January is a difficult time in the cutting garden. I have Snowdrops, Hellebores, Winter Honeysuckle, Viburnum and Forced Hyacinths. The weather is cold and spirits low, the beautiful colours and scent of Hyacinths helps. There is a waiting game...waiting for spring and the Narcissus, then the Tulips...The prepared Hyacinth bulbs are released by the bulb companies in August which is when you need to plant for a Christmas showing. I generally wait until September as I want flowers in January. At Christmas I have Paper White Narcissus and it is January when I want the colour and scent of Hyacinths. They are planted in pots and kept in the cool dark for about 3 months. Then taken into the light and moderate warmth. I find they flower about three to four weeks later. The deep purple in the picture is Woodstock this is a particularly stunning variety. I have blue, pink, white and purple available this week starting at £7.50 a pot do let me know if you would like some.
Following their appearance on The Great British Garden Revival I thought I would talk about Irises. I grow Dutch Iris for cutting and these usually come into flower in May. They are grown from bulbs planted in the autumn and produce good cutting blooms. Then I also have Bearded Iris grown from rhizomes which are planted near the soil surface as they liked to be baked by the sun and flower a little later. In Spring I have pots of little Reticular Iris which flower early, this year I have Harmony and Edward.
They are beautiful elegant blooms which add a different texture and shape to bouquets and arrangements as well as their vivid colour. I like to mix them with late Tulips, Alliums, Sweet Wlliams, Sweet Rocket, Ox Eye Daisy....
This Morning I played the organ at Blyford Church. ( I was pleased to see the Paperwhites I had put there for the carol service were still in full bloom).This set me thinking about our village churches here in Suffolk. Imposing buildings certainly and symbols of times past. Here in the countryside they also maintain a way of life. A seasonal cycle from Christmas to Harvest, Mothering Sunday to Easter. They are also a meeting place, a place for flower festivals and Fêtes. I visit them filling them with flowers for weddings, bringing the outside in.Times to celebrate, gatherings of family and friends. I love the light. Tranquil, peaceful, thoughtful places. The church yards often sheltering wild life and wild flowers. This morning a robin emerged from the Yew as we came out into the winter sunshine. A pause in our busy lives.
I like to incorporate wild flowers into my bouquets and wedding flowers. I think it complements the garden flowers I use and creates a really natural look. My 2015 Brides are keen to use them and are asking in some cases for exclusively wild or wild looking flowers in their bouquets and arrangements.
I have a lot of wild flowers which grow naturally in my garden. These include Foxgloves, Honesty, Ox Eye Daisy, Cow Parsley and Fennel. Others I encourage by cultivating them, Primroses, Bluebells, Sweet Marjoram, Honeysuckle and Cornflowers. In addition I grow wild looking flowers such as Ammi and Hesperis ( Sweet Rocket). Wild flowers don't last long cut and it is important to remember you must not cut them from the wild. It is illegal to dig up wild flowers and picking them is a complicated issue depending on where and what they are and what you intend to do with the specimen.
I don't have space for a wild flower meadow but if you do you can source seed from Nigel Dunnett's (Olympic Park) company Pictorial Meadows. .....They produce beautiful mixes with a good variety to chose from. I grow some wild flowers from seed these include Honesty, Hesperis and Sweet Marjoram. Honesty and Hesperis are Bienniel which means you sow them in May/June and they flower the following year. This year I am trialling sowing Red Campion from seed. It is helpful to consider the plants natural habitat to decide if they are good for your garden. For example annuals such as poppies prefer poor soil and good sun, whilst woodland varieties like primroses prefer damper shadier sites. I find Primroses propagate well by division and Bluebells naturalise from planting a few bulbs.
Many plants including wild flowers are poisonous to humans and or animals so it is very important not to eat them and to wash hands after handling...also keep well away from children and animals. The RHS and Kew Gardens provide helpful information in this area.
Suppliers of seed to buy include Sarah Raven, Thompson and Morgan and Crocus. My Bluebell bulbs come from Peter Nyssen.
Other resources include books by Sarah Raven and Carol Klein ( Wild Flowers Nature's Own to Garden Grown-helpful growing advice) as well as Collins Complete Guide to British Wild flowers. Another helpful resource is The Wild Flower Society which has a website www.thewildflowersociety.com and can also be found on Facebook.
As the year progresses I will keep updating information about my wild flowers and let you know how they are flourishing.
Do you grow wild flowers/ or have particular favourites if so it would be good to hear from you.
I have had some conversations with people about how long flowers will last! This is more important it would seem than how beautiful they are or how fabulous their scent. I have even on one occasion advised buying artificial flowers as the length of time the customer had in mind was totally unrealistic. I usually hope for a vase life of 5 days but for some it will be shorter and others longer. Certain things will help:-
Remember imported flowers have often been bred for longer vase life and treated with chemicals and fungicides. In the process apart from being generally non eco friendly the very nature of the blooms are lost in particular scent. They are however older (quite a lot older) than my flowers as they have travelled a long way and been handled by grower, transporter, wholesaler and retailer.
My garden flowers are untreated but as they are so freshly cut I find they last well. They are so freshly cut they will drink a lot of water in the first 24 hours so don't be mean!
My story in flowers started as a child growing a tiny patch of London Pride Saxifraga...also known as Whimsey or Look Up and Kiss Me! Fast forward to 8 years ago when I started a City and Guilds training in floristry. I qualified as a florist and then to deepen my growing knowledge and skills I trained in horticulture as well. I trained under a WRAGS scheme at Darsham Nurseries and at Somerleyton Hall. Developing a passion for both growing and designing/arranging British garden flowers, I planted a cutting garden. Having become increasingly concerned about where and how flowers are grown, coupled with a love of British grown flowers. and natural styling, I now specialise in growing and using beautiful British grown flowers to make romantic natural designs. for weddings, events, gifts and much more.