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Fill your home with flowers this summer, start your own blooms from seed, plan a compact cutting patch, create modern displays, grow and arrange wedding flowers, fall in love with retro vases




ER S T F LOWau PE R F E C t be tiful ce on the mos – Expert advi blooms to grow and bountiful em th y la sp and how to di





Practical plans and bright ideas to get your flower patch started

15 PERFECT PLANTS FOR YOUR FLOWER PATCH Sarah Raven’s recommendations for the best fowers to grow – and arrange – this summer

8 GROWING NOTES Ideas for enhancing your time at your cutting patch.

68 ARRANGING NOTES Must-have foristry tools and exclusive advice.

10 CONNECT TO THE SEASON Discover the many benefts of garden-grown fowers.

70 THE ELEMENTS OF FLORAL DESIGN Five key principles for every arrangement.

56 PLANNING YOUR FLOWER PATCH How to prepare your patch for a bumper summer harvest.

72 CHOOSING THE RIGHT VASE Starting your collection of jugs, bottles and urns.

60 MAKE ORIGAMI SEEDLING POTS It’s easy to fold these recycled, biodegradeable seedling pots.

34 PLANNER & WALL ART Use our chart to plan your growing season – or decorate your home with foral inspiration.

Contemporary inspiration for filling your home with flowers

62 THE MAKING OF A FLOWER PATCH Grace Farrimond of Young Blooms shares her experience of creating a cutting patch.

74 YOUR GUIDE TO VASE SHAPES Take our tour of the basic styles. 76 CREATING A FAN DISPLAY Learn how to arrange in a classic low vase. 81 RECORDING YOUR FLOWER JOURNEY Snap a photographic diary of your blooms. 86 POTS OF STYLE Customise pots and vases to complement your displays.

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Beautiful ways to share what you’ve planted and picked, from confetti to chandeliers!

Ideas for expanding your skills and taking your planting to the next level

90 GIVING NOTES New ideas to help you share your blooms.

108 FLOURISHING NOTES Start dreaming of what you can achieve next year.

92 FLORAL THANKS Learn the art of the hand-tied bouquet.

110 ROSES FOR CUTTING Get started with the ultimate in foral decadence.

96 FINISHING TOUCH Handmade labels to add messages to bouquets and posies.

114 FIND YOUR PERFECT WORKSHOP We look at the options for learning new skills. Which one’s right for you?

97 BE YOUR OWN WEDDING FLORIST Grow fowers for the most memorable day. 100 CREATING A FLOWER CHANDELIER Our guide to a showstopping display. 104 MAKE NATURAL CONFETTI Discover the secrets of fresh petal confetti.

44 READER OFFER Get 20% off your order at Sarah Raven’s online store.

116 INSPIRATION FOR YOUR BOOKSHELF Our pick of the books you’ll want to return to again and again.

YOUR GROWING SEASON Sowing, planting and picking times stated in The Flower Patch refer to the average frost-free growing season in the UK, typically May to October. This corresponds to US zones 7-9. Conditions will vary according to your geographical location, so please note the date of your last spring frost and adjust your planting times accordingly.

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119 LEARNING THE BASICS All the growing and displaying information you need, from seed to vase.



Meet the hardest working flower in your patch! Fe w p l a n t s c a n k e e p u p w i t h t h e p r o l i f i c C o s m o s …


osmos is one of my absolute favourite plants. It gives you the highest square-inch productivity of any cut flower, so for every square foot that you plant, you’ll get more buckets of cut flowers from that square foot than you will with any other plant. Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’ has large, open flowers of pure white, with delicate apple-green foliage. It’s the classic cut flower and a supremely lovely garden plant that no one should be without. For a belt of

brightness try Cosmos ‘Dazzler’, which has large, open, buttercup-like flowers of carmine with delicate, feathery foliage – it’s beautiful, tall and airy. Cosmos lasts 10 days in a vase, produces at least two buckets of cut flowers a week from a one-metresquare patch and is in bloom from late June until November – so that’s nearly 50 buckets of flowers in one season from a small patch. They’re so easy to grow – careful staking is their only demand.

