About my garden

Monday, 3 December 2018

Going Green In a vase on Monday and Floral update - Part two


I'd planned to make a foliage vase today but as I was cutting I added in these Anastasia Green Chrysanthemums. I'm not really sure about them mixed with other flowers. They are quite bright but they do look good here with the greenery. 
A couple of types of Euphorbia, some Penstemon foliage - which is good in a vase and is gong to be cut back in spring anyway, and Yellow Choisya.



I'm making a couple of bouquets on Saturday so I might try these green ones with the purples. I'll let you know how they look. 

Last week I started to tell you about my floral journey this year. You can read about it here. Now for the second part.

Part two - Flowering

Gradually things started to flower and I had to start marketing. 
I had to embrace Social Media, create my website and start Instagram and Facebook accounts. I'd never wanted to be on social media before so it was all new. Everything had to be photographed to build up a portfolio. It's also a wonderful record. 


Thursday bunches - a kitchen full of flowers in October

Sales throughout the summer have been variable. Some weeks I didn't sell anything and felt very down and then there is a real thrill when I do sell and people appreciate the beauty of my flowers. I've sold to self employed florists, some bouquets and arrangements, some gate sales and towards the end of the summer I started selling bunches through a local village shop. Things started to pick up towards the end of summer which was frustrating as, of course, there are fewer flowers. 


I was lucky to already have this poly tunnel and here it is filled with Zinnias and Cosmos still with room for tomatoes behind.
Many flowers came out of my small plot. I don't think I really knew what to expect but I certainly cut bucket after bucket.

A birthday bouquet
I am working on my marketing strategy for next year. I dived into this year without much planning but have sold enough to know that there is a market for local, seasonal British grown flowers. I just need to get the word out. 
Local florists are interested in what I am doing. Some will need persuading to convert to buying but some are already very enthusiastic and hopefully telling their friends. 



I'm expanding my growing area and already have hardy annuals growing for next year. This time I'm laying down vast quantities of cardboard and covering it with whatever comes to hand. Grass clippings, straw, manure. It's going to be 3 or 4 times the size of the plot I made this year. I gave some willow plants to someone local and she is now supplying me with manure from her horses. It's karma. 

I've just ordered a huge quantity of seeds as there were Black Friday sales on last weekend! Bulbs and biennials are already planted along with anemone and ranunculus in the hope of having a few early flowers. 
Next is a planting plan and an assessment of the flowers I'm growing. The challenge is to produce a good mix of flowers and have a succession throughout the season. Some things can be sown two, three or even four times and I think I'll need to be ruthless about pulling things up and replanting when they have done their bit. 

During April I did a two week Career Change course at Tallulah Rose Flower School in Bath. I had a wonderful time surrounded by flowers and learnt so much. They have a very relaxed, informal way of teaching to encourage everyone's individual style rather than the more formal 'we all put this red rose here' approach. This suited me and I think my own style is developing.  I've continued to learn all year and am planning much more reading and studying during the winter when, hopefully, I'll have spare time. My brain has enjoyed the challenge, I was definitely stagnating. 
There is plenty of help and information online amongst the community of small growers who are also nothing but encouraging. 

It's been an exhilarating, exhausting, exasperating and exciting year and it's hard to believe that this time last year I had no idea I'd be travelling down this route. 

Christina has asked about the flowers I've grown. That would have been an obvious thing to include but as this post is already so long, I'll expand to part three next week and include an idea of what I've grown this year and what worked. 
Again, thank you for reading. 

21 comments:

  1. Oh my! I have just read you post and the previous one about starting your own flower farming business. That is quite an ambitious project! But, your blooms are spectacular, and your bouquets even moreso. I am convinced you will be very successful! Wishing you the best of luck!

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    1. That's very kind, I'm glad you like them.

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  2. Your green vase looks wonderful, Alison, and almost tempts me to try these non-hardy chrysanths again... ;) What an exciting year you have had and thank you so much for filling us in on how it has all gone. It really has been a learning curve but it seems that at least the growing part has gone well and presumably you have been able to keep on top of that - getting your name known and links forged was always going to be the tough part, but it seems as if you have made a good start. Have you had to make much of a financial stake in the business? Look forward to part 3!

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    1. Thank you. Yes very exciting. The trouble with marketing is that you have to be continuously on it. No I haven't invested much money in it. Seeds plants and wrapping initially. Not really many more seeds than usual! You'll understand. I don't need to rent any land and I haven't put in irrigation.

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  3. Wow! What a year your 'kitchen full of flowers' looks magnificent.
    Wishing you all the very best for next year.
    Looking forward to seeing what colours you put with the green chrysanths.

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    1. Thank you. Most of my others are red and purple!

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  4. I am glad you have found a market for your gorgeous flowers....and your arrangements have been breath taking all summer. Love those green mums. Looking forward to your 'growing' business. Couldn't resist the pun.

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    1. Yes it's slow but steady. I'm really looking forward to next year too.

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  5. I love green flowers but unfortunately neither green Dianthus nor green Chrysanthemums want to grow here. The only green flower I've had any success with thus far was a pale green Eustoma (Lisianthus) and it isn't as tough as other cultivars in that genus. As to your growing business (pun intended), I think you're doing splendidly! You're still in the learning phase. Marketing isn't easy and no one can sell you a blueprint to fit your circumstance - what you're learning now will yield benefits in subsequent seasons.

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    1. That's right. I thought the flowers would be hard but now I know I can do that. There are many similar small growers so I am learning from them.

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  6. How exciting that your career change is exciting and satisfying. Your bouquets are all gorgeous. There's noting as wonderful as fresh, locally grown flowers!

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  7. I'm hoping that's the message I can get out to people!

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  8. Alison, I love the greens in your vase today and imagine the purple will be fantastic. Your bouquets are so impressive, beautiful, beautiful. The business aspect is, I imagine, a very different beast than dealing with the floral aspects. Wishing you much success.

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    1. Thank you. That means a lot. I need to get them in front of people then they sell themselves. I think it's a constant banging away and it will mean starting again in spring when flowering begins.

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  9. 'Anastasia' is such a fabulous colour Alison. I grew the small green 'Froggy' on my limited excursion into growing chrysanths and that was most attractive too. If you haven't already done so you should be giving yourself a big pat on the back for what you have learned and achieved this year! You mentioned Facebook and Instagram and am just wondering whether you use Twitter as well?

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    1. Yes, I am pleased that I made a good start and pleased that I have ideas about how to proceed! And that I want to! I am nominally on Twitter but am not enthusiastic about it. I need to spend a bit more time on Facebook and Twitter in the spring, add friends etc. It all takes time when I'd rather be doing something else. Do you use Twitter and how do you find it?

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  10. I think you have summed it up well - exciting but also exhausting with all the hard work that must have been involved. The business part would probably be most daunting to me, so well done for getting off to such a good start and good luck for next year! I like the darker foliage best next to the green chrysanthemum, which is a flower I am never quite sure about either, and not just the green ones! They do flower for ages though which is an advantage I suppose. ;-)

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    1. Yes I like the green and the dark foliage. Anastasia seems brighter than she did last year but she probably isn't! I do love the larger purple ones and especially Avignon pink shown last week. Now I want a white one...

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  11. I love the combination of the bright and dark greens. My green Chrysanthemum hasn't bulked up as well as the others I have; do you have any ideas why? Look forward to next week's instalment.

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    1. Thank you. I am no expert. I am learning by error, mainly. I think they respond well to pinching out but also think that some plants are more vigorous.

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