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Cook, gardener, businesswomen,
TV personality, broadcaster, teacher, author, entrepreneur = Sarah Raven.  Last night, Ms. Raven stood in front of a packed house and spoke non-stop with passion, for over an hour.  Her reputation as a powerhouse was  confirmed. Raven’s talk was billed as “about how to prepare, plant, maintain and harvest buckets of flowers from your garden – from March to November – with her best sowing and growing techniques.”  She delivered.

Cosmos Purity

When you are in the business of growing flowers, figuring out how many flowers one can harvest per square meter is pretty important.  One bucket of peonies yields one bucket per one square meter.  Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Purity’ yields 52 buckets per square meter.  What would you grow?  Raven’s flower garden is organized by 4 x 12 ft. beds.  Her cutting garden is 150 ft. x 170 ft., which yields 50 buckets of cut flowers every other weekend.

Tulip ‘Sarah Raven’

Raven trials many varieties to find: the ones with the greatest scent; longest “shelf life” in a vase and ones that keep on coming.  She grows130 varieties of tulips,180 varieties of sweet peas and 62 varieties of dahlias. She described going to Holland every year and walking the fields looking for new varieties of tulips.  In the “dust bin” of the tulip fields, she rescued and named, Tulip ‘Sarah Raven.” 

Dahlia ‘Dark Butterly’

Green mustard with Tulipa ‘Compassion’

Beyond focusing on beautiful varieties of flowers to grow and the advantages of growing those varieties, Raven had a few  tips.  The two photographs above show mustard greens inter-planted with tulips.  This is a new technique that Raven is experimenting with.  She also mentioned that green tulips have three times the gardening life of other tulips. They last 3-4 weeks in a vase.
Another tip:  white distilled vinegar in a vase makes your flowers last a lot longer.
Why does she love a dahlia?  “They lift my heart.”

Heart-marked seeds of Cardiospermum halicacabum, common name ‘Love in a Puff’

‘Love in a Puff’ long-lived vine.  Light green seed capsules followed by white flowers.  Grown in the early 1800, tender perennial.

Love in a puff flowering

Another tip: searing the stems of cut flowers  for approximately 10 seconds  in boiling water.  The amount of time to dip the stems depends on the diameter of the stem itself.

Zinnia ‘Queen Red Lime’

Wildflower meadow in Crete

Raven attributed her love of flowers to trips she took with her father, a botanist, as a child to countries around Mediterranean.  One can never underestimate the importance of exposure to nature during our childhoods.

Sarah Raven
The Cutting Garden
Wave Hill Horticulture Lectures
February 21, 2018





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