Thursday 31 May 2012

The Hanging of Mrs Bradshaw

It sounds like a murder mystery but this blog entry is not quite so sinister. The geum, Mrs Bradshaw, is so perfectly profilic this year that I have been interested to try different ‘flower arranging’ or should I say ‘flower hanging’ techniques.

In the garden - two generations of Mrs Bradshaw are weaving their way through the geum Prinses Juliana or is it Princess Juliana? I have seen it written both ways but as The National Collection of Geums spells it, ‘Prinses Juliana', I think I’ll stick with that.

A bucketful and still plenty left in the garden.

Threaded on transparent thread for dressing a window with a vase in the corner to complement.


Like a Flamenco dancer's skirt.

Floating away.

I have never dried Mrs Bradshaw before and I wonder if her centre is too succulent but I shall give it a whirl in the airing cupboard and see how it goes.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Favourites again?!

My favourites in the garden this week (oh yes, it changes weekly, if not daily, if not hourly, what a fickle flower grower I am) ... anyway this week's favourites are: Honesty, Briza (or Quaking-grass) and Orlaya Grandiflora.


Honesty has a fantastic retro 60s feel, evoking the era of Biba when dried 'silver dollar' tissue paper thin seed heads in dried arrangements were very much the in thing. I prefer Honesty 'in the green'. Preparing it for bunching is like stripping back Bells of Ireland, you just remove the leaves and any dried up flowers, clearly revealing the green and purple 'dollars' in all their glory.

Here they are growing in the garden and in a vase with Briza and Purple Sensation Alliums.

Quaking-grass is divine with it's tiny silver nodding heads and you can even hear it rattle as it moves.

Orlaya Grandiflora is a very bridal looking flower.  Last year I fell in love with all Ammi flowers, but really I love any flowers with umbels (the flat flower cluster that gives the appearance of an upside down umbrella). I grew Ammi Visnaga and Ammi Majus last year and I wanted to add Orlaya Grandiflora to the mix this year. It is a gorgeous row in the garden at the moment standing at about 1 metre high. I only wish I had grown more but then that is the case for  most things I grow in the garden, I'm just too greedy!

I wanted to try different backgrounds while the Orlaya umbel floated in a small container. I think I prefer the blue crushed velvet background but then I am a sucker for a piece of crushed velvet.

Friday 25 May 2012

To market, to market...

I have two farmers' markets this week, one at Sudbury and one at Lavenham. I know my stalls will not be as full as usual as I am in an, ‘in-between' stage with my flowers, in between the spring bulbs and the glorious flourish of annuals that will kick in quite soon. I love doing farmers' markets, it is lots of work planning, picking and preparing the flowers but it is a joy to meet and share information with other like minded people, both stallholders and customers alike.

Sudbury Farmers' Market relaunch, was this morning and it is the first time I have attended this market. It is  held in the beautiful, majestic, St Peter’s Church, so a very awe inspiring venue for a market.

It was a beautiful sunny day to kick off the relaunch and a lovely flow of people through the comparatively cool church so no flower wilting today!

Lavenham Farmers' Market next this Sunday 27th May!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

In the pink

There's so much to do in the garden at the moment it can be overwhelming...

Weeding ... Ahhh!

Planting ... Mmmm!

Sowing, staking, tying ... so it's always nice to take a few moments to enjoy the flowers and remember why I started the garden in the first place.  So today I felt a colour coding selection coming on with the theme, 'in the pink'.  I picked a selection of pink blooms from the garden to arrange later.

Featuring the pinks of the day (tiny drum roll) ... from left to right: ranunculus, clematis, aquilegia, hellbores, persicaria and saxifraga. Then Ruby Gem wallflowers in the grate.


Saxifraga, what a cutie!

Aquilegia and Waterhouse.

Ah now that was a good day!

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Impatient for autumn sown hardy annuals

As my spring bulbs gradually fade I am now itching to see the first blooms from my autumn sown hardy annuals.  The reliable autumn sown calendulas are already out and look fabulous with wallflowers.

I am after a more light and frothy hardy annual today and I have been rewarded by the appearance of my first shy cornflower.

Some of the Orlaya Grandiflora are trying to follow suit.

I love autumn sown hardy annuals; they provide green in the garden over winter, they are always stronger plants than spring sown and just when you have forgotten about them they shout, “Here we are!”.  I no longer need to lovingly look at last years dried cornflowers...
move over .... the fresh ones have arrived and so the beautiful seasonal cycle continues in earnest.

Monday 21 May 2012

A little bit of Purple Sensation.

‘Purple Sensation’, one of the varieties of alliums I have in the garden, have all now got their lollipop heads showing. They look lovely scattered amongst the achillea at different heights and with different head sizes. They look positively dwarfed by the developing ‘Hairy Alliums’ next to them. You can see this in the second picture and to me the Hairy Alliums look like chives experiencing a teenage growth spurt. When they flower they are ‘otherwordly’ in appearance, not to everyone’s taste but I love their wayward nature where everyday is a bad hair day for them.  Purple Sensation can be difficult to arrange in a vase as their heads get easily entwined in each other and no sooner have you released a pair as another gets tangled up. They do however, make a brilliant bold statement when arranged together with their imposing height and clarity of outline.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Primula Francisca

Primula Francisca is a beautiful zingy green and yellow primula. I have a big block of these in the seasonal cutting garden. This picture was taken a few days ago. The plants have survived voracious attacks from slugs and snails who have been basking wantonly in the moist soil over the last few weeks. After many hours of hand picking the slugs, the plants now look very healthy.

They have a fantastic vase life when cut, approximately 10 - 14 days. The stems can be cut at a height of about 17cms so they are perfect for the bedside. I have also arranged them in old brown bottles and on a vintage 60s mannequin head that I have had for years.

Saturday 19 May 2012

Early May in the ForageFor... seasonal flower garden

The beautiful wallflowers have now reached their peak in the seasonal flower garden. I have grown both the single and mixed colour varieties and all have been fantastic! The scent has been heady in the garden and the bees have loved them as much as I do.  Last year I sadly lost 90% of my wallflowers to a rather hungry family of rabbits, so this year they have been a delight.

The quantity of wallflowers in the garden has given me the opportunity to be 'flower greedy' and pick hundreds of stems, stripping back their lower leaves for the compost, and then trying different combinations of arrangements.

Wallflowers have an average vase life of 5 days and the delicate petals will drop, but I love this it's like having a scattering of confetti around the vase. These Ruby Gem wallflowers have been placed in a large windowbox in the middle of a dining table.

Here are yellow, orange and the pinks selected from the mixed variety, My Fair Lady, both are in  'earthy' looking Hillstonia jugs.  I particularly like the funky double handled one.