About my garden

Monday, 14 January 2019

A proper posy In a Vase on Monday.

It's Hellebore and Snowdrop time. Hooray. These little treasures are just starting and help us through the winter days. 
I collected a few Hellebores and then walked around to see what I could find to go with them. The results were surprising. It's another odd ball collection of things. 

I managed to make a proper little posy. 
I started with some Euphorbia and Penstemon foliage and then added a couple of Periwinkle stems. Two pink Escallonia. Should they be flowering now?
Two little pink Dianthus and, most strange of all, some Virginia Stocks. I planted some of these two summers ago and they keep coming back. 

It's very cheerful and lovely to have the colour. 

Visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to find out what else people have found to put In a Vase on Monday. 

Speaking of Cathy, here are two little 'Magnet' snowdrops kindly sent from Cathy to me via Noelle. These were the first ones out and very welcome. Thank you, Cathy. 

Monday, 7 January 2019

Twiglets In a Vase on Monday

I miss the flowers but anything blooming in my garden just now is looking sad and sorry for itself. 
Christmas is put away for another year so I hung up this vase again and added a few Alder twigs. The have good shapes and make shadows on the wall. I had some ivy around the door frame for Christmas. 

I think I've shown this vase before. It doesn't hold much water so is better suited to dry material. 

I made an exciting discovery during the week. I've been out every day, in spite of the cold, clearing and tidying. My aim is to go right round the garden but we'll see how far I get before the weather gets horrible or I'm distracted by other things. 
I was raking up leaves under a beech tree. Now I never usually get round to doing this under this tree. Time is a luxury I have this year. There is a clump of grass under the tree which I don't really like and always mean to remove. Making good progress with the leaves I found that a huge pile had collected against the grass so I started to pull them out only to discover a hedgehog hiding in there. I apologised and quickly piled the leaves back on, added some more and some beech twigs on top for good measure. I hope he/she/they weren't disturbed. I looked again the next day and the heap is still there so hopefully they are tucked up inside and hardly noticed my clumsiness. 
I'll probably never know but I will be leaving that grass now. I have seen hedgehogs around on summer evenings but have never found a nest. Does anyone know if they breed in the same place as hibernating?

Just to cheer us all up in the gloomy days. I'm sowing some sweet peas seeds and trying to keep them away from the mice!

Pop over to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden to see what everyone has found to go In a Vase on Monday. 

Monday, 31 December 2018

An oddball collection In a Vase on Monday

I know I'm not alone in having roses flowering in December. I saw this one so I cut it and collected a few things to go with it. I don't think you'd expect to see these things together. 
The peachy rose is nameless but the other is 'Macmillan Nurse' about to drop it's petals, I think. 
Also in the vase are Abelia, Artemisia 'Powis Castle', Lonicera fragrantissima, now large enough for me to cut without remorse, a few Perovskia twigs and strangely some scaboius flowers. I don't know if they will open but I hope so. The last thing is a Pieris flower which tones beautifully with the rose. I found some Dianthus flowering - too pink for here - but why are they flowering?
It has been mild for a few weeks but I think getting colder in the new year. 

Sorry about the blurry picture. 

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year. 
It's exciting to be starting a new gardening year. I'll be cautiously sowing a few seeds - starting with Sweet Peas and Broad Beans but trying not to get too carried away too early. 

Thanks Cathy for inspiring us with your vases on Mondays. x

Monday, 17 December 2018

A wreath on Monday

Not quite a vase but it is Monday so I'm joining in with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for In a vase on Monday. 

I made this wreath as I wanted to practice and wanted a pale one which would show up well on our front door which is dark green. 
The other ones I've made have just been greenery tied onto a frame so I thought I'd try moss here. 

I made a few twiggy frames in Autumn so I have them when I need them. This one is made of Elaeagnus but I have also used Jasmine as well as the traditional willow. It's a shame to use willow if it's going to be completely covered. 

I raked the moss from our 'lawn' so it's from a sustainable source! The bunched it on the frame and wrapped string around. 

The stems are just pushed in with a bit of wire wrapped around to secure. My other wreaths have been 100% compostable but I cheated here. 

Included are Artemesia 'Powis Castle', Pittosporum, Abelia, Vibrunum flowers, Pieris flowers, Apple mint, Rosemary, Dusty Miller which I think is now called Jacobea maritima.
I don't think the Artemesia is going to last, I should have conditioned it better. I might have to remake it. It's all good fun though. 

I like it, I hope you do. 

Monday, 10 December 2018

Recycling my vase on Monday and Floral update - part three.

The green vase I made last week is still looking really good so I added in a few different flowers and left most of the foliage. A couple of things were looking crispy but I think the water got low. Top tip - keep the water topped up!

Regular readers will know of my change of direction this year. The story of my year is here and here.
Obviously it is interesting to people keen on growing cut flowers to know what has grown well and is worth trying. Thanks Christina for pointing that out. 

Unless otherwise stated things were grown outside from a spring sowing. 
One thing I do know is that pinching out really works for many things to get good bushy plants and more flowers. It works for most things which will branch anyway. 

This year many things grew well for me in no particular order:
Cornflowers. I had white and pink. The flowered for months and if you keep cutting they keep flowering and bush out nicely. They last a reasonable time if picked early and fade prettily. 

Sweet Peas. Winter Sunshine inside and mixes outside. 

