A couple of weeks ago BBC Gardeners’ Question Time was being recorded in Bradford on Avon. What a perfect opportunity to get together with a few mates (‘virtual’ and otherwise) and get expert answers to a few horticultural puzzles? Michelle Chapman, Sara Willman and I met for a coffee beforehand and busily composed our questions in the space provided on tickets which were modelled on those oversized cheques presented to charities by people who’ve spent whole days sitting outside supermarkets in a bath of baked beans. Michelle’s concerned inspirational planting for that knotty problem of a shady narrow front border surrounded by tarmac, public footpaths and municipal planting. (We’ve all wrestled with that at some point.) I wanted to know how to deter the local badger population from running amok in the school garden and Sara, who has her finger on the pulse of #britishflowers asked about ideas for extending the British cut flower season especially in a school cutting patch. (No. She doesn’t have a polytunnel but best not to mention that, as it’s a bit of a sore point.)
The Wiltshire Music Centre was packed with local gardeners most of whom were twice as old as me. The fact that it was 5.30pm on a school night and most of my contemporaries were at home deciding what to feed their children for supper goes some way to explain this. I spotted a few younger gardeners I knew. Presumably they too had bribed their husbands with a home made cottage pie to come home early and take over. A dozen or so questions were chosen-among them both Michelle’s and Sara’s. (Clearly badgers in the garden was a problem too far.)
The panel of Christine Walkden, Matthew Wilson and Matt Biggs were entertaining, knowledgeable and generous in their advice on matters ranging from growing in small spaces on the top of canal boats, problem brussel sprouts, mistletoe and competition parsnips. You can lsten to the recording here.
Sara’s question (about 20 minutes in) about extending the British cut flower season especially in school gardens received a fuller answer than the one broadcast. Successional sowing and using seasonal foliage and grasses was also mentioned but there may be more to say. This is where you come in. What would you grow in a cut flower patch especially with children – so no foxgloves or other potentially harmful plants? We’re looking for ideas for flowers, foliage and grasses to keep our budding flower farmers busy all year round.
Post your answer in the comments section below or tweet me (@countrygate) and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a prize. I haven’t decided what it is yet but it’s likely to be something to grow and will be drawn out of my gardening hat by one of the apprentices in a couple of weeks.
Go on. All the kudos of beating the experts and a prize into the bargain? How can you resist?