DISPLAY ADVICE Pick when the flowers are only just open for the longest vase life. Keep on top of dead-heading as they’ll flower faster than you can fill vases. Vase life: 7-10 days Flower category: Supporting flower


Your flower patch doesn’t require stunning views. A corner of a small garden will reap the same rewards.



P L A N N I N G Y O U R F L O W E R P A T C H Fe e l i n g i n s p i r e d b y t h e c h o i c e o f b l o o m s y o u c o u l d g r o w t h i s s u m m e r ? N o w i t ’s t i m e t o choose your favourites and plan your patch. J e n ny D i xo n i s yo u r g u i d e


s tempting as it might be to simply toss a selection of seeds into the soil for a random, ‘country meadow’ patch, a little planning will let you maximise the amount of flowers you can harvest, and will also keep your plants happy by ensuring they have enough space and light. The first thing to work out is how big your plot is. In terms of how much ground you need, a modest 2x2m (6x6ft) area will give you at least two vases of flowers per week through the summer and into autumn. It can be hard to visualise spaces, so just think of this as the size of a double bed. If you can lie down on the ground, with your arms out at your sides, then you have the space for a great flower patch. This is about the size of my own cutting patch, and I can vouch for how productive a small space can be. My patch is on an allotment where, for the past five summers, I’ve grown and cut my flowers and carried them home with a happier heart. Don’t be put off if you don’t have this much space available to you. Start smaller, use large pots or even borrow some ground from a friend – there’ll be enough floral bounty for you to pay your rent in bouquets. Having a bigger patch is an option too, of course, if the space is available to you, but if this is your first summer of growing it’s best to keep it manageable.

Making your wish list Planning my flower patch is a job I love. I’m sure there are lots of scientific ways to do this but I find it easiest to start by picturing a favourite vase and what flowers I’d most like to fill it with. A florist once advised me to select flowers I feel drawn to. This is a good start but I’d suggest adding a simple checklist to provide a boost of confidence to your head as well as your heart. Make a list of favourites, aiming for around 10 different types – you’ll be pleasantly surprised what fits into a ‘double bed’-sized patch. Take a look at the list of flower categories on page 17 and make a note of the category for each of your choices, then check that you have something from most of them. (This year, I’m not planting any specific ‘trailing’ plants, but the love-lies-bleeding and sweet pea foliage should do that job nicely.) Taking a few moments to plan like this will ensure that you have a great balance of flowers and foliage to arrange in a vase.

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A R R A N G I N G N O T E S Must-have tools and inspiration, a little floral h i s t o r y, a n d a d v i c e f r o m a n e x p e r t … THE ESSENTIAL TOTE BAG Beautiful and practical, this woven tote bag is just the thing to take into your flower patch to transport freshly picked blooms back to the house ready to be arranged. Sturdy and spaciously designed, each bag is individually handmade so no two are the same. £50 philippacraddock.com

MAKING A CLEAN CUT Whether you’re growing your own or arranging bought blooms, these stainless steel flower scissors will make life very easy. Designed with a serrated edge on one blade to increase the cutting power, they’ll make it a doddle to deal with multiple stems in a larger bouquet. The smooth handle is comfortable to grip and they can be clipped closed when you’ve finished using them. £18.50 gardentrading.co.uk

COLLECTABLES... THE FLOWER FROG Very little is known about the history of the flower frog. In fact, no one knows exactly why they were given the rather charming name, though it’s said that a patent was issued in the 1940s where it listed that this was a flower holder and sat in water

like a frog… and the name stuck. What we do know for sure is that they are the unsung heroes in a florist’s tool kit, designed to sit on the bottom of a bowl or vase to hold a flower arrangement firmly in place. Modern versions are inexpensive and can be found in florists or garden centres. Vintage designs are so gorgeous you might be tempted to start collecting them to display rather than to use. You can pick them up on eBay or Etsy, or at flea markets and antique shops, and they come in a range of shapes and materials, such as lead, pottery, glass, metal and even bronze. Professionals suggest having a few different types, ranging from spiky (like a hedgehog) which is great for thin, delicate stems; ones with holes (think lotus-flower seed head) for flowers with thicker stems, like tulips and lilies; while the hairpin frogs, which have wire loops, work best with stiff stems and branches.

