible.

After careful planning, a small paddock on a 500-acre family farm was fenced in, plowed into strips, and enriched with tons of well-rotted mulch. Hardy annuals, perennials and herbaceous plants are now growing in the area, and two polytunnels have been added for the sheltered cultivation of tender plants. “It was a revelation to see such good soil quality after 60 years of working with grass,” says Jules Allerton, third team member. The second plot of 2.5 acres is reserved for shrubs and perennials. “When we started,” adds Ms. Allerton, “we didn’t use enough landscaping materials; now almost everything is heading towards it.

Sweet Pea in Wappenham, Northamptonshire

“Sprouts take longer than tubers and you get fewer flowers, but they are much more reliable.” – Anna Brown, Oxfordshire

Anna Brown grew up on a small raspberry farm near Seattle in the US and met her British carpenter husband Robbie while traveling. The couple settled in Wardington in Oxfordshire around 2012. Coincidentally, her father-in-law had a field that adjoined a garden owned by the Wardington estate, where Bridget Elworthy opened a cut flower business, The Land Gardeners. , with Henrietta Courtauld.

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After working for several years as a gardener on the estate, Mrs Brown opened her own business in 2018 on part of her father-in-law’s field, selling only to florists and Covent Garden Market. “At first we had to spray the thistles,” she says, “but we haven’t used chemicals since.” Since the site does not have a polytunnel, her partner, local resident Philip Watts, plants a lot of seeds in his greenhouse, which is a big boon.

Anna Brown at work in her south-facing garden.

The flower year begins with tulips. Last summer, Mrs. Brown ordered 12,000 bulbs of 200 varieties, mainly Parrot, Peony and Double tulips. From May to July, the farm will grow mainly the favorite plants of the country garden, as well as hardy plants such as peonies and delphiniums, and then dahlias. They are bought as shoots from the Halls of Heddon in Newcastle upon Tyne. “Seedlings take a little longer to develop than tubers and you get a little less flowers, but they are much more robust and regular in shape.”

Dahlias are grown in beds 2 feet 6 inches wide, a yard apart, and hung every three yards. Between the stakes is a 6-inch plastic mesh that holds the plants securely.

Dahlia ‘Santa Claus USA’

Dahlia beds are fertilized, and adult seedlings are fed with seaweed to give them a good start. “In the summer it’s non-stop – we live on cheese and crackers. But from December to February, I take off the gas pedal and there is actually time to cook food.”

When the sun rises over the field and flowers bloom, the spectacle compensates for all difficulties.

07871 331340;

Rudbeckia is a successful late season flower at Brown Flowers in Wardington, Oxfordshire.

Learn more about growing a cutting garden

Courses Judith Blacklock Flower School, 4–5 Kinnerton Place South, London SW1 (020–7235 6235; and online with Floret Flowers, Washington, USA (

Books Year in flowers And Introduction to dahlias Erin Benzakin; Buying and Organizing Cut Flowers: A Basic Guide from A to Z Judith Blacklock

Member Association of Horticulturalists Flowers from the farm, UK contributors (

The best plants to grow in a cut garden

All of the plants below are recommended by our experts.

The best plants to grow in a polytunnel

italian ranunculus Delighted to grow big and strong

poppy nudecaule Icelandic poppies come in a variety of lovely mixed colors.

Best cut plants

Centauri Montana And C. Montana was. Alba Perennial cornflowers that last all season if trimmed and pruned regularly.

caucasian scabies was. Alba Semi-evergreen perennial with pure white flowers up to four months old.

Aquilegia Excellent versatile garden plant

Phlox paniculata Try pearly pink ‘Monica Lynden-Bell’ and vibrant ‘Peacock Cherry Red’

Sweet pea Seeding earlier for longer stems

antirin A series of terry flowers Madama Butterfly is highly recommended. The Potomac series handles the heat well. Buy forks as seeds are unreliable

Penstem Try scarlet P. bearded ‘Jingle Bells’ and wine-dark foliage P. digitalis “Husker Red”

Lavatera in trimester “Dwarf Pink Blush” Lasts for centuries in a vase

Ammi Visnaga Indispensable mixer

Gladiolus “Bride” Its pure white star-shaped flowers should overcome any anti-smooth prejudice. Also try acid green Evergreen and orange brown Bimbo.

acidantera A beautiful fragrant autumn bulb that deserves more fame.

evening primrose lindheimery (previously hole) Treat it like an annual and sow from seed every year

Never forget the ever-popular roses, delphiniums, larkspurs and peonies, which were later followed by hydrangeas (always cut the stems at the base), sunflowers (try the lovely terracotta brown Infrared F1), dahlias (avoid heavy flowers at the tops), geleniums and rudbeckias .

Plants that are good fillers

Order grandiflora Cream flowers in late spring/early summer

matiasella bupleuroids Green bracts from April to June before turning pink.

Spirea arguta (wedding wreath) As the name suggests, it is covered in tiny white flowers in May.

Philadelphus For flavor

Lunaria Beautiful green foliage followed by dried seed heads

Perennial gypsophila Try the Bristol Fairy

Pyrethrum Prolific and perfect with so many flowers

Francoa soncifolia Summer flowering evergreen perennial

Cosmos two-feathered There is a huge and growing selection of these late summer stars. Place them in a vase to encourage buds to open.

viburnum Foliage and berries with a red tint in late summer

The Best Plants for Gorgeous Foliage

Pennysetum orientalis ‘Carly Rose’ Perennial herbaceous plant with dark pink flowers.

annual herbs They are better preserved than perennial species. Try Pennisetum villous, P. Thunbergii “Red Buttons” and elegant panic “Splashes”

Salix gracilistyla ‘Mount Aso’ Pink willow with silver-blue foliage

Herbs Lemon balm, mint, sage and rosemary

sagebrush For feather silver leaves

Raspberries Increasingly popular summer leafy plant

Spurge Try E. oblong And E. dense

Alchemilla soft Keep cutting it down to produce new growth

Buplerum round-leaved ‘Garibaldi’ For extra barrel length

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