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Designing a garden with structure and cut flowers

Designing a garden with cut flowers

The Land Gardeners (Henrietta Courtauld and Bridget Elworthy) share their advice on creating a garden with structure and cut flowers

Where to start

Collect together things that you love or that make your heart sing – these could be pictures from a magazine, textiles, crockery or even a piece of music. You can then use these things as a starting point for your design. 


Think about the structure of your garden first – the bones of how it will look in winter, including paths, hedges and trees. Also consider your journey around it, which means imagining how and when you’ll use its different parts, such as areas where you might pick flowers or vegetables, have a cup of tea in the morning, or enjoy a drink in the early evening sun.


Map out any new areas, such as borders you’d like to create, by mowing the grass in that spot. That way, you can live with your ideas before you take the plunge and start digging. And when you get to the plant-buying stage, make sure you plant a group of the same variety together and that you repeat these plants throughout a border to give a sense of unity across the garden.


If you have moved into a new place and inherited someone else’s design, live with the garden first so you can see it though all the seasons. Don’t be afraid to move things around – in many cases, you can lift and move plants in the winter when they’re dormant.

How to plan for cut flowers all year

It’s great to have a dedicated cut flower patch – particularly if you can grow annuals like cosmos and ammi. When you add it to your plan, make sure you position it in a sunny, sheltered spot. And before you get going, find out what your soil is like so you can better know which plants will work there.


We like to cut from all areas of the garden, so you definitely don’t need a dedicated plot to have lovely cut flowers. One essential way to have flowers to cut (and colour in the garden all year) is to always plant bulbs. You can underplant perennials and shrubs with winter bulbs (such as snowdrops), spring bulbs (alliums, scillas, tulips) and autumn bulbs (such as Gladiolus murielae).


Top plant combo 

We love this combination from the herbaceous border as they are all great as cut flowers: rose ‘Sally Holmes’ (which flowers throughout the summer, pictured right), valerian (Centranthus lecoqii), Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and Geranium phaeum ‘Walkure’.

Garden designers and cut-flower growers |


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This article was adapted from issue 7

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