July at the cut-flower garden 🌞

published5 months ago
5 min read

The New Provincial

July 2023

July has arrived, bringing joy and anticipation to us gardeners as we embrace the early days of summer. It’s a time for celebration and appreciation as we begin to reap the rewards of our hard work. The vegetable patch is yielding its bountiful produce, the flowers are in full bloom, and our sun-kissed skin is evidence of our dedicated efforts.

Amidst the abundance of the garden, it’s natural to feel a sense of overwhelmed with the tasks that lie ahead. In addition to our regular duties, we now have to harvest, condition, arrange, and possibly even sell our flowers. But fear not, for today’s newsletter will break down everything you should do in July for a thriving cut flower garden.

Before we start, I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself to those who have recently started to follow my flower adventures.

I'm Romane, and welcome to The New Provincial, a newsletter dedicated to celebrating flowers. I'll be sharing practical tips and inspiration to help you create a thriving and (profitable) cut flower garden.

For two years, I cultivated and sold flowers in England, but I've now moved back to Bordeaux, France, where I'm starting fresh with my urban allotment. I invite you to join me on this journey! Each month, you'll receive a practical list of gardening tasks, planting tips, a cut flower profile, and highlights of my favourite flower artists, growers, and florists. Let's dive in!

Jobs completed in June

✔️ Plant out half-hardy annuals and dahlias

✔️ Sow biennals for early spring blooms

✔️ Keep on top of the weeds

✔️ Deadhead all the early blooms

✔️ Cut back perennials after flowering for another flush of flowers later

Your July tasks

July is an awkward time for us gardeners: it doesn’t possess the bustling energy of early spring when tending to seedlings is paramount, nor does it bring forth an abundance of blooms just yet. However, amidst the prevailing holiday atmosphere, there are still important tasks to undertake in the garden.

  1. Pinch cosmos, dahlias, zinnias, and sunflowers to promote bushier growth and an increased number of blooms, if you haven’t already. This should be done when these plants reach around 30cm in height and have several fully formed leaves.
  2. Provide support for your dahlias by staking them early on. As your plants are still relatively small, now is an ideal time to establish plant support. Bamboo canes, small fences, string, and netting can all be utilised to prevent stem breakage and encourage longer, healthier stems. Trust me, performing this task next month when the plants have doubled in size will be much more challenging.
  3. Adjust your watering routine as needed. Depending on your location, you may need to increase the frequency of watering. Remember to water your plants early in the morning or late in the evening, at the base of the plant, to minimise evaporation.
  4. Continue to deadhead flowers. When harvesting or deadheading dahlias and cosmos, make deep cuts into the new flowering shoots to stimulate the growth of fresh blooms. Don’t hesitate to sacrifice a few buds, as this will result in more growth soon.
  5. Maintain weed control, particularly around smaller plants. Taking proactive measures to manage weeds now will save you from greater difficulties later on when the plants have grown larger.
  6. Feed your dahlias with a high-potash fertiliser, such as tomato feed, once they started blooming to support their growth.

Flower of the month:

Today, I want to talk more about cosmos, one of my favourite cut flowers. An annual, it will start flowering by late June or early July and, if taken care of, will bloom until the first frost. Cosmos are undeniably generous in nature. Each year, I find myself growing an excess of plants, unsure of what to do with the abundance of blossoms. However, I simply cannot resist these delicate flowers and make the same mistake repeatedly.

🖋️ Botanical name: Cosmos bipinnatus

🌱 Type: Annual

🗓️ When: Sow seeds undercover in March-April, or direct sow in May. Plant out seedlings once the frosts have passed in late May or June

🌞 Where: in full sun, in well-drained soil

👩‍🌾 Harvest: from early July to late October

💐 Vase life: 5 to 7 days

🐝 Pollinator friendly: Yes

🥀 Drying: No

📚 Pressing: Yes, for some varieties

When selecting the perfect cosmos, consider its size. Like many flowers, you’ll find both giant and dwarf varieties. For cut flower purposes, I prefer using giant cosmos due to their longer stems, although they require staking and support. Dwarf varieties work wonderfully in pots and containers.

Second, think of the colour palette: cosmos come in a wide array of hues, offering you a plethora of options to choose from. Personally, I enjoy growing a mix of colours, allocating around 40% to white cosmos (which serve as fillers in bouquets), and dividing the remaining 60% between pink, yellow, and orange-toned flowers.

Cosmos are often mostly known for their simple, pastoral appearance but there are out there some truly magical varieties. I’ve listed some of my favourites below:

Apricot Lemonade

Blush Cupcake





Cosmos flowers are incredibly beginner-friendly and a breeze to grow. For optimal results, sow the seeds successively in seed trays indoors, under cover, starting in early March. Once they have developed their first set of leaves, transplant them into individual pots. When the risk of frost has passed, plant them in a sunny location. Once they start thriving, you’ll need to:

  • pinch the plants to encourage more growth
  • stake and support the plants early, to avoid breakage and encourage straight stems
  • just like dahlias, when harvesting, cut deep into the plant to promote more blooms
  • deadhead every few days to keep the flowers coming
  • feed lightly throughout the summer
  • harvest the flower when it just starts to open for optimal vase life

Sadly, cosmos do not dry well: due to their delicate nature, the petals will tend to fall off after a few days. That being said, some varieties will press nicely when handled delicately.

Book of the month: On Flowers, Amy Merrick

When in need of flower inspiration, nothing beats wandering in a National Trust walled garden in the middle of June. Second to that, I could not live without books written by some of my favourite floral artists, florists and growers. Over the past few years, I’ve amassed an extensive collection of flower books, which I frequently consult and proudly display in my office or on my coffee table. Each month, I will share with you the book that has captivated my attention most recently, allowing you the opportunity to discover and expand your own collection.

“On Flowers” is not a comprehensive guide that will impart all the knowledge necessary to cultivate the most productive flower garden. However, it serves an equally, if not more, significant purpose: it celebrates the essence of living a life intertwined with flowers. It invites us to cherish the moments spent tending to our gardens, foraging in the hedgerows, stumbling upon a hollyhock sprouting from a crack in the pavement, or simply inhaling the fragrant aroma of roses. The book showcases flowers in all their diverse shapes and forms, presenting artistic arrangements, poetic verses, and personal reflections.

I hold great affection for this book because it serves as a poignant reminder of why I love flowers so much. If you find yourself in need of a gentle nudge to recall why you invest substantial time, energy, and resources into your cherished flower patch, then this book is for you.

Much love,

113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205
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The New Provincial

Join me as I attempt to grow organic flowers, create calligraphy art or simply share the joys of living creatively. You can expect loads of pictures of dahlias, craft projects and, every now and then, maybe a picture of my cat!​

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