July 15, 2011

the cut flower series: books and blogs

When starting a new venture we all need a little inspiration and guidance, right?

I know that when I got the gardening bug I was longing to have lots of colour and scent in the garden, but wasn't sure where to start, and found so much choice and information a bit bewildering to be honest. It was the four books below and a belter of a workshop by Sarah Raven that got me believing this was something within my capabilities. A handful of fabulous blogs fired my enthusiasm and still provide shedloads of inspiration on a weekly basis.

Which is why, at the start of this little series on growing and arranging cut flowers, I am going to share with you why I think these favourite books and blogs might be helpful to you if you feel you could do with either more information or inspiration.


1.The Cutting Garden by Sarah Raven
This book is a brilliant place to start. Explains all the basics, and even if the cutting patch plans are a bit grandiose for most of us mere mortals, there is masses of sound information and well explained principles of garden planning that hold true for more modest plots.  Lots of floristy how-tos and ideas with step-by-step instructions.

2. Grow your own cut flowers by Sarah Raven
Bags of beautiful photos of all Sarah's favourite plants for growing to provide cut flowers with advice for growing and harvesting.There is an overlap of information with this book and the one above, but I still refer to both regularly. This one has less on planting plans and is generally more condensed. It is excellent for the must-have plant lists.

3. Garden to Vase by Beutler and Mandell
An american book with really useful and detailed information about growing and harvesting flowers in your garden. Linda Beutler manages a few laugh out loud one-liners which is an achievement! A really readable, straightforward but detailed "this is what to do with this plant" kind of bible of cut-flower growing. I got my second hand from amazon I think. I always refer to this book if I am dealing with a new variety.

4. Speciality Cut Flowers by Armitage and Laushman
This is a more technical handbook aimed really at (US) flower farmers, but is useful in that it gives very indepth descriptions about the optimum methods for growing, harvesting and conditioning your flowers. Geeky but super thorough!

If I was to only get two of these, it would be number 1 and 3, both so straightforward and practical, and the Sarah Raven one has her trademark glorious photos for inspiration amid the learning! Both give lots and lots of information but are not intimidating for the beginner. Mine are dog-eared with use.

Blogs: (in no particular order)

Where to begin? There are lots of floral blogs out there, as a simple google search will prove, but I am going to share with you my top five for  either plentiful helpful info and/or for providing wonderful inspiration. All these blogs are by working growers and/or florists. Although I don't know Amy Merrick, the wunder-florist behind An Apple a Day, I can vouch for the others being absolute gems into the bargain (and I'm sure Amy is too!). It is a friendly corner of the blog world.

1. Floret Flowers
Enough inspiration to float a flotilla of boats. Post after post of the exquisite flowers and interesting thoughts that spill out of the very full life of Erin at her flower farm in North West America. Unmissable peeps.

2. The Monkey Flower Group
I discovered Jaime's blog before I started blogging myself and am consistenly staggered and delighted by the artistry of her creations. In one area of her work she is pushing floristry towards a wearable art-form, you really have to see it to understand it. A-Maz-ing. I fear I hover, in a vaguely annoying maternalistic way over her burgeoning success. Sorry, Jaime, can't help myself. It is just that thing when you see someone very young and very talented rocking their artform, just brings out hopeless flagwaving instincts! Ha!

credit: Monkey Flower Group

3. An Apple a Day
Another stunning floral blog full of dreamy photos, and really beautiful writing. You'll want to trawl through the archives to mine the beauty - give your self some time and a pot of tea for this one. Some of her work has the slightly wild element I love the most.

4. Lotte and Bloom
Glasgow girl with more style and floral know-how than you could shake a stick at. Posts tend to be short and power punching and utterly addictive. Hate to miss a post. A blog full of fabulous ideas, brimful with confidence and originality. A cracker.

