Growing sweet peas successfully is not rocket science. Here are our top tips:
Use fresh seed for better germination rates. Sow seed a knuckle deep in trays or pots and keep out of the way of the marauding mouse who loves to eat a germinating sweet pea seed more than anything.
Successionally sow two or three crops of sweet peas, and sow fewer than you think you'll need. It's better to keep cutting ALL the flowers on ten or fifteen plants, than being overwhelmed by the flowers on thirty or fourty plants and finding your sweet peas go over quickly. I would sow your first crop in autumn, say, first October, and your second, outside in March.
Sow sweet pea seed in deep pots or root trainers - this way they have space to get their roots down which they like to do.
Pinch out the sweet pea seedlings by cutting off the shooting stem so that you leave only two sets of true leaves. This will encourage the plant to branch out, so giving you lots more flowers.
Plant sweet peas out, protected from frost, from mid-March onwards, into very houmus-...
So many good reasons to order British flowers. Here are just a few:
- Buy British flowers because flower growers feed the bees. As Fabrizio always says, 'Look after the invertebrates and the rest of the food chain will look after itself.' So buying British flowers means you're contributing to an economy which supports our beleaguered bees.
- Buy British flowers and you will find you can have on your kitchen table a full cottage garden herbaceous border of delight which wouldn't be available from big importers, who only supply flowers which will travel out of water, and will last longer, because of the delay between cutting and the flowers arriving at your door. British flowers need fewer chemicals to last because they're fresher when you buy them. British flowers can be delicate varieties which need to travel in water because they have less distance to travel, and the growers will put their precious little people in buckets of water and deliver like that.
- Buy British flowers because they'll not only be fresher by days than imported flowers,...
The greatest compliment we as florists can be given is to be asked to do funeral flowers. The flowers chosen to celebrate a life are there for many reasons, and when people ask us to do them, it's often because the person whose funeral it is was a gardener, or a walker, a person who loved the outdoors, countryside, real, fresh, growing things on which they'd delight to see a bee or a bird.
This may look like a huge arrangement in a vase, but in fact it's a funeral sheaf having a drink. We make it as three bouquets tied together into a huge, flat backed, hand-tie, which can then lie comfortably on the coffin. It has width to fill the space, but height too. And it's really important that the view when it's lying on the coffin, flower heads towards the congregation, is full of life and interest.
In this case, we made the sheaf the evening before the funeral, and it had all night in deep water so that the flowers would be not at all thirsty when lying on the coffin. This huge vase holds almost a gallon of water, and I filled it right up before ...
Ok, so it's not funny any more. These endless boiling hot days of relentless sun are getting me down. I really really really would like some rain. And I bet you would too.
So I thought I'd give you some hot tips (ha ha! you should see the perspiration gently glowing off my nose!) for keeping your garden going during a drought.
The cut flower patches at this flower farm between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset are holding up surprisingly well considering the boiling hard sun. So here are a few of the tricks we employ to keep our garden flowering.
- In the winter mulch your garden beds with a good couple of inches of compost - this will not only feed the soil and your plants, but also help prevent water evaporating from the old surface should the hot weather come.
- We have lots of seeds germinating (our last annual crop for the small tunnel) and seedlings fattening up for when we have room to plant them out (biennials like foxgloves and sweet rocket.) If I left these in the green house or even just outside in the cold fram...
In the same way that there's no point in trying to make a small room look larger by paining it a light colour, there's no point in trying to compete with a massive empty space by stuffing it with flowers. A massive empty space is a massive empty space. However, an intimate ceremony happening inside a massive empty space can be framed carefully with flowers - though I still say don't fight with the space, don't compete with it. Make lovely flowers to frame the ceremony and let the space be what it is.
And so it is with the Radic Pavillion in the Piet Oudolf garden at Hauser and Wirth just outside Bruton in somerset. The Radic Pavillion is like a giant, empty dinosoar egg at the top of the garden, a huge, hollowed out space with nothing in it but rows of chairs for your wedding ceremony, and maybe a table if you ask for one. The view faces through trees and over hedges towards the little Somerset town of Bruton, and the sun sets in the view, as wedding ceremonies always happen there towards the end of the day (the garden being open to the public until 4pm.)
