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A May bouquet

In a slight twist to our monthly series on bouquets made from the best of British seasonal ingredients, Emma Monahan of Emma Jayne’s Garden looks not to her farm, but to an average domestic garden, and the perhaps under-appreciated flowers you might find there at this time of year which are suitable for cutting.

I’ve been thinking about what to write for this post for a couple of weeks, and due to the cold spring we’ve had I now find myself in a bit of a May ‘gap’ – which means I currently don’t have the number of flowers that I was hoping for…

So, while at my mum’s house for the king’s coronation, I had a walk around her garden and decided to base this blog on what is available in the average back garden.

Many plants commonly found in gardens are suitable for cutting – for example, in this picture of a border in Emma’s mother’s garden, chive flowers and red spur valerian.

My mum does not grow her flowers for cutting, but she does like the garden to have a “cottage garden” feel, so a lot of her flowers lend themselves to being good cut flowers. She likes to have flowers that are good at looking after themselves, so perennials are a must, and she is also happy to let pretty weeds and wildflowers grow for the wildlife.

A quick walk around and I realised that she had lots of flowers I could use.

The airy flowers and delicate ferny foliage of sweet cicely.

First up was the forget-me-nots, something I love using in my floristry; then some lovely, frothy sweet cicely, and a huge Choisya with its dainty white flowers. Moving on to the back of the garden near the compost heap where pink campion and nettles are left to grow for the butterflies, I left the nettles! But between the nettles I found a lovely little group of bluebells.

Going across to the shady border we found plenty of hellebores with big fat seed heads, which makes them perfect for cutting, as at this stage they will not wilt and need no special conditioning.

When hellebore flowers are at this stage, with swollen seed pods, they are ready for cutting.

We needed a little extra, so we headed to the front garden where we found a bounty of treasures – the main two being the very large clump of chive flowers and the traditional Westcountry weed red spur valerian.

As we sat on the patio with our cream teas, I spotted a clump of hardy geranium which is also something I also love to use in my floristry, so that had a space in the bucket too.

So, this is the finished bouquet which I think looks stunning especially as it was all picked from my mum’s garden.

So why not get out into your garden and see what you can make!

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