Georgie's Blog

  • Perennial wildflower meadow

    Perennial wildflower meadow

    Successfully creating a perennial wildflower meadow was one of the ambitions we had when we took on Common Farm thirteen years ago.  The land here is thick Somerset clay, and, at the time, our acres were cut about with fencing (no hedges,) there were no trees, and the only plant which grew here was a tough rye grass which had been sown to fatten cattle.  

    Fourteen years later and Fabrizio's dream of establishing patches of perennial wildflower meadows here are very much come to fruition.  He has developed a strict regime of mowing, sowing, and planting out plug plants which have increased our wildflower collection to over and over again.

    For him the skill is to mow so tightly in August that he almost scalps the ground, all mowings are removed right away from the wild areas to places lower than the wild, so that no goodness can run off from the cut grass heaps and increase the fertility of the meadows.  He sows seed and grows them on as plug plants in the same way that we do with our other cut flower crops.  And when he plants out he co...

  • Christmas Fair

    Christmas Fair

    It's the Hauser and Wirth Somerset Christmas Fair tomorrow in the cosy courtyard where the Roth Bar and Grill will keep us all supplied with warm wine and mince pies I've no doubt.  

    We'll be there with flowers to buy and to order for Christmas delivery, as well as all sorts of flowery usefulness like scissors and buckets and vases and wreath bases and Alpacca poo fertiliser and gardening gloves and post cards and books and our very first specially made aprons (perfect for flower farmer and florists everywhere - I count myself a bit of an apron aficianado you know.) 

    So bring great wads of hard cash (as we can't take cards when we're not at Common Farm) and solve a great swathe of your Christmas shopping list at our stall.  

    See you tomorrow! 

    And if you can't make it to Bruton in Somerset tomorrow, then do order all your Christmas goodies from us via our website.  We have plenty to choose from. 

    And thank you.

  • Somerset Willow Wreath

    Somerset Willow Wreath

    Willow wreaths at Common Farm Flowers are made with whips we cut fresh from our farm.  When we arrived here, thirteen years ago, we struck willow stakes which were given us by a neighbour, into a band all round two sides of the farm.  The land was very boggy, and our plan was that the willow would help drain the land.  It did, and it grew tall and lanky, and eventually we started pollarding the trees we now had.  

    Willow plays a vital part in the survival of almost as many different species as does oak, as it was one of the first trees to recolonise the British Isles after the retreat of the last Ice Age.  Most noticeable for us are the clumps of black aphids which overwinter in the crowns of our pollard willow, making a fabulous feast for the charms of goldfinches which skit about the farm in the winter months.  A charm of goldfinches in flight is called a 'volery,' meaning a flight (from the French.)  Of course it could also mean a thievery (voler is to steal in French) which I think would suit them just as well as they're noisy ga...

  • Royal Wedding Flowers

    Royal Wedding Flowers

    Congratulations to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle!  I love a Royal Wedding, especially one announced in late November when we still have the winter to get through.  Here are the top considerations I'll bet they'll be thinking about when it comes to deciding on their wedding flowers.

    The Look.

    With so many good family gardens to pick from, I'll bet the look is to be classic English country garden flowers.  Prince William and Katherine had a gorgeous pure white scheme at their spring wedding, and I loved the way they lined the aisle of Westminster Abbey with trees.  I'll bet Meghan and Harry have an equally bringing-the-outside-in look, though I'll bet good money that the colours won't be the same.

    Colour scheme.

    So far our wedding flowers bookings for the 2018 season have been the absolute oposite of this year: I'm planting a lot more colour for 2018, especially a wonderful mix of hot reds, pinks and oranges.  I think red is going to be very popular, but it'll be mixed into a vibrant combinaion so that the colours really sing...

  • Tips for growing ranunculus

    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...

  • Frost is good for your garden

    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.

  • Style your house

    Style your house

    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...

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