The Cutting Garden in October and a vase

We are almost at the end of another month and it is again time to review the cuttings bed.

Julie has said that she won’t be posting this month as sadly she can’t get out into the garden; so if you would like to leave your links here, I’d be very happy to coordinate and host for this month.

I returned home very late last Friday, well early Saturday really and was thrilled to see so much still flowering in the cuttings beds.  With the olive harvest and work commitments this week this is the first opportunity I’ve had to pick some of those flowers for a vase and to assess what has been happening in October.

Firstly I think I have learnt something which may be important to any of us growing Cosmos.


Self-seeders from this year’s plants looking rather good with my Black Tuscany cabbage

Last year's self-seeders are flowering their socks off

Last year’s self-seeders are flowering their socks off

Last year's self-seeders

Last year’s self-seeders

I have been commenting all summer that the self-seeded Cosmos from last year’s plants were much stronger than my plants from new purchased seeds this year; well those have also now self-seeded and surprise, surprise those plants are also much stronger and have much thicker stems.  So why might this be I asked myself and the conclusion I’ve come to is that my usual way of growing the Cosmos just doesn’t suit them, so it is all my fault.  My usual method is to sow into a small (one fifth size) seed tray and then prick out into individual modules to grow on before planting out.  I am sure now that Cosmos don’t appreciate all the root disturbance and this is why they are such weak plants.  My plan for next year is:

1) To sow one or two seeds into individual modules, and

2) Try direct sowing, which usually I don’t have all that much success with.

What do you do?

Only one plant of is growing well and producing flowers

Only one plant of Rudbeckia is growing well and producing flowers

I think the Rudbeckia need richer soil than they had this year, I will try again.

Chrysanthemums from cuttings taken last autumn

Chrysanthemums from cuttings taken last autumn

The Chrysanthemums haven’t had a fair chance to show what they can do this year.  I bought plants at about this time last year and took cuttings which all grew into plants, but I was very late finding a spot in the cuttings beds to plant them (I think it was September) and even so they have been a bit over-shadowed by taller plants around them.  I’m not sure they will earn a place; it will depend on how long their flowering season proves to be.  I think that like some vegetables it may be worth just buying pots of them when they come into the shops (there are always masses because everybody takes them to the cemetery for the Day of the Dead). Other plants are so much more generous – the Zinnias for instance have been flowering since the 10th June and are still going strong – that’s four months of vases from one square metre of ground, great value.

Chrysanthemums from cuttings taken last autumn

Chrysanthemums from cuttings taken last autumn

Leonastris continues to flower and produce the interesting seed heads

Leonastris continues to flower and produce the interesting seed heads

The amazing Zinnias

The amazing Zinnias

Plus there are more Zinnia buds to come, I wonder how long they will continue to fill my vases

Plus there are more Zinnia buds to come, I wonder how long they will continue to fill my vases

I used white Chrysanthemums, white Cosmos, Thai basil stems and olive branches for a vase today.

White Chrysanthemums in a square vase

White Chrysanthemums in a square vase

White Chrysanthemums and White Cosmos

White Chrysanthemums and White Cosmos

White Chrysanthemums

White Chrysanthemums

What are you picking from the garden this month?

Do feel free to leave a link to your post if you comment, no need to link back here unless you think it might be useful.


53 thoughts on “The Cutting Garden in October and a vase

  1. A very professional vase Christina. Olive branches are a nice touch. I sow cosmos directly into the soil, but it took them until September to bloom. Did you take leaf or root cuttings of the Chrysanthemums?

  2. When you refer to self-seeded cosmos do you mean that you find them popping up amongst the Cavola Nero with no help from you?
    Nasturtiums arrive every year carried through the compost and are still going strong. As are the calendula and the white and pink cosmos which hopefully will flower until the first frost. It’s still very mild in the south west which is lovely.

    • Yes, exactly that; this bed was used for Cosmos, Tithonia and Rudbeckia and earlier on for Ami; the Cosmos grew with spindly stems and died quite quickly but obviously not before some setting seed. The bed now has Black Tuscany and other brasicas; I’m happy to leave the Cosmos here until it is killed by cold weather as the Black Tuscany are already good strong plants.

  3. Your cutting garden looks like a September view rather than almost November. Interesting observation about root disturbance Christina, I’ve pulled our Cosmos out now, they objected to the earlier rain but foolishly forgot to save any seed. I mostly sow Cosmos directly into our raised beds but if its a really cold Spring will start off in modules but thats more for my impatience and a sense of getting on with it. I’ve found they will transplant when very small but left any time and they really do object. Your Rudbeckias may need more moisture, the perennials and the less hardy Rudbeckias all do best here in moist soil. Your vase is lovely too, I really like the Thai Basil stems against the white as it gives a lovely richness.

