Wednesday 27 February 2013

A Day of Two Halves - Heather & Snowdrops

The first half of today was freezing cold and grey as I tidied up my winter flowering heather.  I have a range of colours,

but my favourite is this grey, white one - it has an antique patina and lovely layering to the flowers.

During a coffee break, to try and get the feeling back in my finger tips, I couldn't resist gathering all the lovely flower heads to make a 'heather tapestry'.

Their tiny flowers look so complex close up, almost like a dicentra.

The second half of the day was glorious sunshine and blue skies with flocks of geese flying over, buzzards squeeching and plenty of snowdrops to harvest.

..... I think I liked the second half best!

Monday 25 February 2013

"Seasonality" What Does It Mean To You?

As a seasonal cut flower grower I spend quite a bit of time explaining what I mean by 'seasonal' so I was interested to do a brief post on seasonality to share my thoughts and would love to know what others understand by this term too.

The seasonality of flowers has always been a huge passion for me. The excitement of seeing the first bulbs appear in early spring, then the abundance of mid summer flowers, contrasted with a relative ‘flower abstinence’ during the winter months, feels so natural and right. A beautiful deferred gratification and a celebration of the ebb and flow of the flower seasons in the country you live, what could be nicer? Of course following the 'seasonal flower path' can make it difficult for cut flower customers who are now used to selecting and choosing the specific flowers they want and when they want them.  So many flowers sold in the UK, are grown abroad, usually under cover, sometimes using heating, they are then picked, cold stored and flown to the UK usually via the Dutch auctions.  So as a business it’s always important for seasonal growers to explain what they mean by ‘seasonal’ and what the implications are for their customers.

As much as I adore all cut flowers I see them as a ‘want’ rather than a ‘need’ and therefore, for me, they come into the category of a ‘luxury’ that should be grown without using an abundance of resources. This is one of the reasons I grow all the flowers I sell outside.  Another reason, is so I can keep absolutely true to the seasons of the local area where I grow. Some people use polytunnels to extend growing seasons of flowers (cropping earlier in spring and later in autumn) but I feel this reduces the authenticity of the flower’s natural growth during that particular season and that particular year. As a result, whatever flowers you grow outside then become a direct reflection of the variability of that year’s weather, some flowers may perish with say, too much rain and can be composted, others will be abundant. So when we cut beautiful flowers that are grown outside naturally, they can potentially enhance our experience of synergy with the nature of our local environment in a more subtle way.  I can't think of anything more gorgeous.

My seasonal obsession also spills over to social media and I try and keep posts and blogs contemporaneous as much as possible, partly because it makes sense to me but also to share the feeling of seasonality with others.

Come on, let's celebrate our seasonally grown flowers and enable the familiarity of our seasons to be reflected in our blooms! 

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Grasses, fresh shoots & violets.

It was lovely to have a whole day in the garden today.  We lost the sunshine and the air had a chill to it, but with a little physical activity (and a few toffee waffle biscuits) it takes no time to warm up and de-layer clothing.  The soil seems, dare I even say it, unseasonally dry, so although it is easy to work, my mind is harking back to last year, with it's drought during the sowing season and deluge during the blooming season. I'll keep all digits crossed that there isn't a repeat this year.

My ‘grass beds’ have been shaming me recently and nobody wants to be shamed by a grass bed! I didn’t get time in the autumn to clear my beautiful Frosted Explosion grass so that was one of my many jobs today.

Here they are last July (oh those heady days). They add great texture and an ethereal quality to any bunch or bouquet.

And here they are earlier this morning alongside my trusty perennial Quaking Grass.  They look a little sad but the seed heads still remain, providing potential for self seeding?

A gorgeous network of stems and seedheads.

Even time to stop, stare and make a plume of them!

I then finished clearing a space in the garden for some lovely Luzula Nivea grass that a friend kindly donated and I also wanted to make space for my new grass passion (you can never have too many grasses in my book) the delicious Spangle Grass.

I don't know about any other gardeners out there but no matter where I garden I always find this orange hay bale twine in land I work. I never use it myself, but there it is, in all gardens I have worked, in it's many guises, looking brand new or old and tangled in the blades of a rotavator.  Horrible stuff that never breaks down.

There are also gorgeous blooms and fresh tender shoots in the garden today.

A lovely, tender, hairy delphinium looking like a sweet miniature forced rhubarb, standing at only 4cm high, fit for any dolls house table.

Perfect blue pansy.

And velvety violets.  I have plans for these tonight ... I feel a confectionery project approaching ....

Friday 15 February 2013

Floriculture at the Garden Museum London

Yesterday was the first day of the Floriculture Exhibition at the Garden Museum in London and I was lucky enough to go.  I love the title of the exhibition, ‘Floriculture’, in fact I love any derivation of the word floral so this was a fabulous start for Valentine's Day for me!

The Garden Museum itself is a little gem, very charming, very understated and very ‘un-boutiqued’ for a London Museum.  It is based in St Mary's Church next to Lambeth Palace. It is where John Tradescant, one of the great British gardeners and plant hunters of the late 16th century to early 17th century, is buried and coincidentally it is thought he might have been born here in Suffolk.

The museum also has a shop, cafe (serving veggie food and yummy cakes) and a garden.  Upstairs houses the permanent display of gardening history and downstairs has a room for the changing exhibitions.

This is the entry for the Floriculture exhibition with a lovely fresh floral surround to the doorway.

The exhibition is a must for anyone interested in cut flowers. It covers everything about the cut flower trade.

Lots of juicy flower facts:

A bit of history with a timeline of cut flower production in the UK:

And some beautiful images and quotes:

The perfect quote for a local seasonal flower grower, "If it be summer-time" indeed Mr Dickens!

Not only was the exhibition full of information that needed time to be read and digested, it had the most stunning visual display of roses, each stripped of their leaves, tied with copper wire and hung upside down from a network of wire.  Unseasonal I know, but nontheless beautiful.  It looked fabulous from all angles with the backdrop of the church interior to really show it off.

From above:

From the side:

From underneath:

Well, after all that beautiful flower saturation, what else did I get time for on Valentine's Day in London?

Well a bit of this:

some of this:

and guess who was also there?

I wondered why Burough Market was so busy on a Thursday.

Also there was a bit of this:

and this:

So if you are in the Lambeth Palace area and you love cut flowers make your way to the Garden Museum, it is a MUST!