My oh my! What a difference in temperature and weather conditions to last year! Such a cold April and it’s blowing a hooley as I write this at the end of May! Everything in the garden is way behind compared to May 2020 (which to be fair was way ahead of normal). Nothing like keeping us growers on our toes!
I was sad to pick the last of the tulips this week. Re-siting the bulbs has definitely worked – you’ll remember I blamed the pesky voles for a 0% show last year, but this year the tulips have been much better!
Ranunculus are still going strong and have fared quite well outside: they’re hardier than you’d expect from such dainty flowers. The bulk-buy corms from Italy certainly produced far superior flowers than cheaper varieties.
Anemones on the other hand won’t be making it onto next year’s plant list: they’re far too short when grown outside!
Biennials sown last June are flowering in succession. The Honesty has finished and its seedpods are forming which I’ll use in bouquets while they’re still green then harvest the surplus for dried flower sales and workshops.
Hesperis is looking fabulous right now, whereas Sweet William, Foxgloves and Daucus are still a few weeks off, so some of the hardy annuals are catching up. Cornflowers (which every year I swear I’m never going to grow again because they’re such a pain to cut), Corncockle, Ammi Majus and Nigella are all budding up and I’ve got literally hundreds of plants already in the ground, plus lots more waiting in the wings that I just need time and the weather to plant out!
Everything will be looking tip-top (within reason for a working garden) for my Summer Garden Tours in August and September. The bookable time slots work and there are still a few tickets left.
I’m poised for a summer full of fabulous weddings and wedding flowers. For some weddings I’ll be doing the works - bouquets, buttonholes, corsages, venue and church floral decorations - whereas for others I’ll be doing my halfway house option, with the bouquets made by moi and then I’ll also supply buckets of flowers. It’ll be over to the brides for the rest of the weddings, where I’ll simply be supplying buckets of flowers for their special day.
I’m very proud of my ultra-organised Trello boards which are my giant “to do” lists for each wedding! The weddings this June are scaled back a little, but from July onwards they are all as originally planned, just a year later. I’ve quite a few bookings for 2022 already in the diary and the first 2023 enquiry recently came in!
Monthly subscription flowers
Bouquet deliveries are in full swing, especially as I started much earlier than usual with Mother’s Day back in March. I’ve been able to top up where needed with flowers from other local British flower growers I’ve met through the marvellous Flowers from the Farm network. There’s still time to subscribe to a Monthly Flower Delivery and receive beautiful fragrant bouquets of British blooms to brighten homes each month.
Cut flower growing workshops and courses
My two 2021 Seed to Vase courses are well underway. Both groups of fun and friendly ladies gelled immediately over their common interest. Despite the delayed start we’ve completed 5 out of 6 half-day sessions of seed sowing, transplanting, propagating dahlias, taking cuttings and generally getting our hands dirty. It has been lovely to see their knowledge, interest and confidence grow as fast as the seedlings and cuttings they’ve been nurturing. A Whatsapp group has proved a great way to share successes and be cheered up when things haven’t gone so well - from greenfly infestations to chickens (and other pets) having a munch.
Dates for the 2022 courses will be released soon but for now I’ve started a list of those of you who’ve expressed an interest already! Anyone wanting to join the waiting list can drop me a line.
Some people can’t wait that long, so I’m running one-day cut flower growing workshops in June, August and October. Using a mix of doing and theory, I’ll be explaining key gardening activities relevant to the cut flower growing calendar. This will really start to set up the 2022 flower patch. Plenty of freebies included!
My popular “Garden to Vase” workshops are filling up fast, particularly as numbers are restricted to 5 for the time being. The combination of cutting your own flowers, having a lovely morning out in this beautiful part of the world, and learning how to make a spiral bouquet to wrap and take home in a vase ticks all the boxes.
I’m also excited to announce a “Flowers and Afternoon Tea” collaboration with Barnsley House on 21st September. I’ll be there with buckets of gorgeous country garden flowers to create attractive compote floral arrangements to take home. Tickets are available via Barnsley House.
In November, I’m also holding the popular dried flower wreath making workshops. People have already started to book!
In the same vein, I wasn’t going to mention the C word (and no, I don’t mean Covid) in June, but I better had, because the December dates for my Willow Door Wreath Workshops are bookable now via my website.
For something a little different, I’m also excited to be collaborating on the same day with willow worker Norah Kennedy for two Willow Decorations Workshops. All are being held in Coaley village hall in early December.
I thought if I left it till my next Blog to tell you about these, places might have started being snapped up before then!
I’ll finish with some simple suggestions on how we can all do our bit to garden using more environmentally-friendly and wallet-friendly methods:
- Use peat-free potting compost: peat bogs have a fragile ecosystem and when disturbed, stored carbon is released into the atmosphere contributing to climate change. I use Sylvagrow by Melcourt but other products are available.
- Make your own liquid feeds: a simple sustainable and free way of making your own plant feeds so your plants don’t run out of steam. Try nettle tea, comfrey tea or compost tea. My Instagram or Facebook followers will have ‘recipes’ posted soon.
- Control aphids without pesticides: encourage ladybirds, ladybird larvae, hoverfies, lacewings and birds that will hoover aphids up: I use my fingers to squish the aphids or spray them with a soapy solution 1 tsp of Ecover washing up liquid to 1 litre of water (top tip -put the liquid in after the water). I’ll be doing an Instagram Reel on this over the next few weeks.
- Be resourceful with plant pots: I re-use existing plant pots for as many years as possible; or use biodegradable wood fibre or coir pots which can be planted straight into the ground; or recycle household items such as toilet roll tubes, yoghurt pots, takeaway coffee cups… again, I’ll be showing you how on Instagram.
- Build or resurrect your compost heap: making great homemade compost is so satisfying and it makes all the difference if you follow a few basic rules, eg make sure you to include plenty of brown (carbon) material (torn up cardboard/scrunched up newspaper) along with the green (nitrogen) waste such as weeds and vegetable peelings, and get some air in the mix (by turning regularly). Visit the Eden Project to learn more.
- Go wild: the conservation charity Plantlife has had a “no mow May” initiative. Leaving some areas of our lawns to grow naturally has spectacular benefits for our garden wildlife, which includes providing a vital food source for insects and pollinators. No reason why this can’t be extended for the rest of the summer.
Enjoy a flower-filled summer, and I hope to see you soon!