Georgie's Blog

  • Working from home with kids

    Working from home with kids

    Spot the kiddliwinks?  

    And so the summer holidays begin their long roll.  Remember yours?  Mine were long, happy days, scented with the dusty, hot smell of harvesting corn (and then burning stubble - I grew up in arable country in East Anglia.)  And my fantasy is that my kids will have long, happy days, feeling feral, running wild around this little flower farm too.  

    People start kitchen table businesses for an endless list of reasons, and one of mine was that I wanted to work from home so that I would be around for the kids.  Ha! I should have examined my mother's own kitchen table business (she made patchwork quilts for a living,) more carefully.  I realise that my Mama arranged things so tht at the end of term she downed tools for the duration of the holidays, during which time she played perfect mama, rustling up amazing meals, thought of fun activities, took us on Anglia Holiday Club outings to the roller disco at the Corn Exchange in Cambridge and to the Scott Joplin ballet in the big top on Parkers Piece.  

    S...

  • Planning the cut flower patch

    Planning the cut flower patch

    It may seem odd to you that we should be deep in planning the cut flower patch in July.  Surely the cut flower patch is in full flower and for once we have an opportunity to stand back and admire it, sit nearby, even, drink wine and watch while the butterflies dance about it? Well, yes.  But we're also always planning what we're doing next and where we're going to put it.

    For example, last week I was pricking out biennials.  Now I have a ninety foot long bed available for these seedlings when they're big enough to plant out in September.  How do I know I have the right number of plants for the space?  Well, if a bed is 90 foot long, and three feet wide, and I plant at roughly five plants across each three feet width (a little tight in spacing, but there will be some loss during the winter,) then I have room for 450 plants.  Now I pricked out biennials until I'd frankly had enough, and I found I had 240 seedlings.  So they will take 48 rows.  Which leaves me 42 rows to fill.  Happy days.  So what will I put there?  Well...

  • Cafe au lait dahlia

    Cafe au lait dahlia

    Please welcome back the cafe au lait dahlia.  

    This coy beauty would rather a place in the back row of the chorus, so slow is she to flower.  No Karma Choc she, the cafe au lait is a labour of love to grow, and when she does grow well for you, goodness but the word 'floriforous' does NOT apply to her.  Which is why I have fifteen cafe au lait plants compared to three or five of other dahlia varieties.  Because when she does flower... as you can see, her blushing beauty is quite a thing.  

    No photograph EVER does a cafe au lait dahlia justice.  She is INFINITELY more subtle in colour, almost as though she glows from inside, than she ever shows herself in photographs.  I adore her, and as soon as I have ONE flower I've learned never to wait, but to cut her quick and pop her into a bouquet.  Here she is with Graham Thomas roses, scabious, nigella, another pinker dahlia less precious and so I'm afraid I've forgotten her name (though fond of her I am, and though good worker she is!)  

    I will admit I've never had a caf...

  • Sweet pea cropping

    Sweet pea cropping

    We love it when we get a special order from a customer who knows us well.  Some of our clients have been with us right from the beginning (2010) and know that if they ask for a special order we'll do our best to create whatever they've asked for.  Do you remember the ball of cowslips for a bride's bouquet a year or so ago?  Here we have another ball of flowers, this time about a hundred sweet peas, for a beloved Mama sent by her daughter in Scotland.  We made it by making three posies and tying them together to get this really tight ball shape.  I happen to know that the Mama might find the box and the wrapping and everything fiddly, and so also imagine she doesn't want to be handling a large bouquet that's especially heavy.  And so three posies tied together make quite a statement when they come out of the box, but if the Mama in question finds dealing with a large vase filled with water too much and too heavy, she needn't, as she can turn the bouquet into three light posies with one snip of her scissors: a posy for the kitchen, a posy for the sittin...

  • July news.....

    July news.....

    No seriously, July already? You’ll be sighing and saying you’ve noticed the nights are drawing in next. At which, of course, I roll my eyes to the heavens… and then panic! Or not, in fact… For the first time ever, in the history of Common Farm Flowers (watch the thunderbolt strike me down for saying this,) we are ‘on it’ where the seed sowing is concerned. I have a *few* more biennials I could sow direct in the ground, but I’ve hedged my bets and sowed a tray of each biennial so I’ll have a nice array of seedlings for planting out in September should the rest of my direct-sown seed not germinate. Sue is out there now sowing the final fling of annuals. We’re even doing things like popping round with a bucket doing groundsel tours as the big weeding is kind of under control. This isn’t the end of the seed sowing year of course: in September when we have our cut flower patch workshop I’ll be sowing a little hardy annual seed to overwinter, some in the ground, some in the greenhouse, but I won’t sow much. Gettin...