Cosmos. I had Cupcakes growing inside which were beautiful. Outside I had a general mix which wasn't as good due to the weather. 

Rudbekia. I tried Sahara for the first time. Oh, they were gorgeous. Some plants were inside and did really well, some outside didn't get very tall through lack of water. Still pretty and good enough for small vases. 'Green Eyes' is still flowering, in fact one plant has survived from last year. 

Ammi. This did well from a spring sowing and went on flowering for a long time. 

Daucus carota. This got off to a slow start but is doing well now! Again probably went short of water in the summer. Really pretty and  good with anything. 

Dill. Seeded everywhere from the previous year and went in every bunch during September and October. 

Larkspur. Autumn sowing. 

Nicotiana. I sowed some and some seeded themselves. Flowered for months and were very useful. Green and pink.

Atriplex. Fantastic foliage/filler. Once you have it it seeds forever. 

Amaranthus. The plants I pinched out and watered well produces lovely long tassels. 

Sunflower. 'Vanilla Ice'. I love this and it went on and on. 'Prado Red' also. They have smallish heads which are better for vases and keep coming. They suffered in the drought but then took off when we had rain, like many things. 

Snap dragon. 'Royal Bride' was brilliant and went on until November. 'Madame Butterfly' grew and flowered well but I didn't like some of the colours in the mix. Some were a strange pinky orange. One was white and green which I did used often. 

Zinnia. 'Queen Red Lime'. Gorgeous. I grew some mixed colours inside and they did much better than those planted outside. Too dry again, I expect. 

Scabious. Pinky colour mix and also 'Fata Morgana'. These did well and in fact, I think they are still flowering. Once established they just go on and on. Cut as a bud and they open in the vase. 

Limonium suworowii. I grew these having seen them in other peoples vases. They made good little plants and beautiful long flowers which looked great mixed in with other things. Then they were scorched. :(

Salvia farinacea. A beautiful pop of blue, especially good with pinks. The whites were no where near as good. 

Dahlias. Of course!

Cardiospermum. A beautiful annual vine which produces puffy seed balls. 

Some things failed or were disappointing but I need to leave room for improvement next year. No doubt different things will fail or be brilliant:

Ridolfia. My plants were very feeble and never bulked up. Trying again from an autumn sowing.

Stocks. I can't seem to grow them well. Any tips. Trying again.

Didiscus. These are very pretty and started well but then got very leggy. I'll try and get bushy plants next year. 

Orlaya. I think I had 3 plants which never got over 40cm. They like to self seed apparently or be sown very fresh. I have lots of seedlings now from seed kindly donated from a fellow grower. 

Cosmos. Xanthos and Rubinato. I was really looking forward to these but they were feeble plants barely tall enough to cut. 

I'll stop now before you all drop off. 

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. 

Monday, 26 November 2018

Floral Update Part One and In a Vase on Monday

Good morning, 

This is an arrangement I created for a 101st birthday table centre. It's bigger than it looks here, probably about 60cm long. The brief was that it was to have impact but also not be too tall so people could converse over it. It stars Chrysanthemum 'Avignon Pink', 'Porto Purple' and 'Saratov Lilac' I think but some of the labels have got in a muddle. There is also some Bay, Leylandii and honeysuckle tendrils. I like a bit of whimsy. 
I'm joining in with Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for In a Vase on Monday. 

Cathy asked last week about my first year of flower farming so here is an update. 
I've divided this post into two as it was getting longer and longer and I don't want you to drop off. 

Part one - Growing

A bit of background for those of you who don't know - Early this year I had the chance to make a career change. The choice was to stay in my office job working for a new boss or try something new. I chose to create my own Flower Farm. 
I have a fantastically supportive husband who is right behind the venture so we started in March by hiring a turf cutter. We only had it for a day and it was hard going even though it was petrol driven. 

This is what my main plot looked like. 
This makes it look huge.I divided this plot into two with a path up the middle. 
Meanwhile I was raising seedlings inside. To be honest it wasn't very different from a normal year. I know many of you are the same and we have trays and trays of little plants waiting in the wings. By the time we get to our safe planting date (May here in the UK) our covered areas, windowsills, spare floor spaces and cold frames are full to bursting with plants which need to get into the ground. 

We had snow in March, heavy, twice and then a heatwave in April. The seedlings survived though and then I had to get them planted. 
I'd dug over my plot once but from now on I'll be using the No Dig method. I love planting out on a newly dug plot and in rows,though it does lead to aches the next day. 
Seedlings. I should stand here and take a picture every month!

I had my Winter Sunshine Sweet Peas growing in my poly tunnel. They flowered from April for three months, I think. 'Opal' was the most gorgeous colour and went to a couple of weddings. (I didn't do all the wedding flowers). I'll be growing that again as well as white. I grew other Sweet Peas outside and they were so good I couldn't keep up with the cutting. 
'Opal' and 'Navy'
One long bed viewed from the opposite end. The posts are for horizontal netting which is very effective at supporting stems. 

Summer drought, you can see how brown the grass is. Most of the landscape here does not belong to us, we just enjoy it. The nettles do.

The truth is that the second long bed was never fully dug before the drought and never got planted until late summer. However, along with things growing in the tunnel, the dahlias in my old cutting beds and these, I had plenty flowering. 

That is the first part, thank you for reading to the end. Come back next week for some more flowery pictures.