One of the most exciting things about having more space to garden is the prospect of more picking opportunities. I designed the space with four raised beds for a crop-rotation-system vegetable plot but very soon realised there was no way I was ever going to be organised enough to stay on top of things on that score, and that flowers were just as nourishing to me as vegetables, so I set aside two of the raised beds for my Picking Patch.
One of these I planted up, roundabout style, with bedding seedlings from the garden centre - Dianthus barbatus, Cosmos sonata and some snap-dragons... It really did make me laugh when I'd finished planting it up...it looked exactly like the rows of polyanthus that get laid out in lines every year in my local park. But you know, it's okay, because the flowers are blooming, and the other day, I cut a few and put them in a pretty jug, and I'm beyond thrilled because there's going to be so much more of it, for ages and ages. It doesn't look like much right now, but when I've filled in the gaps with more (home-raised) seedlings I think it'll be gorgeous in its own right. If you're salivating over the jug, by the way, (lovely isn't it?) then you can get them (and lots of other glorious ceramics) from Christina Gascoigne, here...she also made the teacup below that's playing host to my sweet rocket.
The other raised bed I sowed with hardy annuals - Cornflower, nigella, ammi majus and stock. I'm carefully, murderously, thinning these out (with the help of some kindly slugs) and hope that this will look utterly spectacular very soon (if the whole lot doesn't get nuked by creatures).
These picking patches are just there to fill out what I'll be pilfering from the rest of the garden. I find it impossible to leave well alone, and have been filling vases with anything that's around....so:
I picked this, minus the dicentra for the Babety's birthday two weeks ago....it's still lovely even though it's going to seed, but then, as Miss Pickering states so wisely, longevity is highly overrated....here's some luscious detail...
If you're wondering about the gorgeous little jug, it was a present from Annabel Ridley, who does brilliant glass engraving...you can find her stuff here.
Here's some of that glorious Epimedium I was going on about before. (Epimedium x youngianum 'Niveum') ... I love the way the flowers dance on their boing-y stems whenever I breathe on them. I have this by my bed, and often take it to the bath with me.
Here it is in macro-lense magic:
Then of course there's the Catmint - Nepeta is its latin name and called Catmint because cats adore it. I have a troupe of neighbourhood felines who hang in my garden all day to be near to it. I'm not overly keen on them, just love the Nepeta, so I'm willing to put up with them and throw their poo away...and honestly, they were hanging out here before I planted the stuff. I have two types of Nepeta, N x faassenii 'Six Hills Giant' which edges my bee border, and a smaller kind, N. mussinii which gets rather squished by the cats lying on it. Both are gorgeous, especially if you really look at the flowers, which resemble (to me) the faces of fat sopranos belting out Wagner:
Well, okay then, but it looks delectable in a vase with a little sprig of Choisya 'Aztec Pearl' (Mexican Orange Blossom)
But that's not all...I've discovered Hesperis (Sweet Rocket) in a major way after I bought a whole lot of perennials on offer at the garden centre. The flowers are the most wonderful purple and they smell yum. Here are a couple of sprigs in a teacup - but of course, they can be eaten, along with the leaves, in salads.
I grow heaps of herbs, and they need cutting to keep them coming. My herb patch is NOT just outside my back door like it's supposed to be, but a little way down the garden (too far if you're in spiky heels and it's pelting with rain), so I pick a big bunch of everything and have it in the middle of the table, and harvest from that....here's some parsley in a beautiful jug.