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Arthur Parkinson on growing flowers outside for a life inside

Arthur Parkinson on growing flowers outside for a life inside

I’ve learnt to be far less snobby about growing flowers lately; because I cut them for the vase, this allows my planting to be free, with an eye for colour and shape rather than planning colour schemes in pots and border. When it comes to cut flowers, you can be far more crazed. I like flowers to be weird and wonderful for cutting. My favourite way to display them inside is simply in single stem vases or even shallow bowls. I’ve found that circus-like, larger than life, almost bonkers in form flowers can take a room by storm and once you start arranging them in single stems, you’ll never look at a plant catalogue in the same way again! I like to grow varieties that I know I won’t be able to buy too and if I can, I choose flowers that will scent a room – they’re so wonderful in bathrooms and by the bedside. Scent, character, charm and scale are the essentials here, regardless of the season, and don’t forget about seed heads either for the winter months.

Tulips for cutting

  • Peony tulips are so full of petals, that in wet and windy spring, they are much better off being cut for the vase than being left out. Try ‘Palmyra’ – the richest, red wine peony tulip – ‘Brownie’, which are like burst toffee popcorn and ‘Orange Princess’, with the real orange character of the richest Jaffa cake orange.
  • Parrot tulips are my favourite group of tulips, with buds like dragon’s eggs that slowly colour up and open like wax creations. You can never plant too many of these for cutting. ‘Black Parrot’ is a tall and elegant classic tulip of the deepest mulberry. ‘Rococo Parrot’ is an early and short variety of green, orange and red. It opens out in the vase like a crazed sea creature. For a huge orange and green flecked goblet like a fat goldfish on a stem, try ‘Parrot King’. Finally, ‘Flaming Parrot’ is a true class clown with swirls of red, yellow and white.
  • Cosmos – you still have time to sow cosmos for cut flowers this year; sow them now and you will have flowers for September if not before. Choose the semi doubles such as ‘Cranberry Click’ or ‘Fizzy White’ as these are great for cutting with extra petals but are still accessible to bees who will love the nectar. The more you cut cosmos, the more they’ll flower right through to the very first hard frost.
  • I never used to like grasses and I’m not taken with many perennial ones but the excitable sparkler seed heads of the annual panicum ‘Frosted Explosion’ – also called ‘Sprinkles’ and ‘Sparkling Fountain’ – is one of my desert island seeds of all time. I love it in the garden and in the vase. Pick it and save it for Christmas decor too.
  • The perennial foliage of cardoons and artichokes have leaves like William Morris outlines, and all gardens will benefit from these. They are happy in a large pot such as an old Dustbin.

Arthur Parkinson: @arthurparkinson_
Garden Day takes place on Sunday 9 May. Visit www.gardenday.co.uk for information and inspiration on how to celebrate Garden Day at home.

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Published at Fri, 07 May 2021 12:25:21 +0000

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