Plant now: Cornflowers

Cornflowers (Centaurea cyanus) are beautiful annuals with tall stems (up to 1m high) and long-lasting flowers that are great for picking. They’ll grow pretty much anywhere in sun, in poor or fertile soil. A true blue beauty (or purple, pink or lilac), plants are quick growing and prolific flowering. They often grow as wildflowers in Europe – in fact, it was here that they got their common name, found growing wild in corn and grain fields.

Sow seeds in trays, or sow them directly in spring when the soil is warm. Seedlings can also be obtained from garden centres.

Orchids in bouquets

cymbidium bouquet
Are your cymbidium orchids in flower yet? Mine are nearly so – just a few more days before they open. They are late this year, though I did move them into a different spot than previous years.

I’ve been working on a weddings magazine these past few weeks, with incredibly gorgeous blooms everywhere. Here’s one of the bouquets and buttonholes, both of which feature cymbidiums.

Cymbidiums are so long lasting they are ideal for bouquets or the vase. Though you can also bring your potted plant indoors once it’s in bloom and use it as a table centrepiece. Once it’s finished flowering, shove it back outdoors.

Read more about growing and caring for cymbidiums


Plant Now: Astrantias


Astrantia major is a clump-forming perennial with pincushion-type flowers in summer. The flowers may be pink, white, or greeny-white, with stems reaching 60cm high. They make excellent cut flowers, lasting for some time in the vase.

Astrantias prefer areas where the nights are cool, so they may not grow so well in warmer spots. You don’t usually find seeds either, because they are difficult to start. Buy plants from your local garden centre or online nurseries and plant in a partially shaded spot. Soil should be reasonably moist (not wet) with plenty of humus. Dig in a good helping of compost before planting.

Flowering will be better in its second year.

Top image from Lucy Says I Do

Plant Now: Dianthus

Dianthus bouquetDianthus-romancedianthus_brighteyes
If you like your dianthus, now’s a good time to plant one. Head to your local garden centre, because there are a couple of new kids on the block.

Pictured above (middle image) is Dianthus ‘Romance’, with its pretty salmon-coloured blooms that are slightly darker in the centre. The double flowers have a gorgeous spicy scent, something akin to the perfume Opium – one of my favourites!

Or you could try Dianthus ‘Bright Eyes’ (bottom image), which has white blooms and a burgundy centre – and an equally delicious scent.

The top image, from Peony White, shows just how gorgeous dianthus are in bouquets.

Read more about growing dianthus here.

Bulbs in bloom

spring blooms

Spring blooms. How lovely. Not much more to say, really. They’re divine.

Image via Tumblr

Plant Now: Hyacinth bean

Hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab) produces bright lavender sweet-pea like flowers from midsummer followed by waxy, burgundy-red pods. The pods are great for picking, lasting some time in the vase.

This plant is an annual vine; grow as you would for sweet peas, in full sun with ample moisture. Seeds are available from Kings Seeds.

In the top image, you can see both the flowers and the pods, in amongst dahlias.

Images via En en jardin

Plant Now: Hellebores

Hellebores are in flower now so it’s a great time to pick out a variety you like. These are hardy perennials, able to subsist through cool, frost-laden winters and harsh environments. The flowers appear between July and October in the southern hemisphere, and if you choose your plants carefully, you can have a whole carnival of colours. I like the deep purples, though the white ones are just as gorgeous. Just look at the close-up image, above.

Some hellebores have plain green leaves, some have blue-tinged ones, some have speckled or blotchy leaves. These make for a handsome planting in the garden too. The deeply divided leaves of Helleborus foetidus look spectacular mass-planted.

Plant your hellebores in partial shade in deep, fertile soil that has had plenty of organic matter dug in. Soil must be free-draining. Do not overwater them. Overly dry hellebores are likely to survive, overwatered ones will not.

Plants are available from garden centres.

Top photo (bouquet) is from Once Wed.



Getting married, or know someone who is? In the wedding business? Then follow me on Facebook.

I’ve started a new Facebook page: Sweet Living Magazine Weddings. I’m putting together a new online weddings magazine (in flipbook magazine style), which will be out late August. Please click through and ‘like’ me. :)

I’ll be adding lots of images regularly, plus offering giveaways. Plus, of course, there’s the magazine, out soon.

Plant Now: Hollyhocks

Hollyhock (Althaea) seedlings can be planted now for a late spring to summer showing. At least, that’s for annuals. Perennial hollyhocks may not flower until the following year. Head to your local garden centre and pick out some potted seedlings. If you wait until summer, when they are fully grown, you’ll be paying a fortune. I guess someone’s got to make a living.

Position your seedlings 45cm apart in full sun in well-drained soil. They need a decent amount of space for air circulation as rust is a common disease among hollyhocks.

Top image via BHG

Bottom image by Connie

Come hear me talk about herbs


Do you want to learn how to make your own herbal face creams and lotions, or perfumes? Do you want to make your own simple herbal remedies for health problems? Do you want recipes for using stevia, the sugar herb (use it in place of sugar)? Want to make your own natural cleaners?

Come listen to me speak! 

Learn how to grow herbs year round for culinarymedicinal and cosmetic purposes. Whether you have a large garden or a tiny potted one, find out how simple it is to grow herbs year round.

All attendants receive a FREE handout with food recipes, recipes for cleaning solutions, DIY perfumes, and herbal creams and lotions.

Click here for more information and to book your space