Looking down the garden
I had intended to spend most of the day in the garden today, lots of things to do, but it started to drizzle before lunch and from the kitchen window I can see that the rain is still speckling the surface of the pond. An update on my blog being long overdue, writing about the garden is the next best thing to be working in it!
So, how and what is gathering momentum? I believe the coming of Spring is at last; as the hours of daylight continue to stretch out the temperatures have started to rise and head in the right direction for April, and this in turn means that tasks for the garden have increased too.
View from the house
As it had continued so cold at night I brought the seeds I sowed at the beginning of the month into the house to try to encourage them into life. I’m pleased to report that it is working. The Cosmos germinated within three days, the Ammi have followed suit and the sweet peas that were dithering whether or not to fully emerge from the compost are standing tall. I just have to turn them all regularly to keep the stems in an upright direction rather than growing horizontally towards the window. And joy of joys, some of the seeds I sowed in March and placed in my growframe are finally germinating. First to show life were the black cornflower, closely followed by the blue. Now if the calendula would just get a move on I might feel confident that I will have some flowers for sale by the end of June. This is when I want to try on being a flower farmer for size and see if I like it – I can’t for a moment believe I won’t.
We have a little local fete in late June, very small scale but it is a start. This year I have offered my cut flowers for sale – but if things don’t get a move on I will not have anything to offer. I made this offer because on my allotment and to some extent in my garden, I am growing flowers for cutting, partly for the sheer fun of it and how beautiful I imagine the plot will look in high summer, and also because I am presently learning how to create a (small) flower farm and the fete gives me an opportunity to see my flowers go out into the world.
For now I’ll say no more about my flower farmering plans, but I really am excited by them and just need to remain positive and focused on bringing them on – like my flowers.
My under gardener gets stuck in (and blisters!)
At least according to T.S Eliot it is, but from where I’m sitting and looking back, March 2013 is a top contender and that is in the relatively mild South East of England; I pity the poor farmers in the North and in Scotland. Today is April 1 and whilst it is now sunny with blue skies there is a bitterly cold wind blowing, the type described as a ‘lazy wind’ because it blows straight through you!
Being Easter Monday it has meant that at least some of my day has been given over to gardening and so first thing I headed out to the allotment, taking the under gardener with me for a long-promised (by him) digging session. We spent about an hour there before the cold drove us back home but I was able to turn over the square bed (for my flower planting) and I set my helper to work to finish digging a previously untouched, at least by me, bed that I want to put my runner beans in this year. Both beds now need a good weeding, but if the drying wind keeps up, this along with a few more frosts will break down the clods of earth and weeding will be much easier. And of course the birds get the chance to root around for lurking bugs and beasties.
So I’m now crossing my fingers crossed that Eliot’s statement is not proved correct this year and that April proves kinder than March – we gardeners need to get on with the Spring!
Where does the time go? The anniversary of this blog passed unnoticed and here we are in mid-March already. I’ve decided to blame the weather (that and other demands on my weekends) because I’ve barely set foot in the garden, and as for the allotment – well I pass it twice a day,to and from the station, but otherwise it is as I left it at the start of winter.
However, I remain positive – as a gardener you have to be. I have sweet peas in the shed (note to self – must check and see if they’ve germinated), seeds waiting patiently in their packets to be sown, dahlia tubers in the cupboard under the stairs and assorted summer flowering bulbs in a box by my desk as I write this. Not to mention five sacks of potting compost and three of garden compost sitting in the garden. This coming week I have taken three days off work with the sole purpose of working in the garden and on the allotment, and I’m determined that unless it continues to rain until Wednesday morning I will be working outdoors in some way or another, there is so much to be done.
So fingers crossed that by the next time I post I will have some meaningful progress to report, and more importantly, the weather will have turned more Springlike!
Hellebore, Double Ellen
I love the colour green; I like to wear it, I have rooms painted in green and most of all I love to see it in the garden. And I find that this time of the year, when things have appeared to be various shades of grey for so many months, I really start to exhibit signs of green deprivation!
This year these signs have manifested themselves in different and interesting ways. Not only am I spending hours browsing seed and plant catalogues, painting mental images of flowers to come, I’m buying fresh flowers (#britishflowers of course) and spring flowering plants such as the glorious hellebore illustrating this post. But a new departure for me this year has been to resume knitting, something I’ve not done since my twenties and it’s all down to a conversation on Twitter. And the wool I’ve bought – has been green! I’m sure a psychologist would not need to work very hard to diagnose Spring deprivation, and advise an emergency course of exposure to the garden, with a bit of time for knitting up the green yarn, when it gets too dark outdoors to see what I’m doing!
Now that I’ve enjoyed a weekend that has included some quality time in the garden with the sun shining, I don’t feel quite so green deprived – but I’m going to keep knitting, just in case!
