Will March be upon us like a lamb or a lion?
Though it feels as though it’s April already out there now with the sun we’ve had beaming down on us, and the seeds germinating a gogo in the tunnels and the greenhouses. I love the way the larkspur sulks in the ground all winter and then suddenly, ping! they’re popping up all over the place, lovely strong seedlings, crying ‘Only joking!’ to their apparent non-germination.
We’ve had the busiest February ever thanks very much to On Your Farm on Radio 4 (listen here) which featured us just before Valentine’s Day. Who knew that so many people were awake at 6.35 on a Sunday morning, let alone ordering flowers at that time of the day! Thank you for ALL your Valentine’s orders, and remember, Mothering Sunday is coming up soon so do get your orders in quickly for that weekend because we do sell out….
Here at Common Farm Flowers we rely for our every day business on social media. For us, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are three slightly different shops, visited by an ever-growing group of friends.
It was not long after we started farming flowers on our seven acre plot in Somerset (nine years in April!) that somebody said, 'You should start telling people what you're doing on social media.'
And so we did. At first I was a bit scattergun with my tweeting - but that was only because it was so much fun! As a person starting a small business on my own in rural Somerset, I sometimes felt quite isolated - but Twitter provided me with an instant cohort of fun friends who cheered on my efforts, advised, supported, and, most important of all, soon began to order our flowers. I'm now much more strategic with my social media posting - well, the business grew, and there's a limit to how much time one can spend on line when one has a business to run!
When I teach people how to use social media I tell them that I still love Twitter best. So long as you ignor...
A candle lit wedding in deep winter - what could be more romantic? The bride wears satin, and a velvet cloak with a huge, fur-edged hood. And she carries a bouquet of white tulips, hellebores, a handful of snowdrops, ranunculus and scented Cornish narcissi.
All thiese British flowers are grown in the UK at this time of year, namely mid February, and are readily available from us for people who like to carry flowers which haven't been flown thousands of miles for their pleasure.
These bouquets are so delicate, light, and full of the promise of spring. We tied them with cream satin ribbon and a rich, navy blue velvet to go with the bridesmaid's dress. For my first bride's bouquet of the year it was a lovely thing to make, even if my hands were a little tired after Valentine's. All the white and cream was so gentle in the soft, winter light. If I were to get married I might opt for this too.
The wedding took place at Pennard House in Somerset - a gorgeous venue for a country wedding and only about twenty five minutes away from Common Farm Flowers b...
Today is the first Saturday after Valentine's day, and in many a flower farmer's callendar, this day is known as Seed Sowing Saturday.
At last we have ten hours of daylight and so seeds sown now will grow straighter and greener than their etiolated, yellowish cousins sown by the impatient grower in January.
However this is still no time to be sowing seed outside.
Today we sowed a selection of seeds which like a little bottom warmth to encourage germination, and a longish season to get going. So we sowed Orlaya, some scabious, a few different rudbekias (give me a rudbekia over a sunflower any day of the week!)
We don't sow very many seeds at a time - perhaps half a tray, rarely a whole tray of seeds, perhaps fifteen or twenty, rarely thirty or fourty seeds of any variety at any one time. We have a strict schedule of successional sowing through the season. We would rather have a few plants flowering their heads off at any one time, with a fresh crop coming on to flower in a month or six weeks' time, than a huge bed of any one cut flower va...
It's early February and so naturally my mind turns to sowing sweet peas.
We keep the system simple here at Common Farm Flowers.
We sow three crops of sweet peas per year, 96 seeds per crop, always in root trainers.
We sow them indoors and keep them indoors until they're well germinated so that the marauding mouse (of which there are plenty in the polytunnels and greenhouses,) don't eat them...
When they're well germinated, up to having two sets of true leaves, we pinch them back to those two sets of true leaves so that they send out side shoots - I like to have lots of sweet pea shoots for my floristry as well as the flowers.
