Now that growing our own fruit and veg has swept the country in a surge of enthusiasm, it’s sparked a revival in the idea of growing cut flowers. But not just sweet peas, dahlias and all the old favourites.
Back in 2009 a book came out which takes the whole idea a big step farther. Woody Cut Stems for Growers and Florists by Lane Greer and John Dole (Timber Press) is a fat, comprehensive book on growing, harvesting and treating shrubs and other woody material for cutting. From Aucuba to Vitis, although this book is intended for professional growers and florists the fact that it gives detailed advice on such a wide variety of woody material makes the rest of us realise what a vast variety of woody cut material remains relatively undiscovered.
I should also mention that the book comes with a big dose of built-in reality. The first two sections of each entry are Why You Should Grow It followed by Why You Shouldn’t. It’s not one of those books bursting with unrelenting, but unrealistic, overenthusiasm. For example.
On Callicarpa: “All Callicarpa species offer fantastic shimmering purple fruit, the colour of which is absolutely matchless…”
And on Malus: “Crabapples are heavily disease prone. Most types need several years to get established. Flowers are short-lived. Fruits are favorites of bids.”
This real world approach is largely derived from then fact that the authors spoke to a wide cross section of commercial growers, many specialising in woody material, who are quoted throughout the book. So the advice on growing, pruning, selecting varieties, harvesting and how to treat the cut material to ensure the longest life is derived from the techniques of real growers.
Look up Cotinus or Hamamelis or Ligustrum or Physocarpus or Viburnum or one of the other hundred woody plants included and find out how to grow it, harvest it and treat it so it lasts. Suddenly the range of cut material you can grow is hugely enhanced.