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...
So what are we doing in the garden this month - in between cutting willow and making Christmas wreaths?
Well, mulching continues… 750 running metres of metre wide beds are mulched a barrow load at a time until the whole garden’s covered. And while we mulch we rearrange, defragging the garden so that it’s more organised, and each self-sown cerinthe (for example,) is corralled with its siblings, so that we spend less on seed next season, and walk less distance, and can generally be more efficient.
We have space still for a few more plants, and so I may have a little (ahem!) list of shrubs to order too to go with the new dahlias and roses. Next season we’ll make a few new beds (seriously, here I do mean just a few) to make more use of the space we have. The gardens at Common Farm Flowers are maturing now (we’ve been here for fourteen years - when we arrived the seven acres were an empty field with a low hedge round the edge, and a house in the middle.)
We’ve made what’s ...
Your flowers for your Christmas tables will last beautifully if you take them out of their boxes, give them fresh water, snip their stems and put them somewhere cool until you’d like them for your table on Christmas day. We've already started sending out wreaths and today is our first Christmas Decoration workshop of the year. Our fresh cut willow wreaths are dressed with gorgeous greenery and seed heads and crab apples woven into a garland. If hung on a door or a wall outside the garland will hold up beautifully through the cool winter days - if...
They're the most beautiful kind of wreath, absolutely top of the door dressing fashion this year, and we not only know how to make them, but can teach you too how to make yours.
The Common Farm Flowers willow wreath is made with freshly cut willow, which is then easier to use than other willow which will have had to have been soaked for days but might still be brittle. Ours too has this incredible colour because the willow is so very fresh (we cut each wreath to order, including the ones you make on your workshop.) We have green, yellow, firey orange, and dark aubergine coloured willow, which when carefully twisted into a perfect circle and bound makes a circle of magic for you to hang on your wall all year round.
We then teach you to make a garland, a skill which you can translate into making more goodies for your Christmas house. The garland is the Christmas decoration. We have stopped using wire in our garlanding so the whole is absolutely biodegradable. We carefully attach the garland to the willow circle, add ribbon, and voila! your stunning door...
One might think that November is a quietish month in the garden. Well, I beg to differ! After you've planted all your bulbs it's time to prune your roses.
We prune our roses hard in November because:
We aren't especially cold here in south west UK, and so, while the roses may get a little frost nipped, they're hardy enough to withstand our winter pruned - if you lived in a colder place, with harder winters, like Vermont, for example, or Northumberland, you might just give your roses a tidy up at this time of year to prevent the wind ripping them about during the winter, and then a proper prune once they're seriously dormant in, say, early February. But global warming means we're not getting the really hard winters we once did, so I take a risk and we prune our roses hard back in November.
Pruning hard in November means we get a slightly earlier crop - valuable to us as flower farmers with lots of early summer brides wanting highly scented, freshly cut, real garden roses, for their bouquets and posies.
How do we prune?
Well, they say th...