Before I became a flower farmer, my jam jars and vases at home were filled with pick and plonk. Wonderful mixtures of colours, but just flowers. Now, i'm convinced that the thing that most flower arrangers, florists and garden enthusiasts need more of is fillers.
Mint is my all time favourite, and I grow 9 types at the farm. Almost everyone has a patch of mint in their garden somewhere (even if it's unwanted!) So how do you get it tall and straight and strong, to last in your bouquets?
I have a patch of mint in my polytunnel, and then the rest is grown in raised beds on my carpark in progrow (green waste compost)
Yes, those are just gravel boards made into raised beds, sitting on an aggregate surface, with 15cm of green waste compost in them. Look at the length of the mint stems.
Mint doesn't need many nutrients. It needs some, but not excessive water, but what it does need is cutting regularly.
Luckily as a Flower farmer, there is plenty of need for my tall stemmed mint, so it does get cut with regularity.
The varieties that I grow which help me keep succession throughout the year (from April until November) are
Apple mint. - My all time favourite. - Not only does this grow wonderful strong long stems, large soft leaves, and have amazing scent, but in late July and into August (or September if it's been planted that year), it has fluffy pink flowers.
Plenty of flowering mint in this display.
My next workhorse mint is Moroccan mint. This is a white flowering spire, and the leaves are smaller. But the stems are tough, so don't need conditioning for as long as the Apple mint, and is less susceptible to drooping.
Morrocan mint also produces the most stems per square metre, so is very productive.
Basil mint, is a tall and highly scented variety. Slightly darker leaves, and purple flowers in September mean this is great to take over from the Apple mint when that's all been cut back hard and used.
Then with even darker leaves, and dark coloured stems too, there's Chocolate mint.
Obviously a favourite with Children, this really does give an initial smell of chocolate. Again it comes into it's own later in the season.
I've also got a variegated Pineapple mint, - which although it doesn't grow as tall as the others, makes useful background colour and scent in a lighter colour bouquet.
Last year's prize find though was Lime mint. - This is a tall branching mint, that has a fresh smell, and strong upright stems.
I've also got smaller amounts of Ginger, Lemon and traditional Lamb mint. All good, but with less strong/straight stems, so not quite as good for flower arranging.
Whichever Mint you choose, It will need splitting regularly. I do this by trying to dig out most of it, and then putting fresh compost on top. - You never get it all out, so it starts again from small fresh pieces, - or if you're growing on a smaller scale, - cut your pot of mint in quarters with a knife or pruning saw and give away 3/4 keeping the other quarter and replanting it. (more info here)
Of course Mint doesn't have to be for bouquets in summer, - the Apple mint is particularly good in a Pimms enjoyed in the garden.