    • Being observant is such an important part of gardening and blogging regularly also helps with those observations. As I mentioned I don’t have great success with direct sowing but will try with more plants next year as well as using modules more.

  4. L’aiuola con i cavoli ed i fiori è molto bella!!! ed anche la composizione, i rami di olivo con il bianco sono un abbinamento perfertto! vuoi dei piccoli crisantemi rosa antico! Intendo delle talee…

  5. Glad you are home safely and good to have you back Christina! That is indeed an interesting thought on the Cosmos. I also sow them in small pots and wait until they are large enough to survive a bit of slug or snail damage before planting out. And mine were not terribly good this year, except for the deep pink ones (have forgotten their name) which only started flowering in September! I love the vase – olive and basil foliage make the white flowers stand out so well – beautifully arranged!

    • It is lovely to be home, although I’ve been frenetically busy since I landed! I know several other bloggers had problems with their Cosmos this year so I hope I might have worked out ‘why’.

  6. That is such an interesting observation, Christina, and certainly worth trying the sowing directly into modules trick – although as Julie says if they are pricked out when small you wouldn’t think it would make any difference. I certainly don’t want to do any direct sowing, although perhaps I should consider that too. I guess much it must be to do with the conditions the self seeded ones grow in, just germinating as and when they are ready – certainly the self seeded nasturtiums here have been smothered in blooms, albeit late in the season, whereas the ones I sowed flowered poorly and succumbed early on to heat and dryness. Your white chrysanths are very pretty and make me realise that it is the ones that have dense blooms that I am not keen on. The olive leaves are just the right shade of green to set them off. Thanks for hosting a cutting bed review – I may join in although I haven’t much to show or say this month apart from a greenhouse becoming full of autumn sown seedlings!

  7. Another pretty arrangement, Christina. Chrysanthemums don’t do well in the garden here so I’ve given up growing them but I appreciate the blooms. I do better with direct seeding than planting in seed trays (provided that the raccoons or skunks don’t dig up the area, which is becoming more and more of a problem). Although I pulled some of the Zinnia plants that fried during recent heatwaves, those that remain are producing more flowers now than they did this summer.

    • The Zinnias are a complete revelation to me, having never grown them before I am thrilled with their performance, they flowered throughout our very hot summer with regular irrigation.

  8. Interesting about the Cosmos. I’m not sure that Cosmos do self-seed here in Chicago, though it could be I am just digging them up unintentionally. I’ll try to be more careful with my spade in the cutting/herb bed next year.

  9. I’ve grown Cosmos in seed trays and self sown this year. I find that they cope very well with the root disturbance – being dug up out of trays but they do need water in my garden. The more water they get the better they grow. Amelia

      • Water is the chief factor I see in my garden. Even the ones that were sown late in a border and watered sporadically germinated normally but ones sown in a dry place remained dormant and have only recently germinated and flowered. I prefer having some in trays to use as fillers for later in the season.

  10. Oh now that’s a most interesting theory about cosmos Christina and it will be interesting to see how it tests out next year. I start my cosmos off in the greenhouse and then transfer them to the allotment to plant out after the last frosts. I have vague recollections that I started them off one year in coir pellets after reading an article by Sara Raven recommending this. Trouble is that I can’t remember whether they fared better that year or not. I have grown cosmos for several years at the allotment but they have never self seeded 😦 I’m now adding a white crysanthemum to next year’s wish list after seeing them in your vase.

    • I like white flowers in a vase full stop! so I’m aiming for more whites for next year, I think they are wonderful alone but will also mix with virtually any other colour.

  11. Looks great! You really make a good case for zinnias when you mention the four months of bloom part… very impressive and it really does put the chrysanthemum plants to shame. But I do enjoy the seasonal feeling the mums give.
    If you have any spare rudbeckia blooms which you can let go to seed I would give them a try this fall alongside the California poppies. I rarely plant rudbeckia on purpose, most are self seeded and seem to grow stronger and better for it. I suspect they’ll fade away in the summer just like the poppies, but when they bloom en mass 🙂

  12. I grew Cosmos for the first time this year, a few seeds to a module I think and just potted them on when they were small. Didn’t seem to be a problem. Like for others though, they took ages to flower (not until October) but I just assumed that was to do with conditions here! Good to read your and other peoples’ ideas on successful growing. Have you ever considered using biodegradable modules? That way you can plant them individually and you don’t have to worry about disturbing their roots when transplanting. Also I’m not usually a fan of Chrysanthemums but those white ones look especially good in your lovely flower arrangement.