5. Small but Charming
A fantastically well written and friendly blog by Flwr Jane - I think all her followers would agree to know her is to love her and most of us are permanently crestfallen to live too far away to attend her legendary sounding parties!! While not simply a floral/garden blog, Jane is a florist who really knows her stuff and her love of flowers and gardening is infectious. Why not take part in her monthly 'flowers in the house' linkyparty? You will meet the loveliest bunch of flower fans and get inspiration along the way!

credit: Small but Charming
There are so many more gorgeous cut flower blogs worth exploring, JWBlooms, Higgledy Garden, Miss Pickering, Mayfield Flowers, Florist in the Forest, Botanical Brouhaha, Saipua, Little Pheasant, Bow Street Flowers, McKenzie Powell Designs Blog (love her work, check it out!), Snapdragon's Garden, 66squarefeet (you think you have a small garden?visit this rooftop in NYC)....I am scared of missing some out, but you get the picture, so many to delight and get the creative juices flowing.

Of course, there is also a ton of internet sites that give information about growing cut flowers, here are a few I visit now and again.

The RHS website, a veritable mine of plant information with a section about growing cut flowers.

Crocus, an utterly brilliant and pretty comprehensive UK plant supplier, but good for checking out varieties and getting plant info. If you can browse without buying you are stronger person than I! Expensive but the best quality plants I have ever bought. Sorry Sarah, close second.

Floralblogs, an international collection of floral blogs, good for finding new blogs and inspiration. The button is on my sidebar if you want a quick link.

Design*Sponge sometimes has lovely floral articles.

Sarah Raven Kitchen and Garden. Inevitably. Mainly for inspiration and information. But also for torturing myself with lovely examples of plants I can't afford to buy but really really want to!

Anyoldhoo, I hope that has given you some topnotch places to inspire and inform your cutting-patch adventure! Next friday, we will be getting into the nittygritty of choosing and designing a plot for your cut flowers, however big or small. Laters alligators, have a lovely weekend. xx


  1. Ah Erin ! She is a life force!!
    I am off to the bookstore. How do you keep your achillea standing up? Mine is lazy-it keeps spreading its arms and wants to lay down all the time. I have even removed the sprinkler heads, and installed drip tape. My Sedum does the same. Should I give it coffee?
    Thank You. The pictures are so lovely.

  2. ok, off to put the kettle on and then I'm going to have a good look at all those lovely links x

  3. Edi, it is a bit sprawling, but as i am cutting mine quite a bit for bouquets, I lop of the ones that are leaning! Otherwise, plant closely together with a group of them, they actually look best like that anyway I think, kind of praire look? Or stake, borrrring but if you use sticks they don't show much at all.

    Tess, enjoy, you have a treat in store if those blogs are new to you!x

  4. I will do just that. How I love being your pupil!

  5. I have a lot of links to check out, Sarah's books are very good and isn't that so true about Jane :) x

  6. Yay, Armitage! I love that guy.

    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful resources!! I'm trying to explore the blogs- a dangerous endeavor in wedding crunch time! - but really I've got to get out more, even if just in blogland. : )

    Thank you, too for your kind words! I feel like I have a wonderful fairy godmother watching over me, always there with amazingly generous and unwavering support. : ) Thank you again!

  7. delighted to be included in this. thankyou. love that photo of you too, just made me giggle...x

  8. A couple of blogs I really like are http://realcutflowergarden.blogspot.com, this Is Charlie Ryrie's experiences of growing cut flowers.

    I also like Sally Page's blog. Sally is a florist and photographer who has written several books. http://flowershopstories.blogspot.com/2011/07/tasty-bunch-of-florists.html

  9. Thanks for the mention.
    Another book worth looking at, that I often turn to, is The Flower Farmer by Lynn Byczynski, another American one but good for general info and an A-Z of cut flowers.

    Also Green and Gorgeous - Oxford based flower growers, don't often blog but worth a look.

  10. Belinda!!! I missed this post since I was on the road bright and early last Friday and had no time for blogging.( a miserable state of being)

    Thank you for including me in such an illustrious line up and for such kind words.

    You've truly made Fridays a true TGIF kind of day.

    xoxo Jane

  11. Thanks for sharing the information about the books i like it .

  12. Hi I just stumbled on your site .It is lovely. Do you know of a blogger that is based out of the Midwest?. I live in , USA. It's so sad to see lovely flowers that would not survive our unpredictable weather. Thank You!

  13. Your blog always, always stumps me with new information. Please keep us enlightened forever.