TACKLING THORNY ISSUES Feel like a professional with this essential bit of kit that removes thorns and unwanted leaves in just a few seconds – and, most importantly, does so without bruising the flower stem £6.95 worm.co.uk

GET INSPIRATION FROM THE EXPERTS When it comes to finding inspiration for making your own bouquets, table arrangements and even hair accessories, there’s nothing like Instagram. What better place to find eyecatching posts from our leading florists, flower farmers and flower lovers? Floral doyenne and florist to the stars Vic Brotherson has a gorgeous feed with the very latest arrangements for you to try yourself (@scarletandviolet). With clients that include Kate Moss, Nigella Lawson, Sophie Dahl and Lily Allen, Vic unsurprisingly has over 30,000 followers and clearly knows a thing or two about appealing to her fans – you’ll be treated to seasonal highlights of how to make the most of cut flowers. Sharing some arranging tips and tricks exclusively with The Flower Patch, Vic says “Show home-grown flowers off to their fullest by using individual stems in slim necked bottles and vases to make a run of cut flowers all moving around and opening over time. Another trick is to cut a fern or get a handful of cow parsley from the hedgerow – it will automatically make your arrangement look completely different.” scarletandviolet.com


Arranging YOU



• Vase • Chicken wire with large holes • Pot tape • Pair of floristry scissors




Icelandic poppies, Roses, Astrantia, Scabious, Nerine, Ranunculas, Butterfly ranunculas, Tulips, Hellebores, Narcissi, Sprirea, Anenomes, Lisianthus, Mimosa, Autumnal eucalyptus




Arranging using chicken wire, rather than floral foam, is something we’re trying to do as much as possible. Not only is it much better for the environment but it also allows for a more airy and loose sort of arrangement. We think it allows the flowers to drink more too.



We call this shape of vase a fan vase as it lends itself to wide arrangements that fan out. They’re one of our favourite vases to arrange in. Their low, wide-brimmed openings are perfect for generous sized arrangements and look great on a windowsill or mantelpiece. T h e f low e r pa tc h


Step 1 Scrunch up the chicken wire and place it in your vase. You want to make a network of wires for your flower stems to sit in so bear this in mind when scrunching (you don’t want the holes to be too large or too tight). Using the pot tape make a grid to encase the chicken wire. Pour water into the vase.

Step 2 Next use your foliage to create a skeleton of a shape to work with. Make sure you strip any leaves from the stem that will fall below the water line. Cut all stems at an angle to encourage water uptake.

Step 3 Position your strong structural elements (that’s the twiggy spirea in this arrangement) to firm up the overall shape of your display.

Step 4 Add the dominant flowers – here they’re ranunculas, roses, narcissi, anenomes and Icelandic poppies. Don’t worry if things move about – it becomes easier to arrange the more you add. Again, remove any leaves below the water line and cut all the stems at an angle.

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C h o o s i n g f r o m y o u r f l o w e r p a t c h i s l i k e h a v i n g t h e m o s t g l o r i o u s f l o r i s t ’s s h o p r i g h t o u t s i d e y o u r b a c k d o o r. H e r e ’ s h o w t o m a k e t h e m o s t o f i t . . .


