Cut Flowers: Bloom Gardener’s Guide
by Celestina Robertson
Frances Lincoln, £12.99
Cut Flowers is an almost pocket-sized title that contains a surprising amount of hard-working information.
It begins by setting the context for why we should grow our own cut flowers. Spotlighting the mass-market flower industry, grower Celestina Robertson highlights the use of chemicals, carbon emissions, which are greater in flowers grown in European glasshouses than those flown over from Africa, and questionable employee welfare practices. The good news is that communities of small-scale growers are increasing. The ‘slow flower movement’, which operates on similar principles to the ‘slow food movement’ of social and environmental justice, is happily on the rise.
Beyond industry ethics, Cut Flowers delivers the promise of its lengthy subtitle with advice on how to prepare the ground, sow seed, nurture, harvest and fill your vases. There is much to know and Robertson packs it in.
First, not all cut flowers are made equal. The ability to remain hydrated is crucial (avoid pear blossom and elder) and steer clear of plants that suffer from ‘shattering’ (a sudden drop of petals). There is also guidance on growing for floral design, how much to grow and colour schemes.
Then there is the nitty-gritty of planning your space. If it is tiny, use one good-sized pot or grow climbers. If it is shady, choose from the list of shade-loving plants. Robertson delivers sustainable practices of horticulture – create no-dig beds and use water-saving drip irrigation.
A seasonal plant catalogue with lovely evocative photography provides tips for each plant on when to cut, vase life and how to dry. Finally, readers learn how to care, condition and arrange their flowers – recipes are provided for inspiration. If you care about the provenance of the products you buy, and the benefits of sustainable and ethical practices, or you’re a novice grower who wants to know more, then Cut Flowers is the book for you.