To date, I have been what you might call an urban "flower farmer" ( despite living in the country)...growing a large array of flowers in my garden. Hundreds of bulbs and Dahlias grown intensively in a relatively small space. Now things are changing. I have taken on some more growing space in a walled garden near by, with a view to increasing my capacity....there is space to double or possibly triple the amount I grow. It is south facing like our garden and very sheltered so ....watch this space....The first step is to rabbit proof fence the area along with preparing the ground for planting. If you look closely you can see Stuart marking it all out ready for action! It is still growing/cultivating in a way I feel comfortable...gardening and most things by hand rather than farming for real which is larger scale and involves fields and tractors. I will still grow small quantities of lots of different things but it will give me a chance to expand my business gently while still keeping it all very personal, which is how I like it.
"A host of golden Daffodils" Wordsworth
Spring only really starts when the Daffodils start to bloom.
I plant Daffodil bulbs in September, they need little attention but reasonably fertile soil and watering help produce more blooms. They may need dividing if clumps become too congested and leaves should be allowed to die back naturally as this allows the bulb to store nutrients for next spring's flowers.
Favourite varieties include, Sir Winston Churchill, Cheerfulness, Avalanche, February Gold ( which flower late February/early March here), Geranium, High Society, Perfect Lady, Silver Chimes, Pheasant Eye, Thalia, Sweet Love,, Vanilla Peach, Grand Soleil D'Or, Paperwhites. I particularly like the scented varieties. before my own Narcissus come into flower, I buy in from Scilly Isles and then Cornwall.
Daffodils are also now associated with fundraising for Marie Curie Nurses. With this in mind from now until the end of my Daffodil season I will be donating £1 from my large £15 jars of mixed Daffodils and Narcissus to The Marie Curie Nurses appeal.
For International Women's Day, I have decided to write a somewhat more personal post. Many older women feel invisible. Having brought up their families and perhaps been sidelined in their career as a result they feel lost when their children leave home. Society appears to favour youth and beauty and as we age this is no longer our party. Older women can easily feel irrelevant. Some believe themselves unemployable. I had what would be considered a high power career which I left to bring up my children. When my eldest son went to university I took a two year City and Guilds course in Floristry. I loved it and became increasingly interested in growing cut flowers and the new wave of naturally styled flowers. This led to a year training in horticulture and then both the launching of The Garden Gate and a job growing and arranging flowers at Somerleyton Hall in North Suffolk.
I have recently read a comment ( sorry I am not sure where so I can't attribute it), " empty nest, full mind". This is certainly what has happened to me. When I least expected it, I have found a new passion in life, growing, selling and arranging cut flowers. I go on courses, read books and am constantly learning new things. This is not just about growing better and arranging flowers in new and exciting ways but also covers other things, photography, social media, selling, marketing, websites, colour, fashion, wedding trends etc I have met new people and some of these have become friends. It is not the answer for everyone but learning new things and attending courses can be a gateway to a new phase in life. It has certainly been the case for me.
This is a picture of my lovely daughter who came to help me with my Mother's Day stall at Snape Maltings Farmer's Market. We had a great morning selling flowers despite the truly awful cold weather. I am so lucky The Garden Gate would be nothing without my wonderful family who have supported and helped me all the way on this adventure.
Today, I held the first of my flower workshops for 2016. The ladies were such good company, it was a great fun, relaxed morning. They made some awesome bouquets and I am hoping this has given them the confidence to try growing some of their own flowers and make some lovely handtied bouquets for family and friends. The next date is Tuesday 19th April when we will be making Tulip bouquets, do come and join me.
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.