When to pick Cutting a stem does cause a flower a certain amount of shock but there’s lots to do to give it a happy indoor life. One of the most helpful tricks is to gather your flowers early in the day, while it’s cooler and the bloom is full of energy. The cool of the evening is good too. Carry a bucket of water with you and plunge the stems straight into it as soon as they’re cut. It’s best not to wait for a flower to be fully out to pick it. It will have a longer life and give an interesting, changing effect to displays if you cut it as it starts to open. You need to judge when the bud isn’t so tight that it won’t open at all and not so far open that it will shed its petals in a day. Once you have lots to choose from in your patch, it’s interesting to pick at stages in a plant’s life. For instance, if you don’t wait for sweet pea flowers to bloom they make really interesting foliage that lasts a long time in a vase.

KEEP IT CLEAN If you only remember one rule, then it’s to keep all your flower kit scrupulously clean. Jekka McVicar of Jekka’s Herbetum (jekkasherbfarm.com) sums it up well when she comments on secateurs and scissors: “Would you cut vegetables in your kitchen with a blunt dirty knife?” Of course not, and that’s how she urges us to think in the garden. This cleanliness extends to the container you put your flowers into when you harvest them. Give your buckets a good wash every time you use them. Erin of Floret ( floretflowers.com) recommends using dishwasher liquid as it you don’t have to fight to rinse out all the soap suds. What you’re doing is making sure there’s no bacteria, as this shortens flower life more than anything. One lovely low-effort answer is to pop your tools and vases into a sink full of water and add a sterilising tablet. Wait 15 minutes and your kit will be clean enough for your flowers.


Searing means immersing your flower stems in hot water after they’ve been picked but before they’re left to soak before being arranged. Most softstemmed plants will respond well to this technique and some woody stems too if you’ve been able to forage some extra foliage to go with your blooms. Opinion about water temperature varies. Sarah Raven is a fan of ‘searing’ stems, which means a very quick dip in boiling water. Martha Stewart, in her new book, Martha Stewart Flowers, is an advocate of a longer plunge in slightly cooler water, and for dahlias she has the following advice: “Place them in very hot water in the vase and let it cool. Warm water transfers up the stem faster and is especially important with dinner plate dahlias to ensure the big blooms don’t become thirsty when freshly cut.” It’s a little bit of an experiment to see what suits you and your flowers. As a rule, you should aim to dip around 10 per cent of the total stem length in water for 30 seconds (reduce this for shorter stems and increase for woody stems). Note that flowers that come from bulbs really don’t like searing and prefer the more gentle approach of being wrapped in a collar of paper while they’re having their prearranging rest.

MAKING FLOWERS LAST LONGER Your cut flowers won’t live forever, of course, but there are plenty of things you can do to make sure your arrangements last as long as possible: * Change the water in your display every few days to keep it fresh. * Add a little flower food, following the quantities recommeded on the tub or sachet and don’t be tempted to overdo it. Flower food has two main ingredients: something to kill bacteria and something to feed the flowers – think carbs for flowers. You can fall back on the homemade version by adding a dash of bleach and a spoonful of sugar to the vase. We also heard that vodka has a beneficial effect in the water but can’t say we’ve put that to the test – and suspect there are better uses for vodka. * Retrim the cut ends of flowers and foliage. * Make sure none of your foliage is below the waterline as this will accelerate the growth of bacteria. * Where possible put your flower display somewhere away from heat and strong sunlight, which does seem counter-intuitive given that these are the exact conditions flowers crave when outdoors. * If you want to enjoy flowers in the kitchen, keep them away from the fruit bowl. The same chemical that encourages fruit to ripen will also make flowers age faster.



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Plan and plant your cutting patch from scratch, give a contempory bouquet, be inspired by local flower farmers, fold origami plant pots, learn new skills on a workshop, share your story on Instagram, follow the latest floral trends





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The Flower Patch  

The Flower Patch is a brand new magazine dedicated to growing and arranging your own flowers. Packed with expert advice and fresh ideas, inc...

The Flower Patch  

The Flower Patch is a brand new magazine dedicated to growing and arranging your own flowers. Packed with expert advice and fresh ideas, inc...