  • Do roses and dahlias go together?

    Do roses and dahlias go together?

    Every year Sharon and I have a little discussion: do roses and dahlias go together?  After all, rational examination of the looks of both might decree not.  Roses are delicate, their petals soft, round, like a really thick, good quality, crepe de chine.  Often their heads bob shyly like country debutantes at a ball in the 1920s, overwhelmed by the confidence of their chic, town-used peers.  Dahlias are stronger, their heads held high, ready to dance, outrage, they are the can-can girls of the cut flower patch.  Where roses smell sweet, dahlias have a hard, almost rubbery smell.  Their petals are often sharply pointed, their faces are always full of confidence: there's no such thing as a diffident dahlia.  

    So do these two go together?  Well, oddly enough, despite the fact that a bucket of roses next to a bucket of dahlias serves only to reinforce the fact that you might think they don't, I challenge you to ignore their differences, put them together, and you'll find that they make a very good team.  The strong stems of the dahli...

  • Rock my wedding feature

    Rock my wedding feature

    Delighted to be featured on Rock My Wedding today with DIY English country wedding flowers we supplied direct from our farm last summer for a great wedding at the Roth Bar at Hauser and Wirth Somerset, Bruton.  Such a stylish couple with a real determination to spend wisely, create superbly, and totally make the most of the choices they made.  What a beautiful day they had... though it does help to have a world class Piet Oudolf garden in which to have your photos taken!  I think they had five or six buckets of flowers and clearly used them all to great effect.  

    see www.rockmywedding.co.uk/lynn-danny/ for more info xxx

    Photo by Cotton Candy Photography

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  • Parham House Garden Festival

    Parham House Garden Festival

    Come on down to the Parham House Garden Festival on Sunday this week (9th July) and say hello.  I'll be demonstrating with my lovely garden flowers, talking about how we grow, cut, condition and arrange our flowers, how we keep our garden flowering all season long, and hoping to see a few of you there. 

    Parham House is privately owned and not often open as the family, not surprisingly, like to live there and spend time there themselves.  The gardens are absolutely amazing, and they have fascinating trials throughout the season, testing different varieities of flowers for performance when cut.

    Follow their head gardener @headgardenertom on Twitter for regular updates on how the Parham House garden grows, and come on down to the garden festival this weekend.  For me it's a heavenly drive across country from here, early in the morning, on a Sunday, feeling as though i have all the world to myself.  And when I get there, hopefully I'll see some of you there toom

    Best wishes, and see you on Sunday!

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  • What qualities do you need to be a flower farmer?

    What qualities do you need to be a flower farmer?

    We had the garden team from Yeo Valley HQ here at Common Farm Flowers between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset yesterday - what a compliment that they wanted to visit our little flower farm!  And how could I say no, since each time we do a joint venture with Yeo Valley our web stats go ballistic?  Besides, I was curious to meet the lovely lady who Instagrams the Yeo Valley garden feed so beautifully.  And what a great gang they were.  And how I envy an organisation which can run to five gardeners!  We, on a bigger patch of land, have me, Sharon, Fabrizio, Sue 10 hours a week, and lovely Penny our volunteer who comes in most Mondays.  

    As is often the case with people who keep a smart garden open to the public which must be kept pretty much immaculate all the time, they are nevertheless amazed at what we achieve on a pretty slim budget, and with often less than two hours a day each in the garden.  

    And so I come to the qualitities necessary to be a flower farmer.  

    Yes, horticultural knowledge is useful, but one can le...

  • Top tips for tipi marquee wedding flowers

    Top tips for tipi marquee wedding flowers

    Tipi marquees can be quite dark inside.  The canvas comes low to the ground and there's little room for the sides to be open to let in light.  Use this to your advantage when it comes to choosing wedding flowers.  Pale coloured flowers glow in low light.  So go for white in a tipi tent and they'll shine for you.  This last weekend we did masses of white flowers for a gorgeous tipi marquee wedding in a farm field in Somerset.  Usually at this time of year I'd worry that white flowers would just disapear against white table cloths and in the glare of a high summer sun.  However, here, on plain board trestle tables, in the shade of a tipi marquee, our flowers absolutely glowed in the light.  So if you're planning to have a reception in a tipi marquee, think of having white flowers which will show up beautifully against the tipi background.

    You're welcome!

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