Growing a garden to beautify your home

Cut flowers add interest, beauty and sometimes natural fragrance to our rooms, and if you've been given a bunch of Valentine's Day roses (or 'oops, I forgot to get them yesterday' roses) you can enjoy all those things. If you want to get the most out of your bouquet you will need to take care of it.

As soon as you get the flowers, take off the wrapping and rubber bands holding them together. Strip off any leaves from the lower parts of the stems, then cut two or three centimetres off at an angle and put them straight into water. Tap water is fine - the low level of chlorine will help keep the water fresh.

Always keep cut flowers in a cool room and away from sunlight. Drain off the water every day and replace immediately with fresh. Every few days, trim a bit off the base of the stems to expose new vascular tissue. If you do all this the roses should keep in good condition for about 10 days - which is one of the reasons why they are such a popular flower.

It's expensive to have lots of flowers in the house if you have to buy them all, so try to grow your own. If you designate one part of the garden for cutting and plant it exclusively or almost exclusively with cutting flowers, you will be able to cut fresh blooms for the house while still having plenty of colour outside.

Doubtless you have your own favourites, but consider plants of the daisy family (including coreopsis, cosmos, gerberas, zinnias and chrysanthemums), lilies, cleomes, kangaroo paws, sunflowers, pentas, sweet peas, hydrangeas… and roses, of course.

Cut all flowers first thing in the morning, choosing those which are just beginning to open. Always keep them cool, and put them straight into water.

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