I am trying to document what is growing in the garden each month. These blooms were all photographed in the garden or the conservatory today 4/2/17. They include Winter Honeysuckle, Viburnum, Paperwhites, Amaryllis, Snowdrops, Hellebores....Each year is different depending on the weather. This year has seen some colder weather and frosts which is or certainly hasn't been the norm for us for a few years. That said we have had some cold March and April weather for the last two years and we can certainly do with out that! The mice have been having a nibble at a few Tulip bulbs mainly in pots, so I am putting to use some Holly clippings left from Christmas which I gather puts them off! (The picture of the seedlings in the greenhouse was taken in late January as part of a project to photograph seedling to bouquet for The Natural Wedding Company, growth is quite slow at this time of year so they don't look a great deal different this week.)
Rather amazingly I find a patriot collection of red, white and blue! British flowers!
Other jobs in the garden this week have included planting the absolute last batch of Paperwhites for this season. Preparing some new beds for this years annuals, repairing a hole in the greenhouse and ordering seeds. We have had a few glorious days and it is so therapeutic getting out and gardening.
These days we make lots of bouquets for delivery locally...a couple we have made recently...gorgeous wild scented gatherings of flowers.
January can be such a difficult month. Cold and grey after the glitz and sparkle of Christmas. I always plant Hyacinth bulbs for forcing but mine are never ready for Christmas as intended it is always January when they get going! BUT what a relief because come January I have scent and colour. Through January I make up containers of bulbs as an alternative to my bouquets starting from £20, please contact me for details.
Hyacinth bulbs for forcing are planted in the autumn and initially kept in the dark and cold before bringing them into light and warmth once they are shooting. The bulbs have been tricked into thinking they have done Winter and it is now Spring and flowering time! Some other bulbs are suitable for forcing/growing indoors e.g. Amaryllis and Paperwhite Narcissus. In addition some other varieties of Narcissus, Muscari and Tulip are reported to be good for forcing but I have less experience with these. I will be trying some different things this year as they are such a treat through the later months of winter January and February while waiting for the weather to improve, daylight hours lengthen and outdoor flowers to happen!
This morning in the garden, I have found, Snowdrops, Skimmia, Paperwhites, Christmas Box, winter Honeysuckle, Violets, Primroses, Rosemary, Ivy, Fennel....the scent is amazing. Even in the depths of winter it is still possible to find beauty in the garden.
Today we are warned of snow to come and so I thought I should see what is in the garden before it is covered?? The wind is bitter here today, although there is glorious sunshine. Winter is a difficult time, the dark and cold ....so a few thoughts about things you might do to cheer yourself and stay connected with your garden.
Yesterday I spent a truely happy afternoon choosing ribbons at the fabulous V V Rouleaux in London to compliment my bouquets for 2017. I am loving velvet for this season and have chosen some sumptuous colours...lots of greens, ranging from Squashed Gooseberry to Hellebore green, greys and soft dusky pinks with a splash of Old Fuschia. Today I have been picking in the garden, Hellebores, Paperwhites, seed heads ( some kindly donated by a neighbour) and adding in a few white Tulips and looking at colour combinations. I always consider my gift bouquets as luxury items and these gorgeous ribbons really add the finishing touch.
This is our quiet time in that we are only cutting a limited range of flower...Paperwhite Narcissus, Amaryllis, Hyacinths, Foliage.....Soon I am looking forward to the Hellebores....However along with these I buy Freesias from Guernsey and Alstroemeria from Sussex, Tulips from Lincolnshire and other bits and pieces from Cornwall...this week some gorgeous contorted Willow, but sometimes Heather or Ranunculus and we are making some lovely bouquets. I sometimes add in the odd imported flower if my own are between crops but mostly they are all still British grown and sourced as locally as possible. I still manage to include things from the garden all through the year buds, twigs, leaves etc until flowers are abundant again outside, this ensures we continue to have a natural style and things look just picked. So this is what we are offering currently and I will keep you updated as we move forward into Spring.
I had hoped to write a blog each day in conjunction with hosting the Flowers from the Farm Instagram account but as you can imagine this week has ended up being very busy and this is only my third post!
So....Day Four which was Thursday was a day spent at Somerleyton Hall making wreaths. We use all the beautiful foliages from the gardens and make large country style wreaths for the restaurants on the Estate and The Hall. I also sent more flowers by post, This time to a florist wanting a box of British grown flowers.
Day 5 ( Friday), A day of preparation for Snape Produce Market and next weeks wreath making workshops. Flowers arriving from Cornwall and putting together mixed bunches. There are Narcissus, Heather and Alstroemeria and lots of greenery. Then a trip to the wholesaler to buy more English Moss, orange slices, frames etc.
Day 6 ( Today), First thing I delivered a Luxury bouquet of gorgeous British grown flowers for a special birthday then Snape Produce Market was in full swing from 9.30-1 and finally home for a nice HOT cup of tea!!
Today we woke to a proper frost....what luck we put the Dahlias to bed yesterday! So today we have continued to tidy up, sorting through all the vases and other props we have for weddings. This was followed by sending out a bouquet by post to London. The bouquet included my Paperwhite Narcissus, Freesias from Guernsey, Heather from Cornwall and Alstoemeria from Sussex. I send my bouquets Special Delivery and my boxes are beautifully looked after by the lovely staff at Southwold Post Office. Then late afternoon a Bride and her Mother arrived to talk wedding flowers for next Spring. it is so thrilling that people seem genuinely interested in using British grown flowers for their weddings and events.
