A post for May

We’re nearly at the end of May and I realised I’ve written nothing at all for this month, so here is a whistle-stop tour of the month to bring us up to date.

At the start of the month my garden celebrated the two year anniversary of its re-design/re-planting and even if I say so myself, it has come on in leaps and bounds.  If anything can be said for the extended cold Spring we’ve suffered again this year it is that the plants that bloom this time of the year do at least hold on to their flowers for a lot longer (once they come into flower that is) and so my tulips and wisteria are all in flower together and both have lasted for weeks.  But that is the only positive thing.

One year ago today

Finished garden, May 2011

Two years on

Two years on

I’ve been working my allotment for about one year now – and that too, I’m pleased to say is showing a vast improvement on the dandelion infested patch I took on last year.  It still has more dandelions than I’d like, but at least I’ve reclaimed two beds and a third is now coming along – I have flowers planted but it remains if they will be flowering by the end of June, which is when I’d planned to offer them for a donation at the local fair – I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Allotment, May 2013

Allotment, May 2013

I left my garden alone for a week while we had a holiday in Pembrokeshire.  It was gratifying to see the difference a week’s growth made when I came home – everything seemed to have come into flower behind my back – but as already said, the cool weather meant it was all still looking lovely when I got home.

What a difference a week makes!

What a difference a week makes!

And finally, I returned to Chelsea Flower Show!  I’ve worked it out as being about 20 years since my last visit, when put off by the crowds and the crush to get to see anything I decided to spend my money on tickets to the Hampton Court Flower Show instead.  I bought Chelsea tickets for this year and took Mum as a birthday present.  We hoped for the best, but went prepared for the worst if I’m honest – and we were very pleasantly surprised.  It was busy, but then it was the second day, and it is always going to draw crowds.  But we could see every garden we wanted to see, and we could get around the pavilion comfortably (it might lack the romance of white canvass but in terms of space it’s a great improvement on the old marquee).  All in all it was a lovely day out and we’re going back next year!

Chelsea 2013

Chelsea 2013

As May turns into June I am now waiting for all the little plants I’ve brought on from seeds so carefully to bring forth lovely flowers and maintain my inspiration to make a business from growing #britishflowers for cutting.  But we need some warm weather, and soon – we now have lovely long light evenings, perfect for sitting outdoors and enjoying the garden at its best, but without some warmth in the day time the evenings are chilly and best spent indoors with a bulb catalogue or three!

Handpicked Flowers, from my garden and allotment

Handpicked Flowers, from my garden and allotment

Posted in #britishflowers, Adventures in my allotment, In my garden, Out of my garden | 2 Comments

Gathering momentum

 

Looking down the garden

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

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.

The growhouse

The growhouse

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.

 

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“April is the cruellest month”

My under gardener gets stuck in (and blisters!)

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!

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Anticipating 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!

Primroses in the snow

 

Posted in Adventures in my allotment, In my garden | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Seeing green

Hellebore, Double Ellen

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!

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A conversation with my Mum

Hellebore 'Double Ellen' Red

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

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#britishflowers

Daisies and grasses

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!

Posted in #britishflowers, Adventures in my allotment, In my garden | Tagged , , | 2 Comments