Georgie's Blog

  • Top tips for growing ranunculus

    Top tips for growing ranunculus

    Ranunculus are proper little fusspots to grow.  You can almost hear them whining: I don't like frost, I don't like wet, I don't like mice... 

    We like to take them in charge, boss them about a bit, and, within parameters that they'll permit, we grow a nice crop to flower from the end of March through to mid May in our poly tunnel.

    The claws are ordered to arrive with the tulips (early November,) and we plant them at about the same time, but not at all in the same way.

    First of all we buy some proper expensive compost: well drained, soft, rich - we like Sylvagrow by Melcourt which is a proper cashmere blanket of a compost which we use for most of our seed sowing, and management of any fusspots (like ranunculus!) 

    Then we soak our ranunculus claws for a few hours until they fatten up to about twice the size they were when they arrived.

    Meanwhile we fill module trays with the smarty pants compost and write our many lables and create mouse-proof staging in our warmer polytunnel (the one where the sides go down in the winter so it's...

  • Tips for planting tulips

    Tips for planting tulips

    We order them in August, and then in November we plant tulips by the thousand here at Common Farm Flowers near Bruton in Somerset.  From the end of March to early May we will have tulips in all our flower delivery bouquets as well as more for our wedding and special event flowers.  

    This year I'm glad there's been a good snap of cold weather before we plant.  Tulips like a bit of cold to help kill off diseases, which is why traditionally they're planted in November.  We do budget to lose about 10% to tulip fire (when the tulips come up short and stunted and twisted and don't really flower,) and so don't plant the tulips in the same place for another three years so there's no chance of a build up of disease.

    We treat tulips as annuals here, planting them to flower just once and then composting the bulbs.  We're growing them for cutting, not for show, so we don't need to plant them especially deep in the hope that they'll naturalise and clump up and reflower year after year. 

    So we dig a relatively shallow trench, perhaps fo...

  • Why frost is good for your garden

    Why frost is good for your garden

    We've had a good number of frosty mornings so far this autumn, and today's was particularly gorgeous.  I took ten minutes to beat the bounds of our little Somerset flower farm, camera in hand, to enjoy the sunshine yes, but also to admire the work the frost is beginning to do on our ground.  We grow our flowers on horrible thick, Somerset clay, and spend a great deal of time and energy managing our beds so that we can have a good tilth to sow in.  So a series of frosty mornings makes us happy because the frost breaks up the clay and works in the mulch we've added to the surface of the soil, AND it helps kill off slugs and any warmth and damp related diseases which might hang around in the soil over winter.  Altogether I love a frosty morning, and I love a series of frosty mornings even more.  So when you wake up to crisp outside too, delight not only in the light and the crunch, delight too in the frost working your soil for you, and allow yourself a little wicked chuckle at the thought of slugs not getting through the winter.

  • Having the flower farm house styled for a photo shoot

    Having the flower farm house styled for a photo shoot

    More fun than a picnic is how I'd describe having our house styled for a photo shoot by the glorious stylist Amanda Russell and her friend and photographer Nick Carter.  I was worried that our house was too messy and generally full of unstylish corners, but it turns out that it's only the square framed by the shot which needs to look amazing - outside that square roller skates and bicycle helmets, nerf gun collections, and ugly toasters, can be heaped, but because you look at the picture within the frame, you don't imagine piles of rubbish, but more of what the contents of the photograph describes.  So, for example, the picture I've used to illustrate this post, is of a corner of a shelf in our sitting room (this corner styled by Amanda this week.)  On the right is the window, through which, in real life, is Fabrizio's delivery van van, our wheelie bin, a pile of buckets belonging to Common Farm Flowers, a child...

  • Flower farmers year - November

    Flower farmers year - November

    In this flower farmer's year, November is the month for clearing, mulching and prep.  We have seven hundred and fifty running metres of metre wide beds here at Common Farm Flowers between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset, and to keep our thick, Somerset clay workable, every inch of those beds needs mulching before the growing season starts next year. 

    One barrow of mulch (mostly municipal green waste compost from Viridor - and some very well rotted horse manure) covers a three metre stretch of metre wide bed.  So that means we'll have to fill two hundred and fifty barrow loads to cover all our beds.

    We've had delivered sixteen tons of compost and it's in a great big heap in our yard.  We barrow loads one at a time by hand (no tractor, plus this stilightly fiddly way works for us as our farm is laid out badly so that the wildlife can flourish, often at the expense of our backs.)  

    First the beds are given a light hoe.  Then the barrows of mulch are appied.  Sharon and I did ten barrow loads yesterday.  If we do te...