I grow here on a very small scale but quite intensively. I grow small quantities of flowers all year round. I try to grow things which are more difficult to source either varieties or colours, which I can add to my bouquets to make them really special. One of the huge benefits of using British flowers is the scent. Which is so different to most imported blooms.
Through the Winter the things I grow include Amaryllis, Hyacinths and Paperwhite Narcissus, then moving into Spring Hellebores, Grape Hyacinths, Scented Narcissus, Tulips, Alliums, Iris, Wallflowers, Hesperis, Sweet Williams, Foxgloves. For Summer we have Gladiolus, a few Roses, Hydrangeas and Peonies, crops of Cornflowers, Cosmos, Marigolds, Nigella and Sweet Peas....as we move into Autumn, Dahlias, Grasses and Chrysanthemums.....This isn't everything we grow but gives you a flavour. I buy in from other local growers and then further afield from other British growers and use British grown flowers all year round.
Below is a little gallery of things I have grown in the cutting garden.
Today we have been tidying in readiness for our Christmas workshops. A huge task after such a busy wedding season. There is more to do! In addition we have been making more wreaths and a sample table decoration. Today we have Ranunculus, Paperwhites and Freesias. My Paperwhites, Ranunculus from Cornwall and Freesias from Guernsey. I am not sure if we will be able to get Ranunculus for Christmas but it would be great if we could. In the afternoon this was followed by putting the Dahlias to bed with a thick covering of straw. We are lucky here that we tend not to get really heavy frosts but a sharp frost is forecast for tomorrow and we always mulch the Dahlias in a thick protective blanket of straw. Finally this evening I am giving a talk to the village gardening club.
Below is a little gallery of my Dahlias....roll on next year!
This week I am posting on behalf of Flowers From The Farm on Instagram and so I will be blogging each day. The idea is to show what a week is like here at The Garden Gate Southwold. I started the day by making a sample foraged Christmas wreath. I love making wreaths. I particularly like using garden foliages to create a really wild natural look.
I grow on a very small scale but quite intensively. Monday is a growing day. Today I planted about 5oo Tulips, 200 Muscari and 100 Iris. I have 250 Alliums and 200 Narcissus still to plant. We have planted about 3000 bulbs already and these are the last. It is always a lot to do in the autumn but so worth it in the Spring. This year I have planted different varieties of Muscari, Alliums, Iris, Narcissus, Scilla and lots of Tulips. I am also trying Fritillaria. I make bouquets and decorate weddings and events, so I plant with this mind.
Then at the end of the afternoon I drove to Hillcrest Nurseries where Julie is cutting her foliage and filled my car with Holly, Ivy, Firs etc. I have a large Holly tree and Ivy but it is great to use the different Firs that Julie has at her Flower Farm.
The thing about growing my own Tulips is I can have lots of different varieties and colours not available from the larger commercial growers. In addition to being able to pick on demand and the added benefit that my flowers are much kinder to the environment, with zero air-miles. I have planted more varieties than I can print here but if you follow my blog and social media feeds I show pictures of them as they come into bloom. Below are a few pictures from last year.
My Christmas Workshops are now confirmed and dates are on the website ...Christmas and Workshop pages. Some of the dates are already getting booked up, so please book your place as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. These workshops are such fun and really start the Christmas season off. I like to keep numbers small so everyone gets plenty of guidance. This year I am adding a new venue, The Harbour Inn in Southwold, where they have log fires and a lovely cosy atmosphere. It would be great if you could join us either to make a wreath or your Christmas table flowers. The workshops also include some tasty seasonal refreshments and at The Harbour Inn there is the chance to stay on for a meal after the workshop if you fancy making an evening out. People enjoy the workshops if they come with friends, but many people come on their own and leave having made friends.
In keeping with my British/Local Flower ethos, I make my Christmas Wreaths with British Moss, and British grown foliages. I have a large Holly tree and lots of Ivy which I cut, I go to Julie's flower farm near Norwich and collect Fir foliage and cones. In addition, I have a delivery of Mistletoe from Herefrordshire. As it is all gathered in, the scents of Christmas waft through the house! "Bringing in the green" has long been a tradition for British Christmas celebrations and perhaps even further back in folklore. It brings scents and beauty into the house. A wreath on the door, says "Welcome" and "Happy Christmas" and "We celebrate Christmas here".
Tuesday 6th December 6-8pm Wreath Making at The Harbour Inn Southwold £45 including all materials and light refreshments.
Wednesday 7th December 9.30-12.30 Reydon, Christmas Wreath Making, make your own traditional Christmas wreath and get the festive season underway, £45 including all materials and light refreshments (Fully Booked)
Thursday 8th December and Friday 9th December 10am at Somerleyton Hall Wreath Making (This workshop costs £60 and includes lunch.
Tuesday 13th December 9.30-12.30 Reydon, Christmas Wreath Making, make your own traditional Christmas wreath and get the festive season underway, £45 including all materials and light refreshments NEW DATE
Wednesday 21st December Reydon, 9.30-12.30 Winter Flowers for Christmas, learn about cutting flowers from your garden in winter and make a winter table arrangement for your Christmas table. (3 Spaces left)
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.