Here's a beautiful pedestal arrangement made for a June wedding at East Pennard House (a stunning wedding and event's venue near Shepton mallet in Somerset.)
I love creating wedding flowers with the gorgeous blooms we grow here on our flower farm between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset, and I love best that no two schemes are ever the same. Because we grow most of the stock we use in our wedding flowers, no matter what the colour scheme, the look, while always classic English country wedding flowers, does change from week to week. In June, when these flowers were created, the tree foliage is still very fresh and green and makes a great background to the flowers. We create herbaceous border style arrangements, and so the look is always quite luxurious and rich, and in June the roses are at their best, and because we grow our own, we can have these long, bendy stems with more than one head of rose on them for our focal arrangements.
The bride had a largely blue bouquet with sweet peas and roses and larkspur and cornflowers, the flower girl, wearing dark bl...
Top tip when cutting garden flowers: take a bucket of water to the plant and cut straight into water so that the flower doesn't even have a chance to realise its been cut before it's being given a lovely long drink. Never allow a flower stem to dry out when you cut it - that's what'll make it flop when you do eventually put it in water. For many more top tips... come along to our posy tying and garden floristry workshop next week!
People often say to me that they struggle with flowers they cut from their garden: they find that their flowers flop quickly, that they are difficult to arrange, they daren't cut their garden flowers for fear their gardens will look shorn afterwards.
Spend a day with us next Tuesday and I'll show you how to cut flowers successfully, how to stop them flopping before you've had a chance to arrange them, and how to make lovely garden arrangements for your own house or as presents for your friends.
We spend the morning tootling round all our acres of cut flowers with a trolley filled with buckets of water and you can cu...
I've been meaning to post about the royal wedding flowers ever since the big day, but we have been busy ourselves (ahem!) and so this at last is my first slow Friday for months and I'm playing catch up. I thought Philippa Craddock and her team did the most incredible job creating flowers for Megham and Harry's wedding - they were stunning! AND the most important thing about them, I think, was that they were done without using flower foam.
When booking your wedding flowers do have a think about how the designs are created, and if your florist suggests working without flower foam do go with them. Flower foam is made out of the same material as plastic bags and takes as long to biodegrade (practically an eternity!) Creating flower installations without flower foam makes a much lighter look, and allows a much more country feel as you can use flowers which wouldn't last a minute in foam. This, of course, is great for country flower growers like us as we delight in creating with flowers which really have just been brought in from the garden.
So when you...
Sometimes we just give in and do things for fun. And this weekend planned for the end of July this year is one of those times.
Really arranged so that our great friend artist Katie James can spend the weekend painting pictures of the flower farm along with Fabrizio Bocca (my other half,) and various other friends, we've invited NEAC (New English Art Club) member Alex Fowler to come and lead a weekend's painting pictures of, in and around our flower farm between Bruton and Wincanton, Somerset.
If the weather's glorious then painters can set up their easels all over the farm, to paint the flowers, but also the wildflower meadow, the orchards, the strong shapes made by the avenues of trees and sweeps of hedge... and if the weather's terrible then we'll just cut all the flowers in the garden and bring them into the studio where people can paint them.
It's been a dream of ours for years to open the garden to ...
Hurrah! It's British flowers week again - THE week in which we flower growers and specialist florists take the opportunity to showcase our work all over the place. So I thought I might give you a couple of paragraphs on how we began and what we do here.
Common Farm Flowers grew out of a desire to create an eco-paradise, abuzz with bees and butterflies, on our seven acre smallholding between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset. We started assuming we'd be more traditional smallholders, fattening pigs and keeping chickens and maybe stalling out at farmers' markets with fruit and veg. But we soon found that we couldn't bear to send the pigs to slaughter, that the fox was a keen thief of our chickens, and that we were better at growing sweet peas than cabbages. So when a neighbour sent me a bouquet of flowers through the post I was inspired: I could grow flowers and sell them! This was eight years and two months ago, and we now send about 1,600 bouquets by post per year, supply flowers for between fifty and sixty weddings, and I teach and give talks and garden tours etc...