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  14. It’ s still summer in your cutting garden Christina. I’ ve pulled my cosmos and zinnias out now. I’ ve noticed cosmos don’ t recover well if they are checked when growing but I don’ t think direct sowing would work here. I love your arrangement, so pretty.

  15. Christina your flowers for cutting look look bright and sunny on a bleak rainy day, regarding the cosmos mystery do not be too quick to blame yourself, for years I thought I could not grow seeds as I had very little success either in pots or in the open, then reading someones blog she was saying about bad seed from bought seeds, I had not even considered the fact that it could be the purchased seeds at fault rather than my amateur gardener status, so I have become more confident with seed growing, I have noticed that fresh seed I save from plants grown in my garden germinate and grow better than purchased seed, if you want to test this with your cosmos, save some seed from this years plants and sow it your usual way, if they grow weak then yes it is root disturbance, but, if they grow strong like the volunteers then is was the purchased seed that provided weak plants, I hope you do not mind this long comment offering another reason, Frances

    • No I don’t mind at all. This is what I think blogging is about! Sharing ideas and offering suggestions. I will certainly try what you suggest. Saved seed is also free! I like that.

  16. I love your Chrysanthemums. Do you know if these can be grown from seed?
    I have noticed the same as Frances that seed I have saved germinates more quickly and at a higher rate, and that some things are very weak if you transplant rather than direct sow – poppies are the worst.
    I have only grown Cosmos in flats and transplanted and they were pretty wimpy. So far no self sown ones, but I did save seed. I will try making a good seed bed and planting the saved seed directly and see how it goes.

    • I’m sorry I have no idea if Chrysanthemums can be grown from seed; I think many are produced by cuttings for the nursery trade and I grew mine from cuttings taken from bought plants last autumn; everywhere sells them very cheaply after the day of the dead (yesterday) as Italians only use them to take to the cemetery and never have them inside their homes. Saving seed usually is also good because you have a lot more seed than in a packet so I find it difficult to know if a higher percentage germinate or whether I just sowed more!

      • That’s very true about the seed, and it depends how fresh it is. Interesting that Italians don’t have Chrysanthemums inside. Is it just these particular plants or flowers in general?

        • Chrysanthemums are considered cemetery flowers so are NEVER seen inside an Italian home; they aren’t into fresh flowers all that much either except as hostess gifts, they seem to prefer silk flowers or even plastic over real one – very sad!

  17. I planted some small cosmos plants once, and I have never had to plant them again. They are prolific self-seeders, even though my “wildflower” garden is gone now, replaced with easier-care flowering shrubs. They continue to pop up in an adjacent area in unimproved soil, filled with weeds. I think they would do well in a meadow garden.

    • This is probably proof that Cosmos, and many other plants, will perform best when conditions are just right for them and all our interfering allows them to grow but not necessarily thrive.

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  19. Your cut flower beds look very impressive. As for the cosmos, I’ve had the same experience this year. I didn’t sow any but had plenty of self-sown ones which developed so much better and stronger. I think you’re right so I shall let them choose their spots in future which mostly happen to be perfect by the way!

  20. I spent yesterday pulling out brown cosmos and zinnias Christina, so it is lovely to see that they are still going strong in your garden. It will be interesting to see how your cosmos experiments go. I had great success with all my varieties of cosmos this year, but I do sow them quite late (in May) and try to plant them out whilst they are small – the seedlings go leggy very quickly. I think with your warmer climate direct sowing should work very well – here we would have to be so late sowing them to avoid frost damage that they may not flower until late summer. I agree that chrysanthemums do not have anywhere near the flowering power of the summer zinnias etc, but protected in a greenhouse they will give you flowers when everything else has succumbed to the frost – I have had flowers well into December some years. On that basis I do like to include them in my cutting garden plans. Your longer flowering season may not make them as worthwhile in your garden however.

    I will be very interested to see what you have flowering in November – my cutting garden is looking very lack lustre already. Thank you for hosting this month and keeping our enthusiasm going for our cutting gardens – I am amazed to find myself back at the beginning planning for another year of flowers already! I will be posting my November review this month – but will not have much to show.

    • If I were organised enough to move the Chrysanthemums into the greenhouse I might lengthen their season; maybe I should try doing what Sarah Raven recommends and plant them in a bottomless pot, is that what you do? The Zinnias are still full of flower today and their were enough for another vase. Interestingly they seem to last longer in the vase now it is a bit cooler; the ones I picked for last Monday are still looking very fresh and the Bright green Chrysanthemums I put with them have opened more now and make a perfect contrast.

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