Review: `The Cut Flower Source Book’

Sandy Felton reviews this new book and discovers the pleasures and techniques of growing for the cutting garden.

Growing your own flowers for cutting brings the pleasure of the season indoors and cuts out the air miles associated with many shop-bought flowers. In ‘The Cut Flower Sourcebook – Exceptional perennials and woody plants for cutting’ Rachel Siegfried identifies the best perennials and woody plants to grow for cutting.

Rachel is owner of the celebrated Green & Gorgeous flower farm and in this new book she shares her selection of 128 rigorously trialled plants that, together with her garden-led philosophy, can bring such exceptional results.

The author points out that her aim was to grow everything she needed to create border-to-vase arrangements guided by the seasons and the growth habit of the plant: “I wanted to grow a palette of plants with intoxicating scent that would make grown women weep and leave an indelible memory of their fleeting beauty,” she says in the Introduction.

This is a substantial book with four main sections: Garden-led philosophy; From Garden to Vase; Getting Started and Plant Directory. The Directory has an extensive range of bulbs, perennials and climbers as well as grasses and trees/shrubs.

One of my greatest pleasures is walking around the garden to select flowers for the house and then enjoying them, the colours and scents, for the days to come. No matter how small our garden, many of us grow flowers specifically for cutting – my roses come to mind right away but also cosmos, dahlia, salvia and geranium. In her book, Rachel introduces us to a wide canvass of plants, in addition to the favourites we know so well. The ferny foliage of Thalictrum for example, perfect for arrangements and the robust bushy perennial Goat’s rue (Galega officinalis).

I was also pleased with the range of grasses Rachel introduces in the book as these are often valuable in arrangements and sometimes much overlooked.

The plant suggestions are arranged alphabetically in their relevant sections making them easy to find. In fact, the whole book is easy to navigate and beautifully illustrated by Eva Nemeth, who captures the seasonal diversity and natural ease that are the hallmark of this thoroughly contemporary approach to cut flowers.

With the range of seasons’ we experience in this country (UK) it is ideal to know which perennials and shrubs Rachel (pictured right) has discovered through her own particular challenges growing for the flower market. As she says in the introduction: “These stalwarts have also played a central role in developing my natural floral style as I moved from garden designer to flower farmer and florist.”

Rachel has worked in horticulture for 25 years and so her experience is more than valuable. At her flower farm, she and her partner Ashley Pearson, grow hundreds of varieties, carefully selected for their cut-flower credentials.

You can follow Rachel on Instagram : @gandgorgeousflowers

‘The Cut Flower Sourcebook’ – Exceptional perennials and woody plants for cutting – by Rachel Siegfried with photographs by Eva Nemeth, is available in hardback at £35 from Filbert Press –

A review copy of this book was supplied by the Publisher.

Credits: All images strictly © Rachel Siegfried/Filbert Press