When I first started gardening a decade ago, I grew more edibles than ornamentals (ie flowers) but in recent years my passion for growing veggies gave way to a newfound love and appreciation for flowers. I discovered that you can grow certain varieties that are commonly used in the cut flower industry and are suitable for arrangements as they have, among other qualities, long stems and often last well in a vase. Just before I started growing and selling cut flowers, I became very fascinated by mass flower displays similar to what you would see in gardens and parks managed by the council. I was very determined to recreate what I had seen in public green spaces in our own private garden at home.
As a side note, it's interesting because I have actually swung back the other way and will be focusing on growing veggies this summer. I won’t be creating any of these displays, which is a shame. That is why it’s really nice to have photos so I can reminisce on past seasons and the joy gardening has brought me over the years. We had a terrible summer last season. There were even floods and cyclones in some parts of the country, including Auckland, where I live. As a consequence, the price of fresh produce has sky rocketed. When pumpkins are in season (normally at the start of autumn for us), they are usually $2 or $3 each. This year they were $14 each at Countdown (one of the large supermarket chains in NZ) and the price hasn’t fallen much during the year. Kumara (sweet potato) has been around $14 kg the whole year as well. Now that produce prices have reached such high levels, I can’t see them dropping much even if the weather improves because growers need to recoup their losses. Also, bear in mind that there has never been a lot of money in commercial growing in NZ, for both veggies and flowers. Given that growers were selling their goods for a song for a very long time, I don't blame them for really resenting it and revolting by charging much more from now on. That’s why I’m very intent on creating a large veggie garden again so we can be self-sufficient. There are only so many hours in a day and I won’t be able to create these kinds of flower displays as well as raise veggie seedlings en masse and tend to the plants once they are outside. That’s not to say that I’ll never try to create these kinds of gardens again in the future. For now though, I really want to focus on homesteading so we can be self-sufficient (or as close to it as possible) again. Also, if I don’t grow veggies for a long time I may even forget how to do it!
I have planted the following flowers en masse in our garden beds two years ago. I propagated all of these flowers from seed except for the Iceland poppies, as I found lots of punnets of them heavily discounted at the garden centre so it wasn’t worth the expense and effort of raising seedlings. I have included photos of each display.
Asters – King Sized in the following colours: Appleblossom, Apricot, White, Rose, Blue and Red
Ornamental Kale - Crane White, Pink and Bicolour
Iceland poppies – Springsong Mixed
Sunflowers – Vincent’s Choice
Zinnias – Benary’s Giant and Dahlia Flowered Gold Medal Mix
Here are some tips which I hope you find helpful if you wish to do the same thing.