  • Flower delivery bouquets from Common Farm Flowers

    Flower delivery bouquets from Common Farm Flowers

    No two bouquets of flowers from Common Farm Flowers in Somerset are ever the same.  No matter what time of year, we take the best flowers available, all grown not flown, as they say, all exclusively British flowers, and we create bouquets to order for delivery all round the UK.

    This bouquet was sent this morning, 3rd November 2017, and is a classic of the season, warm pinks and reds with a touch of silver velvet in the foliage.  I made it myself, walking round the table where our material is all standing in buckets of fresh water (no lying flowers flat on the surface, out of water, letting them bruise and dry out in the process here,) and I took fifty stems of gorgeousness to make a bouquet to send, in this case, as a thank you.  Today we've also made bouquets for congratulations and to give solace - so many reasons for giving a bouquet of English country flowers.  

    No matter what time of year, or what the reason for sending them, fresh, garden flowers sing with love from the giver.  Ingredients in this bouquet: dahlias, ranunculus, pa...

  • How about a bucket of mixed flowers delivered to your door?

    How about a bucket of mixed flowers delivered to your door?

    There is a way to cheer yourself up in the dim, dark days of winter.  Order yourself a bucket of beautiful British flowers from us, and eighty stems of loveliness will be delivered to your door.  Then you spend a happy half hour escaping from your life, being the kind of person who has flowers delivered to their door and has time to arrange them.  A bucket of eighty stems will make one huge arrangement, or perhaps one largish jug full and and then three posies - the jug for your kitchen table perhaps, the posies for your bedroom, your bathroom, your BOUDoir perhaps (did you know that the verb BOUDer in French means to sulk?  And that therefore a BOUDoir is, in fact, a sulkery?)

    I think a bucket of flowers to play with yourself has to be the perfect treat.  Or if you feel too guilty to order for yourself, then order for a friend, and go round and play with them at their house?  Just a suggestion.

    See our flower delivery page for all sorts of ideas for flowery treats.  At this time of year flowers do so much to brighten life.

  • Autumn colour at this Somerset flower farm

    Autumn colour at this Somerset flower farm

    This autumn's colour here in our cosy corner of south east Somerset is, I think, as good as any you'll see anywhere.  There must have been a perfect combination of temperature and rainfall over the past months for the leaves to all turn together into such an amazing mass of fiery colour.  I never have time to get to Stourhead at this time of year (about five miles East of here,) but a walk around our garden is enough to cheer even the most winter-hating flower farmer (me.)

    The colour here is much contributed to by our collection of willows - stems of burning orange, bright yellow, spring green, aubergine purple, are slowly revealed as the dried old leaves are blown off.  And then I think, it's time to go counting.  And Sharon and Fabrizio and I walk the willow bounds we planted by striking three foot lengths of our neighbour's pollard willow collection fourteen years ago, the trees from which in some cases are forty feet high now, and we count the new stems from this year.  

    We pollard a good deal of our willow in January.  And th...

  • How to carry your bouquet on your wedding day

    How to carry your bouquet on your wedding day

    It seems to me that a question brides seldom consider is how they're going to carry their bouquet on their wedding day.  The look of the bouquet, the flowers used and so on, are usually carefully thought out, but how the bouquet will actually be carried, the weight of it, the look of it against the dress, is not a question brides ever ask me.  

    Hot tip: make a posy and stand with it in front of the mirror.  Do you feel comfortable holding it two handed right in front of you as is often shown in photographs?  Will you be able to carry it like that when you're being taken down the aisle by whoever is giving you away?  And when you imagine your photographs being taken will you still stand straight-on to the camera, holding the bouquet two-handed?  Or will you face your new husband and hold the bouquet down by your skirts, with a straightish arm?  

    How will the bouquet, which, for good reason, will cost you a fair amount of money, look in the photographs?  

    Use your trial posy to stand in various different ...

  • How to grow a kitchen table business

    How to grow a kitchen table business

    People who start kitchen table businesses usually do it because they are brilliant at the thing the business sells: bread making, sewing, designer making, jam, ironing, photography... often a hobby which could be turned into a small business.  And they might be brilliant at making patchwork, or flapjacks, or whatever it is, but they might also not have any business training.

    And this is where this day course in small business management comes in.

    Eight years ago, when I started Common Farm Flowers, I had no business training either, and I started my business because I was good at growing sweet peas and needed to do something which made me a living, but which I could do from home as I had two very small children, and didn't want to commute away from them every day.

    So my job is to share with you everything I've learned along the way: the difference between turnover and profit, how to make a cash flow forecast into a fun tool rather than a project which overwhelms, why a business plan can be just four pages long, and, perhaps most important of all, how t...

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