We don't soak the seed (I used to - but discovered that if I didn't soak the seed they simply take two more days to germinate, and since I'm not in that much of a rush...) or split them open with a paring knife as my mother does while sitting in front of the television in the evening. We simply pop them into good quality, peat free compost (the compost used here is Sylvagrow,) and water the compost from underneath s...
Well let’s look at flowers for your Valentine first shall we? Order from us for your Valentine now and you’ll be giving beautiful, bright, colourful, scented flowers, all grown exclusively in the UK. From Cornwall and Lincolnshire the flowers we send to your Valentine are the very best spring flowers: narcissi, anemones, ranunculus, tulips, with budding willow, scented poplar buds, and foraged foliage to make gorgeous bunches of deliciousness.
Or… Your Valentine might prefer to spend the day with us at one of our great workshops: from growing flowers, to arranging them, from specialist sweet pea and dahlia days, to tours of the farm, and for the business owners we have fantastic social media and styling workshops too. Book now and be prepared for a VERY happy smile from...
This is the perfectly eco funeral wreath: simple, natural ingredients, foraged garden foliage, flowers tucked into moss, which is bound with raffia onto a freshly-cut willow base. I've been making these all winter in my efforts to use less plastic and therefore less floral foam, and they're so beautiful that I can hardly bear to give them to the customers when they arrive to collect them, or I slip them into their specially made boxes to send via courier.
These wreaths are sturdy, yet incredibly delicate, and the faces of the flowers peer out of the foliage just as they would in a garden. They are the perfect tribute for a funeral, and are especially suitable for woodland burial grounds, where ingredients must be one hundred percent biodegradable.
We can make them all year round, and send them UK-wide next-day delivery. We only ever use British grown flowes in our floristry, and the same goes for these wreaths. For something delicate, for a person who loved their garden or their time in the countryside, these do make the perfect tribute.
Pic on this post by Dave Watts.
Here at Common Farm Flowers between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset it is wedding flowers planning season.
Whissh! In come the enquiries: pastel shades for a registry office mid-week wedding in June, bright cactus dahlias for a garden reception in September, rich, moody colours for a spring wedding in April.
And whisssh! Go my replies. Yes, we can work to any budget. Yes we supply only the very best, seasonally-grown, freshly-cut, English country wedding flowers. Yes we grow most of the flowers we use in our floristry ourselves, and when we buy in extra we only buy from other British flowers growers. Yes, the English country garden look is exactly what we do. And yes, we absolutely agree that the way forward is flower-foam free floristry.
It's a fun time of year when the board across the office from my desk fills up with dates booked for weddings and events. The diary has to be carefully managed so that there's sti...
January is a time for planning and getting organised, for seed and plant ordering and for considering the year ahead. But we've also got jobs to do in the garden, whilst resisting planting any seeds (that starts mid February.)
One of our big jobs this month is planting bare rooted roses - which come the summer will literally be blooming gorgeous.
And we’re cleaning and sharpening our tools, Fabrizio, Sharon and I feeding wooden handles with linseed oil, and sharpening edges to transform the speed and efficiency with which we dig, hoe, edge… A blunt, sticking, pair of secateurs does nothing but bruise plants and leave you with worn hands: a sharp, oiled pair of secateurs is a blissful tool to use, and will hurt neither your plants nor your hands.
What are you doing in the garden this month?...
HAPPY NEW YEAR everybody. So what do we get up to in January? Well, along with many of you, January for us is a time for planning, especially flowers for weddings and events in the summer. So I thought I’d focus this update on top tips for you if you’re planning flowers for any kind of event throughout 2019.
If you’re planning on having flowers for your event, whether you’re growing them yourself or buying in (we do buckets of mixed flowers cut fresh from our gardens to order throughout the season by the way,) the first thing I suggest you do is make up an example of what you plan to have on your table, or to carry. It doesn’t matter whether you have exactly the kinds of flowers you plan to have at your event to hand (if you like only British grown flowers in your arrangements, then you certainly won’t!) Using flowers with the same kind of weight as you’d like at your do, will give you an idea very quickly of both how ma...