Hellebore ‘Double Ellen’ Red
I’ve inherited my passion for plants and all things gardening from my Mum. It was she who gave me my first patch of ground and seeds to sow in it; Candytuft and Virginian stocks; and who taught me the names of all the flowers in her garden. She still propagates plants in her greenhouse and can get pretty much anything to put down roots. and grow. So when I visited her and Dad today the conversation naturally turned to plants. It was good to share my news with them about my blogging for Sarah Raven project, and Mum was particularly keen on the #britishflowers movement. In fact given a bit more time I might be able to persuade her onto Twitter!
My parents have recently treated themselves to an iPad and so I gave Mum a little tour of some of my favourite websites, Common Farm Flowers and Higgledy Garden to name but two, and this afternoon she messaged me to say she was going to sit down with a cup of tea and catch up on my blog as well.
So knowing that Mum will find this post sooner or later, I want to say thank you Mum for passing on your love of gardening to me; sometimes my garden is the only thing that keeps me sane! And thank you too Mum, for listening to me ramble on about my plans today and, just for the time being, keeping my secrets for me.
With all my love xxx
Creating this blog and actively engaging with some like-minded souls in the Twitterverse has brought me some amazing rewards already (my previous post refers) but I think the most exciting development in my gardening world to date must be the creation of the #britishflowers movement. For the most part my Twitter activity is confined to all things gardening and I’ve found some lovely people there who are trying to re-energise the floristry industry to sourcing their cut flowers from growers based in Britain, rather than relying on flowers artificially forced and produced out of their natural season (tulips in August anyone?) and containered here either in massive Dutch lorries or by air-freight. The (very sensible and persuasive) argument is that British cut flowers have as much, if not masses more to offer than these hothoused/refrigerated blooms which usually have no perfume to offer, rack up air and road miles and had (but not for much longer) all but destroyed the British cut flower scene.
So the #britishflowers movement is all about raising awareness of the numbers of British growers out there; to encourage florists to think about sourcing their stock from them and so re-establish the home market. For the last two Monday evenings, between 8pm and 9pm, there has been a concerted effort to tweet about #britishflowers, using the hashtag I’m scattering throughout this post, with the aim to get it trending. And the most exciting news of all is that last night, only the second attempt remember, we did it!
The events are being stage managed by Georgie from CommonFarmFlowers (@britishblooms) and were the brainchild of @bespokeconfetti. Once the hour is over Georgie collates the conversations and posts them on her blog meaning we have an ongoing record of useful information to share! Yesterday’s subjects covered conditioning; what #britishflowers florists would like to see more of; and using foxgloves as cut flowers and you can read the results for yourself here (click on 29 January post): www.commonfarmflowers.com/blog.php
At the present I’m only dabbling on the fringes of being a grower of #britishflowers other than as my garden plants and this coming year on my allotment will help me discover if I wish to attempt to take it further. But I have to say that at present the subject is occupying every spare thinking moment and I can’t wait to get started.
So if you have even the tiniest bit of interest in #britishflowers either as a grower (actual or potential) a florist or as a supportive gardener and/or buyer of cut flowers do join the fun next Monday evening!
The viburnum branches are made to hold snow!
My garden, and allotment are both fast asleep under a blanket of snow and whilst the pavements are icy and walking to the station means risking life and limbs I am still finding the sight of it beautiful. Best of all was yesterday when the sun came out as everything sparkled – sadly I was at work all day and so denied a chance to get out with my camera which is so frustrating, and leaves me hoping that the coming weekend might deliver the right conditions – but then another part of me wants it all gone! Wouldn’t it be fabulous if the snow could vanish as quickly as it arrives?
Anyway a snow-bound garden and allotment means there is little to do outdoors for the moment (I dream of a greenhouse but no space in this garden) and so I am contenting myself with dreams for this summer’s display. I’m really looking forward to growing a cutting flower garden on my allotment, and thanks to Sarah Raven’s team I now have another project lined up - the exciting development!
A couple of weeks ago I saw a tweet from Sarah Raven (@srkitchengarden if you wanted to follow on Twitter) asking for gardeners who blogged to get in touch if they were interested in growing some seeds and blogging about the experience. Naturally I jumped at the chance, sent off an email whilst crossing my fingers, and they have very kindly supplied me with a packet of their Venetian Cut Flower Meadow Mix. It contains the following: Cornflower ‘Black Ball’, Cosmos ‘Rubenza”, Nicandra physalodes, Papaver somniferum ‘Cherry Glow’, Malope ‘Vulcan’ and Anethum graveolens (aka Dill). The link below should show what I can expect to grow – lovely!
I now need to identify which site is to benefit from these riches – my garden, the allotment or the third plot that I’m now responsible for, which I don’t believe I’ve written about – yet.